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A036 Gathering Medicinal Herbs on the Mountain: Aconite, Fuzi, Tianxiong, and Seeds


During this National Day, I encountered Aconitum plants for the first time (or the most toxic Aconitum), they look harmless, and even the small purple flowers are a bit cute. We dug up several of them and got to know Aconitum, Fuzi, and the relatively rare Tianxiong (we only dug up one piece).

After summarizing yesterday's medicinal collection, the senior student in charge of Yulu Yinjue consulted me about related questions.

Do you think there are any differences between Chuanwu, Fuzi, and Tianxiong?

To be honest, I don't have much clinical experience, it's just what I saw during this medicinal collection. But I sent him my previous related notes, and the senior student found them very enlightening, so I also shared them with everyone, hoping to help those who are destined.

Origin of Chinese Medicine#

Chuanwu is the mother root of Aconitum, a perennial herbaceous plant in the Ranunculaceae family, and Caowu is the mother root of Aconitum sinomontanum, a plant in the same family.
Fuzi is the lateral root of Aconitum.

Fuzi is propagated by rhizome, planting Fuzi in the ground.

  1. Fuzi grows beside the rhizome planted that year (growing attached to the mother root, so it is called Fuzi).
  2. The originally planted rhizome becomes Aconitum (like a crow's head, so it is called Aconitum);
  3. If the planted rhizome does not grow Fuzi, the rhizome itself will grow like a single-headed garlic, and it is called Tianxiong.

Li Shizhen: "Its shape is long and does not produce offspring, so it is called Tianxiong. If it is long and pointed, it is called Tianzhui, resembling its shape."


Chuanwu and Caowu are good at warming the meridians, dispelling cold and relieving pain, and can dispel wind and eliminate dampness; Fuzi is good at rescuing yang, warming the kidneys, assisting yang, and dispelling cold and relieving pain.

When the rhizome grows larger without producing Fuzi, the ancients believed that the yang energy would not be dispersed and the warming and nourishing power would be greater, so it was called Tianxiong, the natural male.

Among Fuzi, Aconitum, and Tianxiong, Tianxiong has the strongest warming and nourishing power, and Aconitum has the weakest power. However, the dispersing power of Aconitum is more obvious, so it is relatively more commonly used in the treatment of pain and numbness, such as Aconitum Guizhi Decoction, Aconitum Decoction, etc.


Caowu has the strongest toxicity, followed by Chuanwu, and Fuzi has relatively less toxicity. The dosage of medication, especially the initial application, should not be too large. Generally, processed products should be used, such as processed Fuzi, which can be divided into salted Fuzi, black Fuzi, and white Fuzi slices.

After strict processing, the toxicity of Aconitum and Fuzi can be significantly reduced. Li Shizhen once pointed out, "Aconitum and Fuzi are poisonous medicines, not to be used except for serious illnesses, and should be used sparingly in tonics," and does not advocate long-term use. Generally, they should not be used together with Banxia, Gualou, Beimu, and Baiji, and should be decocted for a long time.

Pharmacological Research#

Chuanwu, Caowu, and Fuzi all have a main chemical component called aconitine, hypaconitine, and mesaconitine. Experimental results show that Chuanwu and Caowu have more obvious analgesic effects than Fuzi.

Toxic reactions often manifest as numbness of the lips and tongue, numbness of the limbs, dizziness, restlessness, nausea, drooling, convulsions, etc. In severe cases, arrhythmia, hypotension, coma, and life-threatening conditions may occur. Clinical observations have found that when taken with alcohol, such reactions are more likely to occur.

Honeysuckle, licorice, mung beans, black beans, ginger, etc. can reduce the toxicity of Aconitum and Fuzi.

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