A Canyon North of Beijing

We are in the National Holiday this week in China, so I took the opportunity to venture out to my favorite canyon spot north of Beijing. It was a crisp warm day with a bit of a gusty breeze, but it was quite warm in the sun, and the creep was a very refreshing dip.

For those interested in herbal adventures this is a great spot. I have written about it, and other nearby spots, in the past. Here is a little peak at what I saw yesterday.

Smilacina japonica

First on the list is a plant that I hadn’t seen before, Smilacina japonica A.Gray (鹿药 lu4yao4), which is found throughout most of China, except the far Southwest province of Yunnan and the far Northwest provinces. It, along with another, not so wide spread species S. henryi Wanget et Tang are know by the above name in Chinese medicine and are collectively ascribed the following by the Grand Dictionary of Chinese Medicinals. Sweet, bitter, and warm, entering the kidney and liver channels. It supplements the kidneys, quickens the blood, expels wind, and stops pain. And, used for kidney vacuity with yang wilt (impotence), irregular menstruation, one sided headaches, wind-damp impediment, external damage do to injury, and toxic swollen welling-abscess. It is used in 6-15g dosages or as a tincture.

Aconitum sp.

There was also a species of aconite. Not sure which one. There are 211 species of aconite in China and 177 endemic species, clearly making China a hot spot of aconite since there are only ~400 species worldwide.

Humulus scandens

There were loads of other plants, but I gathered a little Chinese hops strobili to make a bit of tincture. There are three species of hops in China. One is the European species, Humulus lupulus, one endemic, H. yunnanensis, and this one, H. scandens (葎草 lv4cao3). The Grand Dictionary of Chinese Medicineals says it is sweet, bitter, and cold; and enters the lung and kidney channels. It clears heat and resolves toxins, and disinhibits urine and frees strangury. It is used to treat lung heat with cough, lung welling-abscess, vacuity heat with vexation thirst, hot strangury, water swelling, inhibited urination, damp-heat diarrhea, heat toxin hemorrhoids, and itchy skin.

For fun I also made some fresh hawthorn fruit tincture in cognac this morning. I will report on the hops tincture in time…someone should remind me…hint!


Well, I finally got back to the hops tincture last night and I have the following to report. It is definitely on as bitter or aromatic as Humulus lupulus, however a good tsp dose had me falling asleep in about 15 minutes. I noticed a marked drowsiness before falling asleep (different than normal for me). I would say that it does have some of the properties of H. lupulus, however, I will need more testing to confirm this.

The hawthorn fruit cognac didn’t really come out so good. The Chinese hawthorn is too sour and the flavor in cognac was less than desirable. Oh well!

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