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qian ceng ta,   千層塔; she zu shi shan 蛇足石杉

by Joe Hing Kwok Chu 朱興國             (in English and Chinese 中英文)

It is a strong inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase. It is more effective than Tacrine, galanthamine and physostigmine (Antilirium) ( 毒扁豆碱 ).  It has been approved in China for treatment of  Alzheimer's disease.

As of this writing,  the drugs being used in Alzheimer's disease are mainly Tacrine, Donepezil, galanthamine, and physostigmine (Antilirium). They are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. They can increase the available acetycholine and can mitigate the symptoms memory loss but the side effects can include nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and Tacrine is seriously toxic for the liver. Huperzine A does not have those side effects.

According to all the information available today, memory loss caused by over- active cholinesterase is not considered to be Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is actually caused by b-amyloid protein.

到下筆前,用來治療老年性痴獃症主要藥物為:Tacrine, Donepezil,galanthamine 與 physostigmine (Antilirium)。 都是抑制乙醯膽鹼酵素的藥物。 它們的副作用包括﹕作嘔﹐嘔吐 ﹐ 懮慮。Tacrine 對肝臟很毒。蛇足石杉甲沒有那些副作用。在中國它已 經被批准用來治療老年性痴獃症。


Huperszine A is being sold in many health food stores in America.

Present day application:


Alzheimer's disease (actually Alzeimer's D is cause by b-amyloid, not by over active acetylcholinesterase )

阿茲海默氏症 (其實阿 茲海默氏症致病原因不是乙 醯膽鹼酵素過多而是 b-澱粉樣蛋白所致。

Pharmaceutical name:


Herba Huperziae serratae

Latin name:


Huperzia serrata Thunb

Pron. in Japanese:



Pron. in Korean:


chan cheung tab

Pron. in Cantonese:


cin1 cang4 taap3

Other Names:


She zu shi shan 蛇 足 石 杉  ,qian ceng ta  千 層 塔 , jin bu huan 金不換,  qi cun jin 七寸金, qian jin cao 千金草, she jiao cao 蛇腳草, qian ceng ye 千層葉, ai song  矮松, shan zhi cao 山芝草, chang bing qian ceng ta 長柄千層塔.

Common Name:


Chinese club moss


產地 ﹕

subtropical areas of China and tropical areas of Asia.

蛇 足石彬的主要分佈地區在中國亞熱帶和南亞洲熱帶地區。





acrid, sweet, slightly bitter, slightly warm.[1]



Channels  meridians) entered:



lung, large intestine, liver, kidney.


Medical functions:



  1. mild diuretic action may help to reduce swelling due to water retention.
  2. huperzine A inhibits acetylcholinesterase (huperzine A may  improve symptoms of myasthenia gravis, and Alzheimer's disease)
  3. prevention of poisoning from a class of chemicals called organophosphates.  


  1. 千層塔有利尿作用
  2. 石 杉碱甲可防止抑制乙 醯膽鹼 (改善重 症肌無力症 與老年性痴獃症)
  3. 防止有 機磷類 之化學物中毒。

Actions & Indications:


dementia﹐ pneumonia, suppurative Lung disease, vomiting bleed, haemorrhoids, blood in stool, vaginal yeast infection, physical injuries from impact. swelling from toxins.

早老性癡呆, 肺炎, 肺癰, 吐血, 痔瘡, 便血,婦女白帶,跌打撲傷,腫毒等。

Chemical ingredients:


huperszine A, serratine,  serratanidine,  serratinidine,  tohogenol,  tohogeninol,  tohogenine.

(Huperzine A (石 杉碱甲 ) is a saponin extracted from the herb. Huperzine A was first isolated in 1980 at the Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.)



For decoction: 10 to 20 g

For external use: use the decoction to apply to affected areas or make into powder and apply.

煎劑﹕ 10 ~ 20 g

外用適量﹕取以上煎液洗患部或作粉末塗布 於患部。

Samples of formulae:

處 方舉例﹕


Modern Research:


May help Parkinson's disease sufferers.

Toxicity & Cautions:


This herb is slightly toxic. Do not overdose if taken orally. Do not take during pregnancy.


[1] Fujian Chinese Herb <福建中草藥>


Also see yin yang huo                按此看中文頁關於淫羊藿 (in Chinese.)

See Chinese writing 按此看中文關於蛇足石彬 (in Chinese)

See a study here.

See Alzheimer's disease

See kai xin san 開心散

Acetylcholinesterase:  any of the various enzymes in the blood and in certain tissues that catalyze the hydrolysis ( breaking down) of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine (ACh). Over breaking down of ACh can cause depression and dementia. The nerve cells that produce acetycholine, because of lack of activities, become degenerated.


