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tian ma 天麻  (in English and Chinese 中英文)

By: Joe Hing Kwok Chu

See picture here.

Present Day Usage:




  1. for epilepsy,

  2. for external injury of the brain,

  3. as a painkiller, for neurasthenia,

  4. for depression,

  5. for the blood-vessel type of migraine.

It has no undesirable side effects. It does not create a tolerance.

  1. 癲癇症
  2. 治腦部外傷
  3. 神经衰弱患者之止痛剤
  4. 憂鬱
  5. 治血管性偏頭痛

Pharmaceutical name:


Rhizoma Gastrodiae Elatae

Biological name:


Gastrodia elata Bl.,  

Pron. in Japanese:



Pron. in Korean:



Pron. in Cantonese:


tin1 maa4

   Other Names:


ming tian ma明天麻
ming chi jian名赤箭
ding feng cao定風草
shui yang yi水洋芋
chi jian zhi赤箭芝
du yao zhi獨摇芝
ding feng cao定風草
li mu離母
he li cao合離草
shen cao神草
gui tu you鬼督邮
 chi jian 赤箭

處方名:天麻  ,  明天麻  ,  天麻片  ,  炒天麻  ,  煨天麻  ,  薑天麻等

Common Name:


Gastrodia Tuber



It is mainly produced in Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.  Other producing regions include Northeast China and North China.

主產於四川﹐ 云南﹐ 貴州等省。東北部與北部亦有出產。

Properties (characteristics)﹕性味﹕

Sweet in taste and neutral in nature.


Channels (meridians) entered:


Actions & Indications:






  1. Calming the internal wind and relieving convulsion and spasm. For suppressing symptoms of liver-wind, no matter if cold type or heat type.

  2. Calming the liver and suppressing liver yang ascending 肝陽上亢. For such symptoms as vertigo and headache.

  3. Removing obstruction in the channels to relieve pain. For arthralgia due to the wind, cold and dampness, or for numbness and paralysis caused by liver and shenxu (kidney deficient) 腎虛

  4. For neurasthenia and insomnia


有息寒 型 或 熱 型 之 肝 風   ,  有 止痙 的功能。


  1. 四肢拘挛  ,  小兒 驚 風 ,

  2. 肝 陽上亢之 眩暈 ,  頭 痛  ,

  3. 麻木,  風濕疼痛 ,

  4. 神經衰弱,  失眠

Medical Function:


药 理:











  1. Effect on the CNS: sedation, anti-seizure, painkilling effect.

  2. Effect on heart and blood vessels: protects the heart muscle from lacking circulation, improves blood flow in the coronary artery,

  3. Improves blood flow to the brain,

  4. mitigate the effect of adrenalin on blood vessel constriction, lower blood pressure.

  5. Effect on tolerance of lack of oxygen.

  6. Improve the immune system.

  7. Other effects: increase the skin temperature; increase the expansion and contraction ability of the smooth muscle of the intestine; improve the secretion of the bile in the gall bladder (vanillyl alcohol); slow down breathing; inhibits 5-HT, PGE2;

  8. Vanilline can be absorbed in the small intestine rapidly and shows up in the liver and the brain, especially the cerebrum, and the medication quickly permeates the blood-brain barrier. Vanilline is excreted through the urine within 10-12 hours.

  9. Toxicity: Relatively safe.


  1. 鎮痛、 鎮靜、惊厥、

  2. 抑 制 腎 上 腺 素 而 降 低 血 管 收 縮 而 降 低血

  3. 增 進 腦 血 液 循 環

  4. 香莢蘭醛  容 易 被 小 腸 吸 收 ﹐ 很 快 到 達 肝 臟 與 腦 部﹐ 特 別 是 在 大 腦

  5. 明目

  6. 增强記 憶 力

傳統上 ,天麻常與鉤藤半 夏 川 芎 防風等配伍使用

Chemical ingredients:



