Common anemarrhena rhizome

Chinese Name: Zhi mu
Medical Name:
Latin Name: Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bge.
Origin: Root
Taste: Slightly bitter and sweet

Quotes from Chinese historical sources:

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "Its flavour is bitter and cold. It is effective in cases of diabetes, fever, and fluid retention, eliminating pathogenic factors, expelling surplus fluid, repairing deficiencies of energy and benefitting the spirit."

OPINIONS ON THE PROPERTIES OF HERBS: "Its main uses are in treating congestion and arrhythmia of the heart; in the treatment of fevers related to chronic consumptive diseases of the bone; in the alleviation of debilities of the puerperum arising after childbirth; and in instances where the vitality of the kidney has become depleted. When people feel the effects of cold and consumptive disease; or complain of lassitude and thirst, add it and use it."

METHODOLOGY OF MEDICATION: "It is sovereign in driving out fever from the foot of the Yangming channel. Its intensely cold properties benefit the kidney and bladder with continuing use, its cures will seem miraculous."

Western Research:

Biomed Environ Sci. 2006 Jun;19(3):185-91.
Inhibitory effects of saponins from Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge on the growth of vascular smooth muscle cells.
Xiao SZ, Xu ME, Ge YK, Xiao GF.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. xiaoshangzhi@sina.com
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of saponins from Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge (SAaB) (Botanical Name: Anemarrhena Asphodeloidis Rhizoma) on the growth of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). METHODS: Cell proliferation was measured by a newly developed cell proliferation reagent, WST-1. Cell apoptosis was assayed by flow cytometry through detecting annexin V. Nitric oxide production was evaluated using confocal laser scanning microscopy with diaminofluorescein diacetate (DAF-2, DA). Cell aldose reductase (AR) activity, as well as the effect of Epalrestat and interleukin-1beta were also explored. RESULTS: WST assay showed that cell proliferation induced by serum was significantly inhibited by SAaB (P<0.01). Flow cytometry analysis revealed that SAaB could enhance apoptotic rate of VSMCs (P<0.01). Nitric oxide production was significantly enhanced after administration of SAaB and interleukin-1beta. Moreover, AR activity of VSMCs was also remarkably inhibited by both SAaB and Epalrestat (P<0.01). CONCLUSION: SAaB can inhibit proliferation and enhance apoptosis of VSMCs. It may protect vascular cells by inhibiting VSMC proliferation and augmenting apoptotic rate of VSMCs via NO-dependent pathway.

Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 May;24(5):586-7.
Testosterone 5alpha-reductase inhibitory active constituents from Anemarrhenae Rhizoma.
Matsuda H, Sato N, Yamazaki M, Naruto S, Kubo M.
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kinki University, Higashiosaka, Osaka, Japan. matsuda@phar.kindai.ac.jp
The diethyl ether extract of Anemarrhenae Rhizoma (rhizomes of Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge) showed testosterone 5alpha-reductase inhibitory activity. Two major constituents, cis-hinokiresinol (1) and 2,6,4'-trihydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone (2) were identified as the active principles. The inhibitory activity of 1 was superior to that of ethinylestradiol, but that of 2 was weak.

J Gastroenterol. 2001 Feb;36(2):79-90.
Growth inhibition and apoptosis of gastric cancer cell lines by Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge.
Takeda Y, Togashi H, Matsuo T, Shinzawa H, Takeda Y, Takahashi T.
Second Department of Internal Medicine, Yamagata University School of Medicine, Japan.
In this study, we aimed to determine the growth inhibition and the induction of apoptotic cell death brought about by the herb Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge in gastric cancer cell lines, and to clarify the mechanism of this apoptosis. Water-soluble ingredients of A. asphodeloides, and the gastric cancer cell lines, MKN45 and KATO-III, were used in vitro. Growth inhibition, induction of cell death, morphological features, the presence of DNA ladders, increases in caspase-3-like activity, the effects of a caspase-3 inhibitor on apoptotic cell death, and the release of cytochrome c by A. asphodeloides were analyzed. A. asphodeloides inhibited the growth and decreased the viability of the gastric cancer cell lines. The viability of normal skin fibroblasts in the presence of low concentrations of A. asphodeloides was higher than that of gastric cancer cells. Apoptotic bodies and DNA ladders were observed to be induced in MKN45 and KATO-III by A. asphodeloides. The caspase 3 inhibitor, Ac-DEVD-CHO, inhibited the apoptotic cell death of gastric cancer cells induced by A. asphodeloides. The caspase 3-like activity in MKN45 and KATO-III cells increased after the addition of A. asphodeloides. Cytochrome c was released from mitochondria into the cytosol 8 h after the addition of A. asphodeloides, and reached a peak at 16 h. The peak of cytochrome c release was earlier than that of caspase 3-like activity. We concluded that A. asphodeloides inhibited the growth of the gastric cancer cell lines MKN45 and KATO-III and induced apoptosis. The apoptosis of MKN45 and KATO-III cells induced by A. asphodeloides was associated with the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria, followed by an increase in caspase 3-like activity.

Clin Chim Acta. 1999 Nov;289(1-2):79-88.
Effect of six steroidal saponins isolated from anemarrhenae rhizoma on platelet aggregation and hemolysis in human blood.
Zhang J, Meng Z, Zhang M, Ma D, Xu S, Kodama H.
Division of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, The University of Pittsburgh, Room 589, Salk Hall, 3501 Terrace Street, Pittsburg, PA 15261, USA.
Six steroidal saponins were isolated from Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge (Liliaceae), a traditional chinese medicine, and named anemarrhenasaponin I (An-I), anemarrhenasaponin Ia (An-Ia), timosaponin B-I (TB-I), timosaponin B-II (TB-II), timosaponin B-III (TB-III), and timosaponin A-III (TA-III). The effects of these six compounds on platelet aggregation and hemolysis in human blood were studied. All these compounds provoked remarkable inhibiting effect on platelet aggregation, and activated partial thromboplastin times (APTT) are sensitive to the presence of these six compounds. Using an in vitro system, APTT was delayed with the increment of the concentrations of these six compounds. In these six compounds, only timosaponin A-III appeared a strong effect on hemolysis, and anemarrhenasaponin Ia had a slight effect on hemolysis, other had no effect on hemolysis. These results suggested that these steroidal saponins isolated from Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge (Liliaceae) might be used as a novel antithrombotic therapeutic agents in post-myocardial infarction.