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Ethnobotanical survey of plant species for herbal tea in a Yao autonomous county (Jianghua, China): results of a 2-year study of traditional medicinal markets on the Dragon Boat Festival

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine201814:58

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-018-0257-0

  • Received: 8 February 2018
  • Accepted: 22 August 2018
  • Published:

Abstract

Background

Herbal tea is widely consumed in Jianghua, a Yao autonomous county in Hunan Province, China, to prevent and treat diseases. The materials in herbal tea at the traditional medicinal markets at the Dragon Boat Festival remain unknown. The aims of the paper were (1) to specifically investigate the materials of herbal tea used by Yao nationalities in Hunan Province, (2) to record the most common and the culturally important medicinal plant species in the markets, and (3) to compare the medical plant tradition both used for herbal tea between the Jianghua and Lingnan regions.

Methods

During 2016–2017, 215 vendors were interviewed at traditional medicinal markets at the Dragon Boat Festival in Jianghua to record plants used for herbal tea and to document traditional knowledge of their medicinal function, habitat, and conservation status. Bunches of medicinal plants were purchased to identify the species and to prepare voucher specimens. Cognitive salience (CS) based on free-lists and use value (UV) were calculated to analyze the cultural importance of medical plants; other quantitative methods (coefficient of similarity and chi-square analysis) were applied for comparison of herbal tea tradition between the Jianghua and Lingnan regions.

Results

A total of 169 species belonging to 66 families and 142 genera were recorded in herbal tea to treat health conditions in the study area. There were 30 health conditions that were recorded, with heat-clearing and detoxifying being the most common medicinal function, followed by treating rheumatism and promoting blood circulation. Of the 169 species, 97 were herbs. The whole plant was the most commonly used plant part in the preparation of herbal tea. According to the national evaluation criteria, three of these species are listed on “China’s red list” and registered as vulnerable (VU). By comparing the coefficient of similarity of herbal tea plants and the number of mentions for part(s) used in Jianghua and Lingnan, the medicinal plant tradition is different in two areas.

Conclusions

Herbal tea in Jianghua reflects the cultural diversity of the Yao people and the plant diversity of the region. Future research on the safety, efficacy, and the adulterants of herbal tea are needed for sustainable utilization.

Keywords

  • Herbal tea
  • Ethnomedicine
  • Yao people
  • Dragon Boat Festival
  • Quantitative methods

Background

The practice of drinking herbal tea is an ancient custom for Yao people. Herbal tea is produced from water infusions of a range of plant species other than Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Ktze. [1]. Plant material may consist of fresh or dried parts from a single species or from multiple species. For millennia, the Yao people have been famous for being good at identifying herbs [2]. However, no documentary records have survived from when Yao medicine originated.

The Yao nationality of China is mainly distributed in Guangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Yunnan, Guizhou, and Jiangxi Provinces. The Yao people from Hunan Province are the birthplace of the Yao nationality; Jianghua Yao Autonomous County has the largest Yao population in Hunan Province, accounting for 53% of the population there [2]. Thus, Jianghua Yao Autonomous County plays an important part in the medicine and culture of the Yao people. For historical reasons, the Yao people live long in adverse circumstances, and in the long struggle against disease, the local people had to collect herbs from surrounding mountains and valleys, and they made herbal tea to treat associated health conditions. This tradition formed different, plentiful, and special medical customs, especially herbal tea and medicated baths.

The traditional medical market is a unique custom to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival (May 5 in the Chinese lunar calendar) by Yao, Zhuang, and Han people in Jianghua (mostly Yao people). At every Dragon Boat Festival, people collect herbs from surrounding mountains and valleys and sell them at the medical market, which is a large-scale market, with more variety and larger trades. The traditional medical market has become a unique spectacle of Yao medicinal culture customs. In addition to buying and selling various herbs, people take this opportunity to exchange their experiences in the recognition and usage of herbs. Since the Dragon Boat Festival is at the end of spring and the beginning of summer, weather conditions are volatile and moist, which probably contribute to the disease rate. During this time, many Chinese herbal medicines are in the periods of harvesting or barking, so the timing forms the unique medicinal market of Yao nationality in Jianghua.

The traditional knowledge of herbs is the result of the accumulated experience by the Yao people’s long-term struggle against disease; thus, many aspects of these treatments are probably scientific. However, like the loss of biodiversity, due to the influence of foreign culture, and not having their own written languages, with descendants inheriting their knowledge just by dictation, the traditional knowledge and culture of Yao medicine is also in danger of being lost. In fact, the vanishing of traditional knowledge has been a common phenomenon in the undeveloped country [3].

In order to protect the traditional knowledge of Yao medicine, guarantee food safety, and meet the increasingly globalized health supplement market, we started to document, explore, and research the herb materials for the preparation of herbal tea in Jianghua in 2016.

The study aims to not only document plant species used and commercialized as herbal tea in Jianghua but also make a comparison of herbal tea tradition between the Jianghua and Lingnan regions. This is the first study to document the plant species used as herbal tea in Jianghua; the medicinal plant tradition was recorded for future investigations and policy-making. As well as, if these plant materials are classified and used correctly, the opportunity to develop Yao medicine and expand the herbal tea culture will emerge.

Methods

Study area

The study was conducted in Jianghua, where herbal tea has a significant cultural value and it is traditionally consumed. This region is located in Yongzhou City, which borders Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces, between 110° 25′ S–112° 10′ S and 24° 38′ W–25° 15′ W (Fig. 1). It covers an area of 3248 km2. The total population of Jianghua was 510,000 inhabitants in 2013. It is the only Yao autonomous county in Hunan Province, with the largest population of Yao nationality in the 13 Yao autonomous counties throughout the country. This area features a subtropical monsoon climate, and the weather is relatively moderate, with an annual average temperature of 18–18.5 °C, and plenty of rainfall. It owns the biggest and most famous medicinal market in Hunan Province and the surrounding region, that is, the traditional medicinal markets at the Dragon Boat Festival.
Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Location of the traditional medicinal market in Jianghua that was selected as a study site

Traditional medicinal markets at the Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival, or known as the Duanwu Festival, is a traditional Chinese cultural holiday. The festival occurs on the 5th day of May in the traditional Chinese calendar. There are three most well-known and widespread activities conducted to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, preparing and eating zongzi, drinking realgar wine, and dragon boat racing. These customs could be dated back to over 2500 years ago [4]. The Dragon Boat Festival was held at the summer solstice which is a period of high incidence of disease. Many Chinese folklorists pointed out that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the concept of people fighting diseases and exterminating evils [5, 6]. So, during the Dragon Boat Festival, some indigenous persons, country doctors, and herbalists collect various kinds of plant and sell them to customers, retailers, or formal vendors at the traditional medicinal market.

Ethnobotanical methods

Field surveys including informant interview, structured investigation, free-listing tasks, and voucher specimen collection were conducted during the Dragon Boat Festival in 2016 and 2017. A total of 215 vendors between 22 and 83 years of age were interviewed at the traditional medicinal markets at the Dragon Boat Festival in Jianghua, Hunan Province, to record plants used for herbal tea and to document traditional knowledge on their medicinal function, habitat, and conservation status. Of the vendors, 70% were over 50 years of age, and these vendors were almost equally male and female. The study was carried out following the International Society of Ethnobiology Code of Ethics [7], and all of the participants were informed of our intent prior to the start of the interviews. In addition, every vendor signed a benefit-sharing agreement. The majority of the vendors worked independently or in small groups, and when the vendors spoke only the Yao language, translation was required by an individual that we had hired. Vendors were asked to complete structured ethnobotanical questionnaires, which were answered willingly without payment, the questions included (1) Which species are used for herbal tea? (2) Where do you gather this plant? (3) What plant parts can be used for herbal tea? (4) What is the function of this plant in herbal tea? and (5) What plants do Yao people here use for herbal tea? Bunches of medicinal plants were purchased to identify the species and to prepare the voucher specimens followed by the Flora of China (http://frps.eflora.cn/) and the collections in PE (the Herbarium, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences), and KUN (the Herbarium, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences). We then deposited them in the Ethnobotanical Lab, Minzu University of China. Photographs were taken to record all of the plant species.

