Rhodiola (hong jing tian)
By Eric Brand
One of the most popular new medicinals in Chinese medicine today is rhodiola (hong jing tian), which came from the arsenal of Tibetan medicine. It is most famous for its use in patients suffering from altitude sickness.
The confusing issue regarding rhodiola is that medicinal forms of hong jing tian come from both Tibet and Northeastern China and Russia (the latter is a similar range as that of ginseng). Sources are divided as to which one is the most effective. Here’s the info from the Chinese sources. This material comes from my book, Concise Chinese Materia Medica, which is available from both Blue Poppy and Redwing Books.
SOURCE: Rhodiola rosea L., Rhodiola euryphylla (Frod.) S. H. Fu.
NATURE AND FLAVOR: Sweet; cold.
CHANNEL ENTRY: Spleen, lung.
Actions and Indications
Fortifies the spleen and boosts qì: Spleen qì vacuity.
Hóng jǐng tiān may be used as a single medicinal to treat spleen qì vacuity with signs such as fatigue and lack of strength. It is also said to boost qì to engender blood. In addition, it promotes contraction and can be used to treat abnormal vaginal discharge. For vaginal discharge, combine it with qiàn shí (Euryales Semen), shān yào (Dioscoreae Rhizoma), and bái zhú (Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizoma).
Clears the lung and relieves cough: Lung heat cough.
For lung heat with cough and expectoration of blood, combine hóng jǐng tiān with zhè bèi mǔ (Fritillariae Thunbergii Bulbus), zhī mǔ (Anemarrhenae Rhizoma), and ē jiāo (Asini Corii Colla). Some sources also indicate that hóng jǐng tiān nourishes lung yīn and can be used for yīn vacuity patterns as well. For yīn vacuity, use it with shā shēn (Adenophorae seu Glehniae Radix) and bǎi hé (Lilii Bulbus).
Quickens the blood and transforms stasis: Blood stasis from knocks and falls.
Hóng jǐng tiān is used topically for knocks and falls, and may also be used topically for burns and scalds.
Dosage and Method of Use
3–12 g in decoctions. It may also be applied topically, and is frequently made into tablets or gelatin capsules.