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Notoginseng (san qi)

What is notoginseng? What is it used for?

Notoginseng (also occasionally referred to as pseudoginseng) comes from a perennial plant native to east Asia. It can reach a height of approximately four feet, with hermaphroditic flowers.

In China, it grows primarily in the Yunnan and Guangxi provinces. The roots of notoginseng are used in herbal preparations. The roots are dug up in either the spring or winter; roots dug up in the spring are believed to be of better quality than those harvested in winter. After cleaning, the roots are dried in the sun and sliced.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, notoginseng has sweet, bitter and warm properties, and is associated with the Liver and Stomach meridians. Its main functions are to stop bleeding, remove blood stasis and invigorate the blood. Notoginseng root can act as an analgesic, and is also believed to have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, cardiotonic, discutient and diuretic properties. It is used to improve circulation and relieve pain, and to treat bleeding and swelling due to external soft-tissue injuries. There is also evidence that it can enhance physical performance. It can be taken either internally or externally.

How much notoginseng should I take?

The typical dosage of notoginseng is between 3 and 10 grams of sliced, dried root, ground into powder, then placed in boiling water and drunk as a decoction. For external uses, an appropriate amount may be applied directly to the skin, or mixed with oil and made into a type of poultice.

What forms of notoginseng are available?

Notoginseng is available in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules and infusions. Notoginseng powder can also be found at many herbal shops and specialty stores, and may be consumed internally, or applied to the skin as a poultice.

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

The American Herbal Products Association has given notoginseng a class 2B rating, meaning that it should not be used during pregnancy. In addition, there is evidence that suggests notoginseng may be adulterated with at least one other plant with a similar name. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions associated with notigniseng. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking notoginseng or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Bown D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1995. ISBN #0-7513-020-31.
  • Chevallier A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1996. ISBN #9-780751-303148.
  • Liang MT, Podolka TD, Chuang WJ. Panax notoginseng supplementation enhances physical performance during endurance exercise. J Strength Cond Res February 2005;19(1):108-14.
  • McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, et al. (eds.) American Herbal Products AssociationŐs Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, p. 82.
  • Zhu S, Zou K, Fushimi H, et al. Comparative study on triterpene saponins of ginseng drugs. Planta Med July 2004;70(7):666-77.
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