The conservation status of each plant was revised by the Information System of Chinese Rare and Endangered Plants (http://rep.iplant.cn/protlist/7) (Table 1).
Table 1

Medicinal plants used for herbal tea in the traditional medicinal market of Jianghua County on Dragon Boat Festival

Family name

Scientific name

Chinese name

Yao name

Medicinal use

Part(s) used

Habitat

Originality

Conservation status

Use value

Frequency

Voucher number

Acanthaceae

Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Nees

穿心莲

Chuan fin lian

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) P268

NE

1.10

16

JH-141

Aceraceae

Acer mono Maxim.

色木槭

Se diang qie

Rheumatism

Stem, leaf

Tree

NE

0.87

12

JH-021

Acoraceae

Acorus tatarinowii Schott

石菖蒲

Lao bie chang pu

Cold

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) P91

NE

0.87

65

JH-202

Adoxaceae

Viburnum odoratissimum Ker-Gawl.

珊瑚树

Shan hu dang

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Shrub

NE

0.85

39

JH-035

Amaranthaceae

Achyranthes aspera L.

土牛膝

Tu ong che bo

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, rheumatism, nourishing, relieve pain

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.51

45

JH-267

Amaranthaceae

Achyranthes bidentata Blume

牛膝

Ong che bo

Nourishing

Root

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p72

NE

0.85

56

JH-050

Angiopteridaceae

Angiopteris fokiensis Hieron.

福建观音座莲

Fu jian guan yin zuo lian

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, relieve pain

Rhizome

Fern

NE

1.25

18

JH-222

Annonaceae

Fissistigma polyanthum (Hook. f. et Thoms.) Merr.

黑风藤

Ji jia mei

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Shrub

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (1977) p593

NE

0.84

40

JH-298

Apocynaceae

Cynanchum paniculatum (Bunge) Kitagawa

徐长卿

Xu chang qing

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation, relieve cough

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p285

NE

1.25

64

JH-278

Apocynaceae

Dischidia australis Tsiang et P. T. Li

尖叶眼树莲

Lai nong mu jin diang lian

Eliminating inflammation, rheumatism

Whole plant

Vine

NE

1.09

33

JH-127

Apocynaceae

Marsdenia sinensis Hemsl.

牛奶菜

Ong you lai

Rheumatism, promote blood circulation, heatstroke

Stem

Vine

NE

1.09

35

JH-151

Apocynaceae

Trachelospermum jasminoides (Lindl.) Lem.

络石

Luo lao

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Vine

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p269

NE

0.84

30

JH-045

Aquifoliaceae

Ilex chinensis Sims

冬青

Dong men

Promote blood circulation

Bark, seed

Tree

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (1977) p107

NE

0.84

41

JH-182

Araceae

Pothos chinensis (Raf.) Merr.

石柑子

Lao bie gan zei

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Vine

NE

0.84

33

JH-185

Araceae

Typhonium flagelliforme (Lodd.) Blume

鞭檐犁头尖

Bian yan li tou jian

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve cough

Root

Herb

NE

1.09

16

JH-017

Araliaceae

Acanthopanax evodiaefolius Franch.

吴茱萸五加

Wu zhu yu heng jia

Rheumatism

Rhizome

Shrub

NE

0.84

39

JH-102

Araliaceae

Heteropanax fragrans (Roxb.) Seem.

幌伞枫

Huang fan jia

Rheumatism

Bark, pith

Tree

NE

0.83

36

JH-220

Araliaceae

Panax japonicus (T. Nees) C. A. Mey.

竹节参

Lao a shen

Nourishing, eliminating phlegm, stop bleeding, relieve pain

Rhizome

Herb

Japanese Pharmacopoeia 17

NE

1.48

15

JH-244

Araliaceae

Schefflera octophylla (Linn.) Frodin

鹅掌柴

E zhuan zhan

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, rheumatism, relaxing tendons, and activating collaterals

Leaf, bark

Shrub

NE

1.47

40

JH-081

Aristolochiaceae

Asarum sagittarioides C. F. Liang

山慈菇

Geng ci jiu

Rheumatism, relieve pain

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p32

NE

1.09

23

JH-277

Basellaceae

Basella alba L.

落葵

Luo kui

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Leaf, whole plant

Herb

NE

1.08

37

JH-119

Berberidaceae

Dysosma versipellis (Hance) M. Cheng ex Ying

八角莲

Ba guo lian

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation

Rhizome

Herb

VU

1.08

12

JH-235

Berberidaceae

Mahonia fortunei (Lindl.) Fedde

十大功劳

Jie da gong luo

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Root, stem

Shrub

NE

0.83

60

JH-241

Caesalpiniaceae

Bauhinia championii (Benth.) Benth.

龙须藤

Long xu mei

Rheumatism, relaxing tendons, and activating collaterals, relieve pain

Stem

Vine

NE

1.45

31

JH-285

Cannabinaceae

Humulus scandens (Lour.) Merr.

葎草

Lv mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.08

17

JH-226

Caprifoliaceae

Lonicera confusa (Sweet) DC.

华南忍冬

Hua nan yin dong

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Flower, stem, leaf

Vine

NE

0.83

56

JH-149

Caprifoliaceae

Lonicera japonica Thunb.

忍冬

Yin dong

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation

Stem

Vine

NE

1.08

48

JH-085

Celastraceae

Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb.

南蛇藤

Nan nang mei

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, rheumatism

Fruit

Vine

NE

1.07

34

JH-287

Celastraceae

Euonymus fortunei (Turcz.) Hand.-Mazz.

扶芳藤

Fu fang mei

Relaxing tendons and activating collaterals

Stem, leaf

Shrub

NE

1.07

53

JH-066

Celastraceae

Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f.

雷公藤

Bu ong mei

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Shrub

NE

0.80

48

JH-118

Chloranthaceae

Chloranthus fortunei (A. Gray) Solms-Laub.

丝穗金粟兰

Si sui jin su lan

Rheumatism, cold, heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve cough

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.39

73

JH-055

Colchicaceae

Disporum cantoniense (Lour.) Merr.

万寿竹

Wan shou lao

Relieve cough, promote digestion

Rhizome

Herb

NE

1.06

40

JH-214

Commelinaceae

Murdannia keisak (Hassk.) Hand.-Mazz.

疣草

You mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.05

34

JH-093

Compositae

Achillea millefolium L.

Shi

Rheumatism, gynaecopathia

Leaf, flower

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p350

NE

1.04

32

JH-016

Compositae

Artemisia argyi Levl. et Van.

Ai

Gynaecopathia

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.80

93

JH-005

Compositae

Artemisia capillaris Thunb.

茵陈蒿

Yin chen hao

Promote digestion, eliminating inflammation

Leaf

Herb

Japanese Pharmacopoeia 17

NE

1.02

35

JH-062

Compositae

Artemisia dubia Wall. ex Bess.

牛尾蒿

Ong dui hao

Rheumatism, heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation

Whole plant

Herb

Tibetan medicineIp16

NE

1.25

34

JH-156

Compositae

Artemisia princeps Pamp

魁蒿

Kui hao

Rheumatism, nourishing, gynaecopathia, eliminating inflammation, stop bleeding

Leaf

Herb

NE

1.74

9

JH-245

Compositae

Aster tataricus L. f.

