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Cephalanoplos (xiao ji)

What is cephalanoplos? Why do we need it?

Cephalanoplos is a type of thistle, a perennial plant found throughout China, Japan and other parts of Asia. Sometimes referred to as cirsium, it can reach a height of 18 inches, with small, alternating leaves, a thin stem and purplish flowers.

The aerial parts of the cephalanoplos, along with the rhizome, are used in herbal preparations. The plant is harvested in late summer and early autumn while in bloom, then cleaned and dried in the sun. It can be used raw, or after being parched.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, cephalanoplos has sweet and cool properties, and is affiliated with the Liver and Spleen meridians. Its main functions are to remove heat from the blood and eliminate toxins. Modern uses for cephalanoplos include the treatment of hematuria, or blood in the urine, and strangury. In addition, cephalanoplos can be used externally to treat boils, eczema and other skin conditions. There is also some evidence that cephalanoplos can help lower blood pressure and reduce bleeding time from wounds and cuts.

How much cephalanoplos should I take?

The typical dosage of cephalanoplos is between 10 and 15 grams of dried herb, mixed with water and drunk as a decoction. The dosage should be doubled if fresh cephalanoplos is being used. Parched cephalanoplos is used only to help stop bleeding. Cephalanoplos can also be applied externally by grinding it into a type of poultice or wash.

What forms of cephalanoplos are available?

Both fresh and dried cephalanoplos can be found at many Asian markets and herbal shops. In addition, some stores sell cephalonoplos pills, powders and extracts.

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

Cephalanoplos should not be administered to patients diagnosed with loose stools or deficiency of the spleen and stomach. In addition, because cephalanoplos can lower blood pressure and reduce bleeding time, patients taking anti-hypertensive medications or blood-thinning medications should speak with a health care provider before taking the herb or any formulas that may contain it. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking cephalanoplos or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Chen JK, Chen TT. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry, CA: Art of Medicine Press, 2004, pp. 566-567.
  • Ding A, Zhang L, Wu L, et al. The technology of processing carbonized cirsium japonicum and quality standards of its prepared pieces. Zhong Yao Cai November 1998;21(11):560-2.
  • Lehoczky E, Nadasy E, Beres I, et al. Changes in nutrient content of cirsium arvense (L.) scop. during the vegetation period. Commun Agric Appl Biol Sci 2003;68(4 Pt A):449-53.
  • Li G, Hao Z, Dong S, et al. Analysis of vitamin K1 in cephalanoplos segetum (Bunge) Kitam by high performance liquid chromatography. Se Pu May 1997;15(3):268-9.
  • Nazaruk J, Gudej J. Flavonoid compounds from the flowers of cirsium rivulare (Jacq.) All. Acta Pol Pharm January-February 2003;60(1):87-9.
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