Sarcandra glabra

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Sarcandra glabra

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More
Sarcandra glabra

Common Names

  • Herba Sarcandrae
  • Zhong Jie Feng
  • Glabrous Sarcandra Herb
  • Cao Shan Hu; Caoshanhu

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

Sarcandra glabra has not been shown to treat cancer in humans. It may reduce side effects from radiation treatment, but further studies are needed to confirm these effects.

S. glabra is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for bone and joint pain as well as bleeding disorders. It may help to reduce the side effects of radiation therapy, such as mouth sores and dry mouth. An extract of this herb was examined in the lab and is claimed to stop cancer cells from multiplying. However, this effect has not been studied in humans. Long-term adverse effects are unclear.

What are the potential uses and benefits?
  • Cancer

    Lab studies suggest that an extract of S. glabra can stop cancer cell division, but human data are lacking.
  • Radiation treatment side effects

    A small observational study reported that a special preparation of S. glabra can help reduce mouth sores and dry mouth from radiation therapy. Additional studies are needed.
  • Bleeding disorders

    Lab and animal studies suggest S. glabra can improve platelet count after chemotherapy, but this has not been studied in humans.
  • Bone fractures and arthritis

    Although S. glabra has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for this purpose, clinical studies have not been conducted in humans.

For Healthcare Professionals

Brand Name
Scientific Name
Sarcandra glabra (Thunb.) Nakai, Chloranthus glaber (Thunb.) Makino
Clinical Summary

Sarcandra glabra, an herb native to Southeast Asia, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of bruises, bone fractures, arthritis, nausea, internal pain, and cough (1). Some constituents are reported to have hepatoprotective (2) and cytotoxic (3) properties.

In vitro studies suggest S. glabra can protect against oxidative stress in mesenchymal stem cells (15). An acidic polysaccharide from S. glabra exhibited anticancer effects in human osteosarcoma cells (16). S. glabra inhibited tumor growth in human leukemic cell lines (8).

In animal studies, S. glabra constituents demonstrate anti-inflammatory (17) (18) and anti-diabetic (19) activities. S. glabra increases platelet production and may play a role in reducing chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia (5). It also exhibits protective effects against viral pneumonia (6).

Clinical observation in humans suggest S. glabra may be useful in the treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (4). S. glabra extract is marketed to cancer patients to relieve fatigue and as an alternative cancer treatment, but it has not been evaluated for these uses in clinical trials. However, it may relieve some cancer treatment-induced symptoms. One human study found it reduced radiation therapy-induced mucositis and xerostomia in patients with advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma (9). More studies are needed to confirm whether S. glabra can indeed control some cancer treatment-related symptoms and to further validate any antitumor potential.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Arthritis
  • Bleeding
  • Cancer
  • Fractures
  • Nausea
  • Pain
Mechanism of Action

In animal models of influenza virus, S. glabra improved susceptibility marker levels and inhibited inflammatory cytokines via downregulation of NF-κB protein expression to diminish lung injury. This may be in part due to antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects of major constituents including rosmarinic acid, caffeoylquinic acid, and caffeic acid (6).

Caffeic acid 3,4-dihydroxyphenethyl ester (CADPE), a polyphenol component, has indicated some antitumor activity in animal models through inhibition of tumor angiogenesis, induction of cancer cell senescence, and modulation of multiple cellular targets and signal pathways (7). An ethyl acetate extract of S. glabra inhibits proliferation and viability of human promyelocytic leukemic HL-60 cells by arresting the cell cycle S phase via upregulation of Bax, a proapoptotic factor (8).

Generally, active components in S. glabra are more abundant in the stem than leaf (14) and concentrations of constituents vary when examining S. glabra from different provenances.

Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. Hocking GM. A Dictionary of Natural Products. Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, Inc; 1997.
  2. Li Y, Zhang DM, Li JB, et al. Hepatoprotective sesquiterpene glycosides from Sarcandra glabra. J Nat Prod. Apr 2006;69(4):616-620.
  3. He XF, Yin S, Ji YC, et al. Sesquiterpenes and dimeric sesquiterpenoids from Sarcandra glabra. J Nat Prod. Jan 2010;73(1):45-50.
  4. Zhang JZ. Clinical observation of 26 cases of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura treated with Sarcandra glaber. J Tradit Chin Med. Sep 1981;1(1):61-62.
  5. Zhong L, Liu T, Chen Y, et al. [The study on effect of Sarcandra glabra on prevention and treatment of thrombocytopenia by chemotherapy]. Zhong Yao Cai. Jan 2005;28(1):35-38.
  6. Cao HJ, Tan RR, He RR, et al. Sarcandra glabra extract reduces the susceptibility and severity of influenza in restraint-stressed mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:236539.
  7. Guo X, Shen L, Tong Y, et al. Antitumor activity of caffeic acid 3,4-dihydroxyphenethyl ester and its pharmacokinetic and metabolic properties. Phytomedicine. Jul 15 2013;20(10):904-912.
  8. Li WY, Chiu LC, Lam WS, et al. Ethyl acetate extract of Chinese medicinal herb Sarcandra glabra induces growth inhibition on human leukemic HL-60 cells, associated with cell cycle arrest and up-regulation of pro-apoptotic Bax/Bcl-2 ratio. Oncol Rep. Feb 2007;17(2):425-431.
  9. Huang DN, Huang HX, Lu Y. [Clinical observation of sarcandra giabra combined chemoradiotherapy for treating patients with local advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma]. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. Apr 2013;33(4):456-458.
  10. Zhao RZ, Zhao Y, Zhang LQ, et al. Determination of isofraxidin and astilbin by HPLC in rat plasma and its application after orally administration the extract of Sarcandra glabra. Pak J Pharm Sci. Jan 2013;26(1):1-6.
  11. Zhou H, Liang J, Lv D, et al. Characterization of phenolics of Sarcandra glabra by non-targeted high-performance liquid chromatography fingerprinting and following targeted electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry/time-of-flight mass spectrometry analyses. Food Chem. Jun 15 2013;138(4):2390-2398.
  12. Feng S, Xu L, Wu M, et al. A new coumarin from Sarcandra glabra. Fitoterapia. Sep 2010;81(6):472-474.
  13. Zhu LP, Li Y, Yang JZ, et al. Two new sesquiterpene lactones from Sarcandra glabra. J Asian Nat Prod Res. May-Jun 2008;10(5-6):541-545.
  14. Min F, Si JP, Huang WH, et al. [Studies on furmaric acid and isofraxidin content in Sarcandra glabra of different provenances]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Aug 2008;33(15):1849-1853.
  15. Liu J, Li X, Lin J, et al. Sarcandra glabra (Caoshanhu) protects mesenchymal stem cells from oxidative stress: a bioevaluation and mechanistic chemistry. BMC Complement Altern Med. Oct 28 2016;16(1):423.
  16. Zhang Z, Liu W, Zheng Y, et al. SGP-2, an acidic polysaccharide from Sarcandra glabra, inhibits proliferation and migration of human osteosarcoma cells. Food Funct. Jan 2014;5(1):167-175.
  17. Liu L, Mu Q, Li W, et al. Isofraxidin protects mice from LPS challenge by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines and alleviating histopathological changes. Immunobiology. Mar 2015;220(3):406-413.
  18. Niu X, Wang Y, Li W, et al. Protective effects of Isofraxidin against lipopolysaccharide-induced acute lung injury in mice. Int Immunopharmacol. Feb 2015;24(2):432-439.
  19. Liu W, Zheng Y, Zhang Z, et al. Hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of Sarcandra glabra polysaccharide in type 2 diabetic mice. Food Funct. Nov 2014;5(11):2850-2860.
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