紫菀

Zi wan

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Root

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p342

NE

1.02

35

JH-003

Compositae

Centipeda minima (L.) A. Br. et Aschers.

石胡荽

Lao bie hu sui

Rheumatism, promote blood circulation, eliminating inflammation

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.24

52

JH-162

Compositae

Cirsium japonicum Fisch. ex DC.

Ji

Nourishing, gynaecopathia, promote blood circulation, stop bleeding, eliminating inflammation

Whole plant, root

Herb

NE

1.68

26

JH-215

Compositae

Dendranthema lavandulifolium (Fisch. ex Trautv.) Ling & Shih

甘菊

Gan ju

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.80

39

JH-166

Compositae

Dendranthema morifolium (Ramat.) Tzvel.

菊花

Ju ban

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, rheumatism, improve eyesight

Flower

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p310

NE

1.24

68

JH-047

Compositae

Farfugium japonicum (L. f.) Kitam.

大吴风草

Lu wu jia mi

Gynaecopathia, relieve cough

Root

Herb

NE

1.01

34

JH-280

Compositae

Gerbera anandria (L.) Sch.-Bip.

大丁草

Lu ding mi

Hepatitis

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.80

43

JH-255

Compositae

Gerbera piloselloides (Linn.) Cass.

毛大丁草

Bie lu ding mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation, infantile malnutrition

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.24

43

JH-223

Compositae

Grangea maderaspatana (L.) Poir.

田基黄

Lin ji yang

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.79

71

JH-201

Compositae

Gynura japonica (Thunb.) Juel.

菊三七

Ju fang qie

Diabetes, infantile malnutrition

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.01

46

JH-137

Compositae

Inula japonica Thunb.

旋覆花

Xuan fu ban

Infantile malnutrition

Root, leaf, flower

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p325

NE

0.79

15

JH-172

Compositae

Kalimeris indica (L.) Sch. -Bip.

马兰

Ma lan

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve cough

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.00

38

JH-188

Compositae

Senecio scandens Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don

千里光

Qian lei guang

Skin disease, improve eyesight, heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p33

NE

1.22

63

JH-076

Convolvulaceae

Cuscuta chinensis Lam.

菟丝子

Tu si zei

Nourishing

Seed

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p309

NE

0.78

21

JH-286

Convolvulaceae

Dichondra repens Forst.

马蹄金

Ma dei jin

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.78

51

JH-270

Crassulaceae

Sedum emarginatum Migo

凹叶景天

Ao nong jing lu

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, stop bleeding, hepatitis

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.21

67

JH-123

Crassulaceae

Sedum kamtschaticum Fisch.

堪察加景天

Kan cha jia jing lu

Eliminating inflammation, promote blood circulation, stop bleeding

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.21

2

JH-242

Cruciferae

Rorippa indica (L.) Hiern.

蔊菜

Han cai

Stop bleeding, relieve cough

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (1977) p624

NE

1.00

43

JH-092

Cucurbitaceae

Hemsleya macrosperma C. Y. Wu ex C. Y. Wu et C. L. Chen

罗锅底

Luo ceng di

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, gastrointestinal disease

Tuber

Vine

NE

0.99

37

JH-283

Cucurbitaceae

Thladiantha dubia Bunge

赤瓟

Chi bo

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, relieve cough

Fruit, root

Shrub

NE

1.21

18

JH-187

Drynaria

Pseudodrynaria coronans (Wall. ex Mett.) Ching

崖姜

Ya su

Rheumatism, nourishing, relaxing tendons and activating collaterals

Rhizome

Fern

NE

1.37

63

JH-183

Equisetaceae

Equisetum arvense L.

问荆

Nai jin

Stop bleeding

Whole plant

Fern

NE

0.77

25

JH-289

Equisetaceae

Equisetum ramosissimum Desf. subsp. debile (Roxb. ex Vauch.) Hauke

笔管草

Ba gu mi

Improve eyesight, induce diuresis

Whole plant

Fern

NE

0.97

42

JH-197

Euphorbiaceae

Glochidion puberum (L.) Hutch.

算盘子

Fu bian zei

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote digestion, promote blood circulation

Root

Shrub

NE

1.20

39

JH-091

Fabaceae

Callerya speciosa (Champ. ex Benth.) Schot

美丽鸡血藤

Hao zui jia jiang mei

Nourishing, heat-clearing and detoxifying, relaxing tendons and activating collaterals

Root

Vine

NE

1.37

38

JH-269

Fabaceae

Desmodium multiflorum DC.

饿蚂蝗

E ma huang

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, infantile malnutrition

Flower, branch

Shrub

NE

0.97

36

JH-144

Fabaceae

Entada phaseoloides (Linn.) Merr.

榼藤

Ke mei

Rheumatism, nourishing, promote blood circulation

Stem

Vine

NE

1.20

15

JH-143

Fabaceae

Flemingia philippinensis Merr. et Rolfe

千斤拔

Qin jiang ben

Nourishing

Root

Shrub

NE

0.77

51

JH-012

Fabaceae

Gleditsia sinensis Lam.

皂荚

Zao jia

Eliminate phlegm, induce diuresis

Pod, seed, shoot thorn

Tree

NE

0.95

42

JH-256

Fabaceae

Indigofera decora Lindl. var. ichangensis (Craib) Y. Y. Fang et C. Z. Zheng

宜昌木蓝

Yi chang mu lan

High fever

Root

Shrub

NE

0.77

42

JH-080

Fabaceae

Kummerowia striata (Thunb.) Schindl.

鸡眼草

Jia mu jin mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, promote digestion

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.19

67

JH-290

Fabaceae

Lespedeza cuneata G. Don

截叶铁扫帚

Jie nong li bu. gan dao

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, improve eyesight, infantile malnutrition

Whole plant

Shrub

NE

1.19

18

JH-292

Gramineae

Lophatherum gracile Brongn.

淡竹叶

Cuan lao nong

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve cough, induce diuresis

Root

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p328

NE

1.19

72

JH-243

Gramineae

Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng.

狼尾草

Lang dui mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve cough

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.95

28

JH-106

Gramineae

Saccharum spontaneum L.

甜根子草

Gan mi zei mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, cold, relieve cough

Rhizome, stem

Herb

NE

1.18

57

JH-276

Guttiferae

Hypericum japonicum Thunb. ex Murray

地耳草

Dao mu nong mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, promote digestion

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (1977) p198

NE

1.18

42

JH-189

Guttiferae

Hypericum monogynum L.

金丝桃

Jin si tao

Rheumatism, relieve cough, stomachache

Root

Shrub

NE

1.18

48

JH-140

Guttiferae

Hypericum sampsonii Hance

元宝草

Yuan bao mi

Gynaecopathia, heat-clearing and detoxifying, relaxing tendons and activating collaterals

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (1977) p79

NE

1.37

52

JH-131

Juncaceae

Juncus effusus L.

灯心草

Dang fin mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis, respiratory disease, relieve cough

Spith

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p147

NE

1.36

60

JH-262

Labiatae

Leonurus artemisia (Laur.) S. Y. Hu

益母草

Yi mu cao

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p290

NE

0.77

67

JH-075

Labiatae

Lycopus lucidus Turcz.

地笋

Dao bia

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.76

38

JH-033

Labiatae

Mosla chinensis Maxim.

石香薷

Shi xiang ru

Heatstroke

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.76

9

JH-019

Labiatae

Pogostemon auricularius (L.) Kassk.

珍珠菜

Zhen zhu lai

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.74

40

JH-239

Labiatae

Prunella vulgaris L.

