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Belamcanda Rhizome (she gan)

What is belamcanda rhizome? What is it used for?

Belamcanda is a perennial herb that belongs to the iris family. Native to east Asia, it grows throughout China, Japan and Nepal, and can reach a height of just over three feet, with hermaphroditic, orange-yellow flowers.

The rhizomes of the plant are used in herbal formulas. The rhizomes are usually harvested in the autumn, then washed, dried in the sun and sliced for later use.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, belamcanda rhizome has bitter and cold properties, and is associated with the Lung meridian. Its main functions are to clear heat, remove toxins from the body, and clear the lungs. It is often used for throat-related conditions such as laryngitis, tonsillitis, and general pain and swelling in the throat. It also treats coughs and obstructions that may be caused by excess phlegm. The herb is considered a powerful antifungal.

How much belamcanda rhizome should I take?

The typical dose of belamcanda rhizome is between 1.5 and 9 grams, boiled in water and drunk as a decoction. Some practitioners may recommend slightly higher doses (6-10) to treat particularly obstinate conditions. Externally, it can be applied to the skin to reduce swelling and treat some kinds of dermatitis.

What forms of belamcanda rhizome are available?

Sliced, dried belamcanda rhizome can be found at some herbal shops, specialty stores and Asian markets. Some vendors also sell powdered belamcanda rhizome, which is incorporated into pills and capsules.

What can happen if I take too much belamcanda rhizome? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Belamcanda is considered slightly toxic. As a result, belamcanda should not be taken by women during pregnancy, or by patients who have diarrhea caused by spleen deficiency.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions associated with belamcanda rhizome. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking belamcanda rhizome or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Ito H, Ohoue S, Miyake Y, et al. Iridal-type triterpenoids with ichthyotoxic activity from belamcanda chinensis. J Nat Prod May 1999;62(5):802.
  • Ito H, Onoue S, Yoshida T. Isoflavonoids from belamcanda chinensis. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) September 2001;49(9):1229-31.
  • Jung SH, Lee YS, Lim SS, et al. Antioxidant activities of isoflavones from the rhizomes of belamcanda chinensis on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic injury in rats. Arch Pharm Res February 2004;27(2):184-8.
  • Sun G, Wan Y, Sun Y. Study on the fingerprints of belamcanda chinensis (L.) DC by capillary electrophoresis. Se Pu May 2004;22(3):206-9.
  • Takahashi K, Hoshino Y, Suzuki S, et al. Iridals from iris tectorum and belamcanda chinensis. Phytochemistry April 2000;53(8):925-9.
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