Tacrine: trade name in U.S.  is Cognex, also called tetrahydroaminoacridine or THA.


Donepezil: trade name is Aricept, developed by Eisai and partner Pfizer.

乙醯膽鹼酵素 : 是一種促進水化(消滅)乙 醯膽鹼之酵素。乙醯膽鹼是一種神經神經遞質。如果 神經神經遞質被消 滅太多,   會導致臟躁 ,  憂鬱,  健 忘或痴獃等症。

Myasthenia gravis:  it is cause by auto-immune dysfunction where the body produces antibodies that deactivate acetylcholine receptors on muscle cells. These receptors are situated at the end of the muscles. They receive the secretion (acetylcholine) of of the endings of the nerves and create reaction.  When the receptors are destroyed by the antibodies, the functions of the muscles becomes impaired.   The early affected parts of the body include eyelid muscles, eyeballs muscles (double visions), facial muscles, swallowing muscles and the most serious one is respiratory muscle and eventually resulting in paralysis and respiratory failure which is life threatening.

Organophosphates:  is being used as pesticides or in chemical "nerve gas" weapons. Examples of organophosphates include: insecticides (malathion, parathion, diazinon, fenthion, dichlorvos, chlorpyrifos), nerve gases (soman, sarin, tabun, VX), ophthalmic agents (echothiophate, isoflurophate), and antihelmintics (trichlorfon).  Organophosphates work by suppressing acetylcholinesterase permanently.

It can be absorbed through the lungs, mucus (including the digestive tract) and skin.

Another common herb, Spanish sage has been reported that a study on young adults showed that it can improve memory.

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有 機磷可經由肺部、黏膜(包含胃腸道)、皮膚吸收。中毒症狀出現的快慢依接觸方式不同而有所差異。其中以吸入性最快。其次是胃腸道吸收及皮 膚接觸。通常症狀會在接觸到毒物後數秒鐘到12小時內出現,主要含蓋muscarinic/nicotinic/CNS等三個系統。蕈毒 作用(muscarinic effects)的症狀包括:呼吸方面會出現胸悶、呼吸急促、分泌增加、肺水腫;腸胃道的表現有噁心、嘔吐 、腹痛、腹瀉、失禁;心血管系統則會有心搏過緩、血壓下降;外分泌腺方面出現流汗、流淚、流口水的情形;另外,頻尿、小便失禁、瞳孔縮小 、視力模糊、頭痛等也常被報告。尼古丁作用(nicotinic effects)的症狀則是:蒼白、心博過速、血壓上升、及橫紋肌方面 出現肌肉顫動、抽搐、無力、麻痺的情形。中樞神經系統(central nervous system, CNS)的表現則含括焦慮、不 安、情緒不定、失眠、多夢、退縮、沮喪、嗜睡、意識不清、失調、昏迷、Cheyne-Stokes呼吸、癲癇、呼吸中樞及循環中樞抑制等 表現。其中最常出現的症狀為縮朣、嘔吐、唾液過度分泌、腹痛、呼吸抑制、意識不清和肌肉無力。
在中毒症狀中,以呼吸抑制為最主要造成有機磷急性中毒死亡的原因。由於大量的肌肉呈現虛弱無力狀態,病患因此需要以呼吸器協助呼吸,呼吸 停止也可能突然就發生。另外,有些病人會在副交感毒性回復後1-4天,且在遲發性神經病變(delayed polyneuropathy) 發生之前,出現間期症候群(intermediate syndrome)。至於遲發性神經病變(delayed polyneuropathy) 則是在暴露到有機磷6-21天後才出現遠端感覺和運動神經的多發病變;另外也有巴金森氏症之報告。若未診斷出有機磷中毒或給予適當治療, 則1-3天內會死亡。
醫 院藥劑科

(有機磷質料來源﹕藥訊)  按此看 有機磷中毒原文。

重肌無力症 : 成因是由於人體免疫機能的失調,所產生的抗體會破壞神經肌肉末稍之接受器,這種接受器位於肌肉末端,它接受來自神經末梢分泌物 (乙醯 膽鹼)而產生收縮反應。  一旦接受器遭受抗體的破壞,肌肉接受神 經末梢訊息而產生收縮的功能即受到影響。通常身體最早受到影響的肌肉包括眼皮肌肉(造成眼瞼下垂),眼球運動肌肉(造成複視現象),以及臉部表情 肌肉,吞嚥動作肌肉也會受到波及,嚴重者會因呼吸肌肉 無力而有生命危險之虞。(重肌無力 症質料來源台 大神經部﹐ 胸腔外科陸希平醫師)   

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Last update: Mar 11, 2012; 11:55 p.m.LAH  qian_ceng_ta.htm huperzia_serrata.htm