夏枯草

Xia ku cao

Improve eyesight, promote blood circulation

Fruit cluster, flower

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p280

NE

0.74

67

JH-179

Labiatae

Scutellaria barbata D. Don

半枝莲

Dan zhi lian

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis, cold

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p118

NE

1.18

36

JH-042

Lauraceae

Cinnamomum appelianum Schewe

毛桂

Mao gui

Rheumatism

Bark, root

Tree

NE

0.73

42

JH-088

Liliaceae

Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge

知母

Zei ma

Promote digestion, gynaecopathia

Rhizome

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p212

NE

0.94

13

JH-113

Liliaceae

Aspidistra elatior Blume

蜘蛛抱蛋

Geng you luo jiao

Nourishing, promote blood circulation, relieve cough

Rhizome

Herb

NE

0.94

62

JH-174

Liliaceae

Aspidistra retusa K. Y. Lang et S. Z. Huang

广西蜘蛛抱蛋

Jiang fai geng you luo jiao

Nourishing, promote blood circulation, relieve cough

Rhizome

Herb

NE

0.93

37

JH-130

Liliaceae

Liriope platyphylla Wang et Tang

阔叶山麦冬

Jiag nong geng me dong

Nourishing

Tuber

Herb

NE

0.73

59

JH-271

Liliaceae

Ophiopogon bodinieri Levl.

沿阶草

Yan gai mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Tuber

Herb

NE

0.72

57

JH-069

Liliaceae

Ophiopogon japonicus (L. f.) Ker-Gawl.

麦冬

Me dong

Nourishing

Tuber

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p155

NE

0.72

61

JH-217

Liliaceae

Polygonatum sibiricum Delar. ex Redoute

黄精

Yang jing

Nourishing

Rhizome

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p306

NE

0.71

59

JH-236

Liliaceae

Reineckia carnea (Andr.) Kunth

吉祥草

Ji xiang mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve cough

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.93

59

JH-251

Loranthaceae

Viscum articulatum Burm. f.

扁枝槲寄生

Bian zhi hu ji sheng

Rheumatism, respiratory disease, promote blood circulation

Branch, leaf

Shrub

NE

1.18

49

JH-211

Loranthaceae

Viscum diospyrosicolum Hayata

棱枝槲寄生

Shi ji sheng

Rheumatism, heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation, relaxing tendons and activating collaterals

Whole plant

Phytoparasite

NE

1.60

43

JH-111

Loranthaceae

Viscum liquidambaricolum Hayata

枫香槲寄生

Feng xiang hu ji sheng

Rheumatism, relaxing tendons and activating collaterals, promote blood circulation, resolve phlegm to relieve cough

Branch, leaf

Phytoparasite

NE

1.60

37

JH-107

Lycopodoaceae

Diphasiastrum complanatum (L.) Holub

扁枝石松

Bian zhi shi song

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.68

65

JH-297

Lygodiaceae

Lygodium japonicum (Thunb.) Sw.

海金沙

Hai jin sha

Induce diuresis, calculus, rheumatism

Spore, whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p294

NE

1.17

59

JH-216

Lythraceae

Lythrum salicaria L.

千屈菜

Qin qu lai

Infantile malnutrition, stop bleeding

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.93

13

JH-148

Lythraceae

Rotala rotundifolia (Buch.-Ham. ex Roxb.) Koehne

圆叶节节菜

Jun nong a a lai

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.67

33

JH-272

Melastomataceae

Melastoma dodecandrum Lour.

地菍

Dao nian

Promote digestion

Whole plant

Shrub

NE

0.67

71

JH-263

Melastomataceae

Memecylon scutellatum (Lour.) Hook. et Arn.

细叶谷木

Fai nong cu diang

Heart disease

Flower

Shrub

NE

0.67

4

JH-157

Melastomataceae

Osbeckia opipara C. Y. Wu et C. Chen

朝天罐

Chao lu guan

Eliminating inflammation, promote digestion, heat-clearing and detoxifying, stop bleeding

Whole plant, root

Shrub

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (1977) p574

NE

1.34

42

JH-115

Menispermaceae

Stephania cepharantha Hayata

金线吊乌龟

Jin sui di wu gui

Eliminating inflammation

Tuber

Vine

NE

0.66

39

JH-168

Menispermaceae

Stephania lincangensis Lo et M. Yang

临沧地不容

Lin cang dao en rong

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, relieve pain

Tuber

Vine

NE

1.17

3

JH-053

Menispermaceae

Tinospora sagittata (Oliv.) Gagnep.

青牛胆

Men ong dan

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation, relieve pain

Tuber

Vine

NE

1.16

46

JH-231

Moraceae

Ficus pumila Linn.

薜荔

Xue li

Nourishing, rheumatism

Fruit

Shrub

NE

0.92

40

JH-002

Musaceae

Musa basjoo Sieb. & Zucc.

芭蕉

Ba jiao

Heart disease

Flower

Herb

NE

0.65

26

JH-006

Myrsinaceae

Ardisia affinis Hemsl.

细罗伞

Fai luo fan

Promote blood circulation

Root

Shrub

NE

0.63

56

JH-095

Myrsinaceae

Ardisia chinensis Benth.

小紫金牛

Fai zi jin ong

Promote blood circulation, heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation, stop bleeding

Whole plant

Shrub

NE

1.34

59

JH-001

Myrsinaceae

Ardisia crenata Sims var. bicolor (Walker) C. Y. Wu et C. Chen

朱砂根

Zhu sha jiang

Rheumatism, respiratory disease

Whole plant

Shrub

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p138

NE

0.92

53

JH-254

Myrsinaceae

Ardisia japonica (Thunb) Blume

紫金牛

Zi jin ong

Rheumatism, promote blood circulation, cold, relieve cough

Whole plant, root

Shrub

NE

1.33

62

JH-121

Myrsinaceae

Embelia rudis Hand.-Mazz.

网脉酸藤子

Wang me sui mei

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Shrub

NE

0.62

38

JH-004

Orchidaceae

Bulbophyllum odoratissimum (J. E. Smith) Lindl.

密花石豆兰

Mi ban lao bie de lan

Respiratory disease, infantile malnutrition, relax tendons and activate collaterals, eliminating inflammation

Whole plant

Herb

LC

1.57

41

JH-264

Orchidaceae

Bulbophyllum pectinatum Finet

长足石豆兰

Zao da lao bie de lan

Respiratory disease, relieve cough

Whole plant

Herb

VU

0.91

41

JH-041

Orchidaceae

Dendrobium nobile Lindl.

石斛

Lao bie hu

Diabetes, improve eyesight, nourishing, promote digestion

Stem

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p92

VU

1.33

66

JH-101

Orchidaceae

Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo

铁皮石斛

Li lao bie hu

Stomachache

Stem

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p282

 

0.61

41

JH-265

Orchidaceae

Galeola lindleyana (Hook. f. et Thoms.) Rchb. f.

毛萼山珊瑚

Mao e shan shan hu

Rheumatism, headache

Whole plant

Shrub

LC

0.91

52

JH-058

Orchidaceae

Luisia morsei Rolfe

钗子股

Chai zi gu

Rheumatism, respiratory disease, cold, cancer

Whole plant

Herb

LC

1.33

13

JH-133

Orchidaceae

Spiranthes sinensis (Pers.) Ames

绶草

Shou mi

Nourishing, heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

LC

1.16

11

JH-122

Papaveraceae

Eomecon chionantha Hance

血水草

Jiang wen mi

Promote blood circulation

Root, rhizome

Herb

NE

0.59

14

JH-219

Phyllanthaceae

Phyllanthus urinaria L.

叶下珠

Nong di zhu

Improve eyesight, heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote digestion

Whole plant, root

Herb

NE

1.15

69

JH-083

Pipperaceae

Piper betle L.