vanillic acid香莢蘭酸
vanillyl alcohol香莢蘭醇
p-hydroxymethylphenyl-β-D-glucopyranoside對- 羥甲基苯-β-D-吡喃葡萄糖甙
p-hydroxybenzyl alcohol-羥基苯甲醇
citric acid檸 檬酸
citric acid monomethyl ester檸 檬酸 獨甲酸酯
palmitic acid棕榈酸
sucrose蔗 糖
succinic acid琥珀酸
bis (4-hydroxybenzyl) ether mono-β-D-glucopyranoside酯酶荧光底物
4-hydroxybenzyl methyl ether, 4-(4'-hydroxybenzyloxy) benzyl methyl ether 
bis (4-hydroxybenzyl) ether雙(4-羥芐基)醚
4-(β-D-glucopyranosyloxy) benzyl alcohol 
tris [4-(β-D-glucopyranosyloxy) benzyl] citrate 
3, 4-dihydroxybenzyl aldehyde 3,4-二羥基二苯 乙醛
 4, 4'-dihydroxydiphenyl methane4,4'-二羥基二苯甲烷
p-hydroxybenzyl ethyl ether對-羥基苯甲基乙醚
4, 4'-dihydroxydibenzyl ether 4,4'-二羥基二苯
4-ethoxy methyl phenyl-4'-hydroxy benzyl ether 
anti-fungus protein抗真菌蛋白質
vitamin A維 生 素 甲



  • As a decoction, 3 -10 g daily.

  • As powder, 1 - 1.5 g each time.


  • 煎劑 ﹕ 3~10 克。

  • 粉劑﹐每次服﹕1~1.5 克

Samples of formulae:


Use for paralysis after stroke; also for spastic muscles:

Prescription:  tian ma, 3 portions; niu xi , 3 portions; du zhong, 3 portions; dang gui, 2 portions; qiang huo, 2 portions. Grind into fine powder. Mix with refined honey to make into cubes. Take 5g each time 3x day with warm boiled water.   (Source of formula: Long Xiang Fei)

tian ma gou teng yin

tian ma wan

Traditionally, tian ma is being used with the combination of gou teng, ban xia, chuan xiong, fang feng etc.

症狀﹕肌肉肢體 拘挛;中風癱瘓

處方﹕天麻 3份﹐牛膝 3份﹐杜仲 3份﹐當歸 2份﹐ 2份。磨成細末。煉蜜為丸。每次服 5克。每日3次﹐開水送服。處方來源﹕龍翔飛。







鑒 別 ﹕

Tian ma is long and elliptical, shrunk, crooked and slightly flat, 3-15 cm long, 1.5-6 cm wide, and 0.5-2cm thick. At one end of the tuber, there is a reddish-brown withered bud or a remaining stem. At the other end, there is an umbilicate scar. Tian ma ( Gastrodia) tuber is usually peeled. Its surface is yellowish white or yellowish brown with longitudinal wrinkles and some spotted segmental rings. It is hard and semi-transparent. It does not break easily.  Its cross-section is smooth and lustrous. It has a peculiar odor and a sweet, slightly pungent taste.   Fakes are the roots of Mirabilis jalapa L. and Dahlia pinnata Cav., or the tuber of potato, Solanum tuberosum L. They do not have the spotted segmental rings and longitudinal wrinkles on the surface, and the cross-section has no resin-like luster.

天麻偽 品常见者有 大麗 菊Dahlia pinnata cav.(菊科)  ,  紫茉莉 Mirabilis jalapa L.(紫茉莉科)  ,  馬 鈴 薯 Solanum tuberosumL(茄科)  ,  羽裂蟹甲草 Cacalia tangutica Hand.(菊科)  ,  芭蕉芋Canna edulis Ker.(美人蕉科)  ,  芋頭 Colocasia esculenta Sch.(天南星科)  ,  大九股牛Dobinea delavayi Engl. (槭 樹 科)等十餘種 植物的根或塊 茎的仿製 品。



Should not be used in case of yinxu (yin deficient)

陰虛忌 用。


The earliest writing that described tian ma is "Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing", a medical material book, written during Qin and Han dynasties of China, about 2,200 years ago. The book classified herbs into 3 categories: top, middle, and lower. Tian ma was listed as top quality herb.

Tian ma was mentioned in the work of Ge Hong in the work entitled "Bao Po Zi." He lived between 283-343 A.D. during the Jin dynasty of China. He was a medical and Dao writer.

Other early classical works also described tian ma and its usage, include:

Tang Ben Cao, completed in 659 A.D.

Tu Jing Ben Cao completed in 1061 A.D.


其記述最早見于《神農本草經 》。

以 下 著 作 亦 有 報 導 天 麻 形 態 與 性 質 上品

葛 洪 (283 AD - 363 AD)《 抱 朴 子》


《圖經本草》 公元1061年編成.




This herb belong to controlled material of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora),  under append. II (permit required for import and export trade): 天麻 屬 於 《華約》附錄二品種 管制的藥材種類。   預先申請的許可証進行貿易 。


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Last update: Nov 16, 2013; 10 p.m. LAH