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Pseudostellaria heterophylla
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Apiales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Pseudostellaria
Species: P. heterophylla
Binomial name
"Pseudostellaria heterophylla"
Rupr. & Maxim.

Pseudostellaria heterophylla, also known as Hai Er Shen (Chinese: 孩兒參, Kid Ginseng), Tai Zi Shen (Chinese: 太子參, Prince Ginseng), false starwort, is an adaptogen in the Caryophyllaceae family that is used in Chinese medicine and herbalism to tonify the qi and generate yin fluids. It is known as the "ginseng of the lungs". The plant is a low growing caryophyllaceae that is grown in Southern China in the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Henan, Shaanxi, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hubei, and Shanxi. Botanically it is known as Pseudostellaria heterophylla (Miq.) Pax ex Pax et Hoffm.



Hai Er Shen is a relatively recent addition to the Chung Yao Chi New Chinese Materia Medica (Chinese: 中藥劑大辭典), having been officially added in 1959, based upon local and ethnic use. [1] [2]It is weaker than Panax ginseng. The herb is a mild adaptogen, demulcent, an immune tonic, nutritive, and a pectoral herb. In Chinese terms it tonifies the yin. Accordingly the herb is restorative for lung damage due to excess heat or dryness including hot or dry asthma, pleurisy, bronchitis, bacterial pneumonia, wheezing, dry cough, and emphysema. Scientific research shows that Pseudostellaria aids in protecting the mucin layer that lines the respiratory tract and functions as an immune defense system. In the form Li Gan Zi Shen Tang (Chinese: 理肝滋腎湯, Regulate the Liver & Enrich the Kidneys Decoction) it is used to treat yin deficiency in diabetes mellitus[3]The polysaccharide fractions have anti-tumor properties. [4] A lectin in the roots is being studied for anti HIV purposes.[5]


Major constituents include:

  • Arginine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Fructose
  • Inulin
  • Phosphatides
  • Polysaccharides:
  • PH-1A (antitumor activity)[6]
  • PH-1B (antitumor activity)
  • PH-1C (antitumor activity)
  • Pseudostellarin H (octapeptide)
  • Pseudostellarin D (heptopeptide)
  • Saponins
  • Trace elements of iron, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, cobalt, molybdenum etc.

[1] [7]

Botanical Description

  • Herbs, perennial.
  • Taproots absent, Root tubers white, slightly grayish yellow, long fusiform.
  • Stems Stem solitary, erect, (8--)15--20 cm tall, with 2 lines of hairs.
  • Leaves Proximal leaves usually 1 or 2 pairs, spatulate or oblanceolate; middle leaves lanceolate; distal leaves 2 or 3 pairs, decussate, approximate, broadly ovate, not succulent.
  • Inflorescences terminal.
  • Pedicels recurved to reflexed.
  • Flowers: perianth and androecium hypogynous; sepals 5, distinct; petals 5 [absent in cleistogamous flowers], white.
  • Capsules ovoid.
  • Seeds Seeds brown, compressed orbicular, marginal wing absent, appendage absent. [8] [9]

See also




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