蒌叶

Lou nong

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation, cold

Stem, leaf

Vine

NE

1.15

40

JH-029

Pittosporaceae

Pittosporum glabratum Lindl.

光叶海桐

Jiang nong hai tong

Tuberculosis

Seed, bark

Shrub

NE

0.58

40

JH-173

Polygalaceae

Polygala japonica Houtt.

瓜子金

Jin gua zei

Eliminating phlegm, heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p112

NE

0.91

38

JH-037

Polygalaceae

Polygala tenuifolia Willd.

远志

Gu zei

Nourishing, eliminating phlegm, strengthen muscles and bones

Bark

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p156

NE

1.14

39

JH-191

Polygonaceae

Fagopyrum dibotrys (D. Don) Hara

金荞麦

Jin qiao me

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, calculus

Root, rhizome

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p218

LC

1.14

52

JH-230

Polygonaceae

Fallopia multiflora (Thunb.) Harald.

何首乌

Huo shou wu

Nourishing

Tuber

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p175

NE

0.52

55

JH-192

Polypodiaceae

Lepidogrammitis drymoglossoides (Baker) Ching

抱石莲

Luo lao bie lian

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis, stop bleeding

Whole plant

Fern

NE

1.13

54

JH-057

Polypodiaceae

Lepisorus thunbergianus (Kaulf.) Ching

瓦韦

Wa wei

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis, relieve cough

Whole plant

Fern

NE

1.13

52

JH-116

Polypodiaceae

Microsorum fortunei (T. Moore) Ching

江南星蕨

Jiang nan xing jue

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Fern

NE

0.52

62

JH-059

Portulacaceae

Portulaca oleracea L.

马齿苋

Ma chi xian

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating phlegm

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p49

NE

0.91

37

JH-007

Primulaceae

Plantago asiatica L.

车前

Qi dan men

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis, eliminating phlegm

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.13

69

JH-018

Ranunculaceae

Clematis henryi Oliv.

单叶铁线莲

Dan nong li sui lian

Eliminating phlegm, relieve pain, relieve cough

Root, leaf

Vine

--, c

NE

1.13

1

JH-026

Ranunculaceae

Clematis uncinata Champ.

柱果铁线莲

Zhu guo li sui lian

Rheumatism, stop bleeding, toothache, relaxing tendons and activating collaterals

Root, leaf

Vine

NE

1.32

1

JH-155

Rhamnaceae

Rhamnus crenata Sieb. et Zucc.

长叶冻绿

Nong da dong lu

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Shrub

NE

0.48

2

JH-071

Rhamnaceae

Rhamnus globosa Bunge

圆叶鼠李

Jun nong na jun li

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Fruit

Shrub

NE

0.47

9

JH-273

Rhamnaceae

Sageretia thea (Osbeck) Johnst.

雀梅藤

Que mei mei

Eliminating phlegm, rheumatism

Aerial part

Shrub

NE

0.47

41

JH-198

Rosaceae

Geum aleppicum Jacq.

路边青

Jiao leng men

Rheumatism, heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve pain

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.13

60

JH-100

Rosaceae

Potentilla discolor Bge.

翻白草

Bian bei mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, stop bleeding, diabetes

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p383

NE

1.12

45

JH-190

Rosaceae

Sanguisorba officinalis L.

地榆

Di yu

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, stop bleeding, relieve pain

Root

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p126

NE

1.11

35

JH-209

Rubiaceae

Damnacanthus indicus Gaertn.

虎刺

Hu ci

Infantile malnutrition, nourishing, relieve pain, cold, hepatitis

Whole plant

Shrub

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (1977) p341

NE

1.29

72

JH-234

Rubiaceae

Hedyotis auricularia L.

耳草

Tu nong mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote digestion, relieve cough, cold, promote blood circulation

Leaf

Herb

NE

1.54

62

JH-206

Rubiaceae

Paederia scandens (Lour.) Merr.

鸡矢藤

Jia gai mei

Rheumatism, promote digest, heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Vine

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (1977) p312

NE

1.11

31

JH-074

Rubiaceae

Serissa serissoides (DC.) Druce

白马骨

Bei ma mei

Rheumatism, heat-clearing and detoxifying, relax tendons and activate collaterals

Whole plant

Shrub

NE

1.11

60

JH-051

Saururaceae

Houttuynia cordata Thunb

蕺菜

Ji lai

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, respiratory disease, heatstroke

Root, leaf

Herb

NE

1.11

9

JH-089

Saururaceae

Saururus chinensis (Lour.) Baill.

三白草

Bu bei mi

Gynaecopathia

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p12

NE

0.46

65

JH-061

Saxifragaceae

Astilbe rivularis Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don

溪畔落新妇

Xi pan luo xin fu

Rheumatism, promote blood circulation, relieve pain, promote digestion

Rhizome

Herb

NE

1.29

16

JH-032

Stachyuraceae

Stachyurus chinensis Franch.

中国旌节花

Zhong guo sheng jie hua

Gynaecopathia, heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation, induce diuresis

Pith

Shrub

NE

1.29

35

JH-068

Stemonaceae

Stemona tuberosa Lour.

大百部

Dong bei bo

Respiratory disease

Tuber

Vine

NE

0.45

78

JH-281

Sterculiaceae

Pterospermum heterophyllum Hance

翻白叶树

Bian bei nong diang

Rheumatism, relax tendons and activate collaterals, relieve pain

Whole plant

Tree

NE

1.11

39

JH-109

Taccaceae

Schizocapsa plantaginea Hance

裂果薯

Nong hu duai

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation, stop bleeding

Rhizome

Herb

NE

1.11

54

JH-011

Trilliaceae

Paris polyphylla Sm.

七叶一枝花

Qi ye yi zhi hua

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve cough

Rhizome

Herb

 

0.91

30

JH-260

Umbelliferae

Bupleurum chinense DC.

北柴胡

Bei chai hu

Eliminating inflammation, heat-clearing and detoxifying, cold, fever

Root

Herb

NE

1.28

31

JH-030

Umbelliferae

Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides Lam.

天胡荽

Tian hu sui

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote digest, infantile malnutrition

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.10

69

JH-060

Umbelliferae

Peucedanum guangxiense Shan et Sheh

广西前胡

Jiang fai qian hu

Cold, rheumatism

Root

Herb

NE

0.90

36

JH-024

Umbelliferae

Sanicula chinensis Bunge

变豆菜

Ben de lai

Relieve cough, promote digestion, heat-clearing and detoxifying, eliminating inflammation

Whole plant

Herb

NE

1.28

19

JH-025

Urticaceae

Boehmeria nivea (L.) Gaudich.

苎麻

Zhu ma

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis, stop bleeding, nourishing

Rhizome, leaf

Shrub

NE

1.26

33

JH-291

Urticaceae

Parietaria micrantha Ledeb.

墙草

Jiong mi

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote digestion

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.90

9

JH-099

Urticaceae

Pilea cavaleriei Levl.

波缘冷水花

Bo yuan wen nan ban

Relieve cough, heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.90

41

JH-194

Urticaceae

Pilea cavaleriei Levl. subsp. valida C. J. Chen

石油菜

Lao bie you lai

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve pain

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.90

37

JH-063

Usneaceae

Usnea diffracta (Vain.) Articus

松萝

Song luo

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Thallus

Uygur medicine p49

NE

0.33

71

JH-147

Verbenaceae

Clerodendrum philippinum Schauer var. simplex Moldenke

臭茉莉

Zui mo li

Rheumatism, promote blood circulation, relieve pain, heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote digestion

Root, leaf, whole plant

Shrub

NE

1.52

46

JH-164

Verbenaceae

Clerodendrum cyrtophyllum Turcz.

