Gui Zhen Cao – Bidens – “Demon/Ghost Spike/Needle Plant”

SD: It is said that the nature of the herb is sweet and bland, with a neutral property, though other sources list it as bitter. Its actions are to expel pathogenic factors from the surface of the body, clear up heat, remove toxin, and eliminate stagnancy. The applications listed include influenza, swollen and sore throat, enteritis, dysentery, jaundice, intestinal carbuncle, epilepsy in children, malnutrition in infants, and hemorrhoids.
In Chinese Medicinal Herbs of Hong Kong, the indications for Bidens pilosa (the only species listed) are: influenza, colds, fever, sore throat; acute appendicitis; acute infectious hepatitis; gastroenteritis, dyspepsia; rheumatic arthralgia; malaria; and hemorrhoids, pruritis.
Oriental Materia Medica reports it to have the functions of removing wind-dampness, dispersing stagnant blood, and invigorating blood. Applications of the herb include rheumatoid arthritis, sprain, insect and scorpion sting, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis, acute nephritis, stomach ache, and sore throat.
The substitute Desmodium species are similar to the standard herb known either as hulucha or longshehuang (Desmodium triquetri), which is applied to treat common cold, sore throat, enteritis, dysentery, jaundice, rheumatic arthralgia, and other disorders; the overlap in applications between bidens and desmodium is evident. A review of uses of Bidens bipinnata (the only species mentioned) is presented in Anticancer Medicinal Herbs, including:
Internal Medicine: “It is recorded in Handbook of Chinese Medicinal Herbs that: The decoction of the drug cures dysentery, laryngalgia, dysphagia, vomiting, cardiac spasm and esophageal dilatation, and is effective in
removing toxic materials, stopping diarrhea, and clearing away heat. The drug has been used to treat cecitis in the recent years.” For cancer therapy, 15″“30 grams per day is decocted and taken orally for esophageal cancer;
for gastric cancer, 15 grams of bidens is combined with a complex formula for daily administration.
External Medicine: “It is said in Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold that “˜External application of bidens with arctium and blended with pig fat can cure finger cut.’ It is recorded in Dictionary of Chinese Materia Medica that “˜The drug, bitter in taste, mild in nature, and non-toxic mainly cures spider and fly bites through internal and external application.’ It is reported in Materia Medica that “˜Scorpion sting can be cured by external application of the drug.'”
In Chinese-English Manual of Common-Used Herbs, under guizhencao, Bidens bipinnata, B. pilosa, and B. biternata are all listed as the source materials; the applications are: 1. clear away the superficial heat: for common cold of wind-heat type and prevention of influenza; 2. clear away heat and toxic materials: for sore throat, appendicitis, snake bite, and centipede bite; and 3. clear away dampness and heat from the gastrointestines [gastro-intestinal tract]: for diarrhea, dysentery and stomach ache of heat type.
The herb, along with others, is included in the Chinese Patent Gan Mao Qing, a remedy for common cold and influenza. For topical use, the fresh herb is crushed and applied locally or boiled in water to produce a wash for boils, eczema, and tinea.
Based on the traditional claims, bidens would be expected””from the modern perspective””to show infection-inhibiting and anti-inflammatory properties: these actions have been investigated and shown to exist. In fact, bidens extracts are shown to inhibit bacteria, fungi, and viruses and to have potent anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory animal experiments with induced gastric ulcer, liver inflammation, or arthritis-type swelling. In Anticancer Medicinal Herbs, the anticancer potential of the herb is said to be implied by its bacteria inhibiting actions (since many antibacterial substances also inhibit cancer).
Bidens tripartita (lang ba cao), which has been known for many centuries as a remedy for chronic dysentery, was used in a clinical trial to treat 500 cases of dysentery, 65 cases of acute enteritis, 248 cases of chronic enteritis.
In 500 cases of dysentery, 387 cases were reported cured; with 13 not responding in 3 days. In 313 cases of enteritis all were cured (12 chronic cases relapsed later). The authors of the study pointed out that there had been an epidemic of dysentery in Shandong Province for many years and that practitioners at village clinics and the county hospital in Jianan County had used bidens as a remedy for about 10,000 patients.
ITM Formulary: A dried hot water extract of bidens with other herbs has been prepared in tablet form under the name Bidens 6 (Seven Forests). The formula is: Bidens 25%, Hu zhang 20%, Zi hua di ding 15%, Ban lan gen 15%, Ju hua 15%, Gan cao 10%. All the herbs in this formula have anti-infection activities.

Dose: 9-60g (60-120g for acute appendicitis)

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