大青

Dong qin

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, rheumatism

Root, leaf

Shrub

NE

0.89

51

JH-142

Verbenaceae

Verbena officinalis L.

马鞭草

Ma bian mi

Rheumatism, heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, eliminating inflammation

Whole plant

Herb

Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015) p52

NE

1.25

45

JH-135

Violaceae

Viola inconspicua Blume

长萼堇菜

Da e jin lai

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation

Whole plant

Herb

NE

0.89

10

JH-252

Vitaceae

Ampelopsis grossedentata (Hand.-Mazz.) W. T. Wang

显齿蛇葡萄

Xian chi nan pu tao

Respiratory disease, heat-clearing and detoxifying, hypertension

Stem, leaf

Vine

NE

1.10

46

JH-120

Vitaceae

Cayratia japonica (Thunb.) Gagnep.

乌蔹莓

Wu lian mei

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis

Whole plant

Vine

NE

0.88

39

JH-108

Vitaceae

Euphorbia humifusa Willd. ex Schlecht.

地锦

Dao jin

Rheumatism, promote blood circulation

Root, stem, fruit

Vine

NE

0.88

9

JH-266

Xanthorrhoeaceae

Hemerocallis citrina Baroni

黄花菜

Yang ban lai

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, nourishing

Root, flower

Herb

NE

0.87

19

JH-090

VU vulnerable, LC least concern, NE not evaluated

Statistical analysis

Cognitive salience (CS) [8] and use value (UV) [9] were applied to determine the greatest cognitive and cultural importance of these medical plants in Jianghua.

Free-listing is a method to obtain cognitive salience from relatively large samples [10, 11]. Interviewers collected traditional knowledge from large samples of free-lists which reveal cognitive salience from individuals’ local knowledge. The measure of cognitive salience includes both list position and list frequency irrespective of list length or number of respondents [8, 12]. We interviewed 215 informants and recorded 215 free-lists; here, we calculated the mean cognitive salience (CS) for each listed species,
$$ \mathrm{CS}=\frac{\left[\sum B+F-1\right]}{\left[2Z-1\right]} $$
$$ B=\frac{\left[K-r(i)\right]}{\left[K-1\right]} $$

F is the number of lists where the particular species is mentioned in all lists while Z is the number of informants. B determines how one plant precedes other plants mentioned in a respondent’s list. K is the number of listed species in one informant, and r (i) is the ith order of each plant’s list position.

The closer to the first position (or rank) the item(s) are, the greater the cognitive salience of item(s) is deemed to be.

The use value (UV) is to quantitatively evaluate the relative importance of species [1315] used by Yao people,
$$ UV=\sum Ui/N $$

where Ui refers to the number of medical use cited by an informant for per species and N is the total number of all informants. When there are many use reports mentioned for one plant, it indicates the use value of this plant is high.

The coefficient of similarity (S) of herbal tea plants between Jianghua and Lingnan regions was calculated by the following formula: S = 2c/(a + b) (a and b are species used by Jianghua and Lingnan regions, respectively; c are species in common use) [16].

Chi-square analysis was applied to find whether the traditional knowledge of herbal tea such as plant life form and plant part(s) used varied considerably between Jianghua and Lingnan.

Results

Medicinal plant species sold for herbal tea at the traditional medicinal markets

Plant species and life form

According to the results of the taxonomical identification, the medicinal plants used for herbal tea belong to 169 species, grouped into 142 genera and 66 families. In alphabetical order of the family, they are presented in Table 1. Further analyses on the plant families show that Compositae has 18 species, making it the dominant family. Liliaceae, Leguminosae, Orchidaceae, Labiatae, and Myrsinaceae are represented by 11, 9, 7, 6, and 5 species, followed by Urticaceae, Umbelliferae, Rubiaceae, and Araliaceae, with 4 species each, and 13 families containing 3 species, 14 families containing 2 species, and 29 families containing 1 species (Fig. 2). Of the 169 species, the most frequent habits of medicinal plants were herbs (97 spp.), followed by shrubs (35 spp.), vines (22 spp.), ferns (7 spp.), trees (6 spp.), phytoparasites (2 spp.), and thalli (1 sp.) (Fig. 3).
Fig. 2
Fig. 2

Dominant medicinal plant families used for herbal tea in the Jianghua traditional medicinal market, China, where f > 3, and f is the number of species in a family; for families where f < 3, these were summarized as “others”

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

Habitat of herbs used for herbal tea in Jianghua

Part(s) used

In this study, the analysis revealed that there were 16 kinds of plant parts that were used for herbal tea as medicinal materials. The whole plant was the most commonly used plant part (38.4%), followed by root (14.2%), leaf (9.13%), stem (7.76%), rhizome (7.76%), and tuber (5.02%) (Fig. 4). The study also found that some other plant parts, such as the flower, fruit, bark, pod, seed, pith, branch, shoot thorn, shoot, and fruit cluster, are used less frequently.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4

Plant parts used for herbal tea in Jianghua

Conservation status

According to the evaluation criteria established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (http://rep.iplant.cn/protlist), three of these species are listed on “China’s red list” and registered as vulnerable (VU), which means that they are at the highest risk for endangerment, namely, Dysosma versipellis, Bulbophyllum pectinatum, and Dendrobium nobile. In addition, five species are categorized under least concern (LC), which is a lower category of risk; they are Bulbophyllum odoratissimum, Galeola lindleyana, Luisia morsei, Spiranthes sinensis, and Fagopyrum dibotrys, and 159 species were not evaluated (NE) while Paris polyphylla is listed as second degree national protective plants and Dendrobium officinale is listed as first degree national protective plants. There is a need to investigate and provide proper management to avoid a shortage.

Medicinal uses

In our study, a total of 30 medicinal uses were recorded, and heat-clearing and detoxifying was the most common medicinal function, followed by treating rheumatism and promoting blood circulation (Fig. 5). In Jianghua, 49.11% of the medicinal plant species (83 spp.) are used for heat-clearing and detoxifying, 30.18% for treating rheumatism, 17.75% for promoting blood circulation, and 15.38% for relieving cough.
Fig. 5
Fig. 5

Plant species involved in each medical function

Cultural and medical significance of species

The cognitive salience of 169 species ranked from 0.012 to 0.343 (Table 1); 10 species listed as the most salient are Artemisia argyi Levl. et Van., Stemona tuberosa Lour., Chloranthus fortunei (A. Gray) Solms-Laub., Grangea maderaspatana (L.) Poir., Lophatherum gracile Brongn., Usnea diffracta (Vain.) Articus, Melastoma dodecandrum Lour., Damnacanthus indicus Gaertn., Plantago asiatica L., and Leonurus artemisia (Laur.) S. Y. Hu. The most 20 salient species are listed in Table 2. The greater the value of cognitive salience, the more culturally important the species is. For example, the highest value refers to Artemisia argyi Levl. et Van., which is a fundamental medicinal plant to local people. The least value of cognitive salience is Clematis uncinata Champ.
Table 2

Cognitive salience for 20 most value species

Scientific name

Chinese name

Cognitive salience

Artemisia argyi Levl. et Van.

0.343

Stemona tuberosa Lour.

大百部

0.278

Chloranthus fortunei (A. Gray) Solms-Laub.

丝穗金粟兰

0.264

Grangea maderaspatana (L.) Poir.

田基黄

0.261

Lophatherum gracile Brongn.

淡竹叶

0.251

Usnea diffracta (Vain.) Articus

松萝

0.251

Melastoma dodecandrum Lour.

地菍

0.249

Damnacanthus indicus Gaertn.

虎刺

0.247

Plantago asiatica L.

车前

0.242

Leonurus artemisia (Laur.) S. Y. Hu

益母草

0.241

Prunella vulgaris L.

夏枯草

0.239

Kummerowia striata (Thunb.) Schindl.

鸡眼草

0.238

Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides Lam.

天胡荽

0.237

Dendranthema morifolium (Ramat.) Tzvel.

菊花

0.237

Sedum emarginatum Migo

凹叶景天

0.236

Phyllanthus urinaria L.

叶下珠

0.233

Dendrobium nobile Lindl.

石斛

0.230

Saururus chinensis (Lour.) Baill.

三白草

0.224

Diphasiastrum complanatum (L.) Holub

扁枝石松

0.224

Acorus tatarinowii Schott

石菖蒲

0.223

The use value of 169 species ranked from 0.33 to 1.74. They are Artemisia princeps (1.74), Viscum liquidambaricola (1.68), Viscum diospyrosicola (1.60), Hedyotis auricularia (1.60), Clerodendrum chinense var. simplex (1.57), Cirsium japonicum (1.54), Achyranthes aspera L. (1.52), Schefflera octophylla (Linn.) Frodin (1.51), Panax japonicus (T. Nees) C. A. Mey. (1.48), and Pseudodrynaria coronans (1.47), which are widely and frequently used by local people.

Comparison of medicinal plant tradition in Jianghua and Lingnan

A comparison of plant materials commonly used for herbal tea in Jianghua and Lingnan shows that there are 23 plant species in total used for herbal tea (Table 3), and Compositae is the predominant family in two regions. For part(s) used for herbal tea, no matter whether they are from Lingnan or Jianghua, the vendors like to use whole plants and roots to prepare herbal tea. By comparing, we found that the common functions of the herbal tea produced by the people both in Jianghua and Lingnan are heat-clearing, detoxifying, and treating rheumatism.
Table 3

A comparison of plant materials commonly used for herbal tea in Jianghua and Lingnan

 

Plant species

Jianghua

Lingnan

Consistency in efficacy

Achyranthes aspera

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, rheumatism, nourishing, relieve pain

Whole plant

Clear heat and purge fire

Root

Achyranthes bidentata

Nourishing

Root

Activate blood and remove blood stasis, nourish the liver and the kidney, strengthen bones and muscles, alleviate edema and relieve stranguria, conduct blood-fire to go downward

Root

Mahonia fortunei

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Root, stem

Nourish yin and clear heat, warm lung and stop cough

Leaf

Lonicera confusa

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Flower, stem, leaf

Clear heat and relieve toxicity, disperse wind

Flower, stem

Lonicera japonica

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation

Stem

Clear heat and relieve toxicity, disperse wind

Flower, stem

Cirsium japonicum

Nourishing, gynaecopathia, promote blood circulation, stop bleeding, eliminating inflammation

Whole plant, root

Cool the blood and stop bleeding, eliminate toxic materials to treat carbuncle

Aerial part, root

Dendranthema morifolium

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, rheumatism, improve eyesight

Flower

Clear heat and relieve toxicity

Flower

Lophatherum gracile

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, relieve cough, induce diuresis

Root

Clear heat, sedative

Leaf, root

Juncus effusus

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis, respiratory disease, relieve cough

Spith

Clear away liver-heat and lower the fire

Pith

Prunella vulgaris

Improve eyesight, promote blood circulation

Fruit cluster, flower

Clear liver, purge fire, resolve knots, dissolve swelling, pacify liver and improve eyesight.

Whole plant

Gleditsia sinensis

Eliminate phlegm, induce diuresis

Pod, seed, shoot thorn

Relieve pathological heat and remove dampness through diuresis

Fruit

Anemarrhena asphodeloides

Promote digestion, gynaecopathia

Rhizome

Strengthen stomach and lung

Bulb

Ophiopogon japonicus

Nourishing

Tuber

Smooth lung and nourish yin

Root

Dendrobium nobile

Diabetes, improve eyesight, nourishing, promote digestion

Stem

Strengthen stomach and promote fluid production, nourish yin and clear heat

Stem

Plantago asiatica

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, induce diuresis, eliminating phlegm

Whole plant

Clear heat and dampness, induce diuresis

Whole plant, seed

Fagopyrum dibotrys

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, calculus

Root, rhizome

Clear heat and detoxifying

Rhizome

Artemisia argyi

Gynaecopathia

Whole plant

Stop bleeding, expel cold and alleviate pain by warming meridians

Aerial part

Inconsistency in efficacy

Fallopia multiflora

Nourishing

Tuber

Moisten intestines and relax bowls

Tuber

Parthenocissus tricuspidata

Rheumatism, promote blood circulation

Root, stem, fruit

Clear away heat and promote dieresis

Root, stem

Acorus tatarinowii

Cold

Whole plant

Eliminate dampness and stimulate appetite, regain consciousness through dispelling phlegm, induce resuscitation and strengthen intelligence

Rhizome

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Rheumatism

Whole plant

Clear heat and relieve toxicity

Aerial part

Hypericum japonicum

Heat-clearing and detoxifying, promote blood circulation, promote digestion

Whole plant

Clear liver, promote diuresis to drain dampness and relieve dyspepsia

Whole plant

Leonurus artemisia

Heat-clearing and detoxifying

Whole plant

Activate blood and dispel stasis, induce dieresis and alleviate edema

Whole plant

By comparing the herbal tea plants commonly used in Jianghua and Lingnan, there are 23 common plant species among which 6 species have different functions (Table 3). They are Fallopia multiflora, Parthenocissus tricuspidata, Acorus tatarinowii, Trachelospermum jasminoides, Hypericum japonicum, and Leonurus artemisia.

The coefficient of similarity of herbal tea plants commonly used in Jianghua and Lingnan is 11.2%. Using chi-square analysis, the number of mentions for part(s) used varied significantly between the two culturally distinct communities (p value < 0.05).

Discussion

Prospective value of herbal tea plants used by Yao people

Herbal tea in Lingnan region is based on the theory of traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM); many recipes used in herbal tea are evolved from prescriptions of TCM [17]. However, Yao people in Jianghua did not record their traditional knowledge of herbal tea with books or scripts instead of folksongs and teaching generations by experience and dictation. We compared herbal tea plant in Jianghua with Drug Standard Database (http://www.drugfuture.com/standard/), including Chinese PharmacopeiaI (2015 and 1977 versions), Tibetan medicineI, Uygur medicine, and Japanese Pharmacopoeia, and 124 species are not listed in Pharmacopeia (Table 1). Among these 124 species, the medicinal use of not all species can be supported by literatures. For example, Yao people in Jianghua indicated that Achyranthes aspera can relieve pain, which was verified by Barua et al. In 2010, they verified the antinociceptive activity of the methanolic extract of leaves of A. aspera in animal models of nociception [18]. Cirsium japonicum stops bleeding, which was verified by Chen Qi et al. in 2012 [19]. However, most of these 124 species cannot be found in the supporting literatures. Yao people in Jianghua generally believed that Clematis henryi is a good medicine for relieving pain, Heteropanax fragrans can treat rheumatism, and Marsdenia sinensis can treat heatstroke. There is a great need to further study these plant species.

The efficacy and safety of species used in Jianghua

In Jianghua, heat-clearing and detoxifying is the most common medicinal function, followed by treating rheumatism, because the Dragon Boat Festival is at the end of spring and the beginning of summer, weather conditions are hot and humid, so the main plant materials used for herbal tea are focused on heat-clearing and detoxifying and treating rheumatism.

In Jianghua, 22 species were involved in eliminating inflammation; however, of the 83 species used for heat-clearing and detoxifying, 14 species were involved in eliminating inflammation; it shows that 63.6% of the medicinal plant species sold to eliminate inflammation are also used for heat-clearing and detoxifying, so it is important to conduct some studies to understand the dual effect and discover the possible relationship, which is useful for the theoretical construction of the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Over the past 20 years, the safety [20] and pharmacological efficacy [2124] of herbal drinks have drawn attention. Findings have elucidated that some phytochemicals in herbal tea are beneficial to human health [2528], while some are risky to humans [2934]. Therefore, further research is needed to analyze the bioactivity and toxicity of herbal tea. Among 169 species, two of them are forbidden as raw materials for food based on an announcement from The National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China (http://www.nhfpc.gov.cn/). They are Dysosma versipellis (Hance) M. Cheng ex Ying and Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f.

Dysosma versipellis: Podophyllotoxin, a chemical compound isolated from D. versipellis, is recorded to show cytotoxicity resulting emesis, diarrhea, and hepatic and central nerve system lesion [3538]. However, due to its chemical function similar to colchicine, podophyllotoxin and its derivatives have been synthesized and utilized as anti-tumor drugs [39]. Besides, it was recorded to be used as an antiviral material for treating condyloma acuminatum caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) [40]. D. versipellis is largely be utilized for clearing heat and detoxification, rheumatism, and promoting blood circulation by Yao people in Jianghua. However, due to excessive consumption, the conservation status of D. versipellis on “China’s red list” is registered as vulnerable. At present, D. versipellis is cultivated in Jianghua.

Tripterygium wilfordii: The extract of T. wilfordii, a Chinese herb, has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive activities and an established history of use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis [41, 42]. However, the most common side effects of T. wilfordii are gastrointestinal tract disturbances, such as diarrhea, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, rash, skin pigmentation, and malfunction of the male and female reproductive system [43].

Comparison of plant materials used for herbal tea in Jianghua and Lingnan

The resurgence of interest in natural products has fueled the global herbal tea market. In 2013, Yujing Liu recorded 241 species used for herbal tea in Lingnan Region (China) [1]. By comparing the herbal tea plants commonly used by Jianghua and Lingnan, there are 23 common plant species, among which, there were 17 species that had consistent function and 6 species have different functions.

By comparing the 6 species having different functions in Jianghua and Lingnan, we cannot confirm that they have various medical functions. Achyranthes aspera, Fagopyrum dibotrys, Lonicera confuse, Lonicera japonica, Dendranthema morifolium, and Juncus effusus are heat-clearing and detoxifying herbs. In Chinese medicine, the lower the fire is equal to clear heat. We found that there may be a relationship between detoxifying and antibacterial or anti-inflammation properties, because most of the plants with detoxifying properties have antibacterial or anti-inflammation effects (Table 3) [4452]. For Gleditsia sinensis, Jianghua people pointed that it can induce diuresis, and the Lingnan people indicated that it can relieve pathological heat and remove dampness through diuresis. This may represent a direction for our study of the activity of Chinese herbs. So it will be necessary to verify the pharmacological activity in the future.

By comparing the herbal tea plants commonly used by Jianghua and Lingnan, the coefficient of similarity of herbal tea plants is 11.2%, which is low. We compared all plant parts used in the Jianghua and Lingnan regions. The common used plant parts are whole plant, root, leaf, stem, rhizome, tuber, flower, fruit, bark, seed, pith, branch, and shoot thorn. In Lingnan region, there are several particular used plant parts. They were aerial part, bulb, kernel, bud, peel, stigma, stem node with horns, and pollen. However, in Jianghua region, the particular used parts are pod, shoot, and fruit cluster. We selected all common used parts to do statistical analysis with chi-square analysis; the results (p value < 0.05, χ2 = 61.333) show the used plant parts varied significantly between these two different regions. Hence, the variation of used plant part in two regions accounts not only for the particular mentioned used parts but for varied usage rate of each common used part. For example, in Lingnan region, root (20.78%) is the most frequently mentioned used part, while in Lingnan region, it is whole plant (38.36%). The variation of plant part used suggests that the medical plant tradition is far different between the Lingnan and Jianghua regions. The low coefficient of similarity and the variation of plant part used reflect a relatively great difference of herbal tea plant tradition between Jianghua and Lingnan.

The traditional medicinal market is a bit unstructured

In the ethnobotanical surveys, we found that there are 14 poisonous species, which need to be payed attention. They are Pothos chinensis (Raf.) Merr., Typhonium flagelliforme (Lodd.) Blume, Trachelospermum jasminoides (Lindl.) Lem., Asarum sagittarioides C. F. Liang, Dysosma versipellis (Hance) M. Cheng ex Ying, Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb., Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f., Senecio scandens Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don, Hemsleya macrosperma C. Y. Wu ex C. Y. Wu et C. L. Chen, Reineckia carnea (Andr.) Kunth, Eomecon chionantha Hance, Fallopia multiflora (Thunb.) Harald., Stemona tuberosa Lour., and Schizocapsa plantaginea Hance. In addition, we do not know if there is a phenomenon of substitutes or adulterants in Jianghua traditional market. Based on the Drug Standard Database, we listed the originality of all of the species (Table 1). So, the plants that are nonexistent in the Drug Standard Database need to be scientifically investigated for their efficacy and safety in the future.

Conclusions

The traditional medical market in Jianghua Yao Autonomous County reflects the plant species richness and cultural diversity. Traditional knowledge of herbal tea is the result of the accumulated experience by the Yao people’s long-term struggle against disease, so many aspects must be scientific. With the rise of natural product drugs, there is the need to analyze the chemical composition and activity of the materials of herbal tea. Future research is also needed to understand the safety and efficacy of the recorded herbal tea. For sustainable utilization, the production of herbal tea should be monitored.

In addition, uniform standards of practice and licensing of herbal vendors is required to produce a safer herbal tea market. It is very important for them to have the knowledge to select the proper plants since some herbs are hard to identify due to similar morphological characteristics.

Notes

Abbreviations

CS: 

Cognitive salience

LC: 

Least concern

NE: 

Not evaluated

S: 

Coefficient of similarity

UV: 

Use value

VU: 

Vulnerable

Declarations

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to the 215 vendors from the traditional medicinal market in Jianghua, a Yao autonomous county; their spirits of sharing the traditional knowledge were critical to this study. We would like to sincerely thank Liu Bo for the valuable assistance in identifying the plant species. A special acknowledgment to Liu Sizhao and Zhang Beixi; they supplied valuable assistance in recording the information during our interviews. A particular thank to Wang Changxin and Jiang Chunrun who are local Yao people for providing us with translation assistances.

Funding

Funding was received from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 21505075, 31600254, and 31761143001), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (KJQN201630), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province of China (Grant No. BK20150491), National Science Foundation for Post-doctoral Scientists of China (Grant No. 2016M591810), Jiangsu Postdoctoral Sustentation Fund (Grant No. 1701070B), the Start-Up Fund for Advanced Talents of Jiangsu University (Grant No. 14JDG150), the Key Laboratory of Ethnomedicine (Minzu University of China) of Ministry of Education of China (KLEM-ZZ201806), the School of Agricultural Equipment Engineering at Jiangsu University, and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD, [2014]37).

Availability of data and materials

We are willing to share the data generated or analyzed during the current study.

Authors’ contributions

BJ and YL conceived of and designed the study, conducted the data collection, and analyzed the data. Literature retrieval was done by BJ and JX. Field surveys were conducted by YL, BL, and CL. BJ and YL drafted the manuscript. CL revised the manuscript and in particular the inventory. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

We followed the ethical guidelines adopted by the International Society of Ethnobiology (2008) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB). Permissions were verbally informed by all vendors in this study. The human subject approval was obtained from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Minzu University of China, prior to beginning the work.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher’s Note

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Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
College of Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, 210095, China
(2)
Ecological Institute, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, 212013, China
(3)
Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, 650201, China
(4)
College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Minzu University of China, Beijing, 100081, China

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