Coptis, Huáng Lián, 黄连, Rhizoma Coptidis

Disclaimer    For educational purposes only.  Do not use as medical advice

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Health Benefits
For: Tenesmus • Gastroenteritis • Diarrhea • Vomiting • Carcinoma • Diabetes • Osteomylitis • Abdominal pain • Indigestion • Hypertension • Pulmonary tuberculosis
Attributes: Antibiotic • Antiulcer • Stimulant • Digestive • Anti-inflammatory • Hypotensive • AntipyreticCholagogic
Products (online examples)

Dried Herb


Dried Herb

Dried Herb

Dried Herb

Dried Herb



Research (sample)


Berberine • Palmatine • Coptisine • Obacunone • Worenine • Columbamine • Ferulic acid • Obaculactone

Photos (Click to enlarge)
Fun Facts
Other Names: Gold Thread • Coptis Trifolia • Coptitis • Mouth Root • Vegetable Gold • Chuan Lian • Wei Lian • Ya Lian • Ji Zhua Lian
Plant Family: Ranunculaceae
A key constituent of Coptis is berberine.  Experiments have shown berberine to be very effective against hyperglycemia/ type 2 diabetes.  
Coptis chinensis is a valuable herb where the roots are widely used in Chinese medicine.  The dried rhizomes come from the following species:

Coptis chinensis • Coptis trifolia Salisb • Coptis deltoidea • Coptis japonica • Coptis teetoides

Coptis chinensis is not in the USDA Plant Database.  However, a substitute, Coptis Trifolia Salisb, is available. Drill down via USDA Interactive Map:

USA: Coptis chinensis is not available in the wild.    USDA Zones: 5-9

Native: China

Habitats: Forests, shaded valleys, damp woody areas

Properties, Actions, Indications, etc.              Category: Clear Heat Dry Dampness 
English: Coptis    Pinyin:  Huang Lian      Pharmaceutical: Rhizoma Coptidis  
Organs: Heart • Bitter • Liver • Stomach • Large Intestine     Temperature: Cold   
Taste: Bitter  Toxicity: 1 case of anaphylactic shock from the injection of berberine 
Patterns: Stomach damp heat • Intestine damp heat • Damp heat jaundice 
Actions:  Clear heat • Drain fire • Dry dampness • Clear vexation • Detoxify • Clear damp heat
Indications: Diarrhea • Vomiting • Dysentery disorders
Contraindications: Allergic reaction to berberine • Buttercup flower allergies • Long term use can damage spleen or stomach • Spleen deficiency cold • Stomach deficiency cold
Typical Dosage: 3g to 10g          Guidelines
Parts Used: Root  
Combine With Purpose
Huang Bai + Qin Pi + Bai Tou Wen (Bai  Tou Weng Tang) Diarrhea to the point of anus painful burning [18],[21]
Mu Xiang + Bing Lang (Shao  Yao Tang) Diarrhea with tenesmus [18],[21]
Ge Gen (Ge  Gen Huang Qin Huang  Lian Tang) Diarrhea incontinence [18],[21]
Garlic Blood in diarrhea [18]
Gan Jiang + Ban Xia (Ban  Xia Xie Xin Tang) Chest tightness, nausea, vomiting[18],[21]
Wu Zhu Yu + Xiang Fu + Yan Hu Suo Ulcers, gastric pain[18]
Hai Piao Xiao + Zhe Bei Mu Acid regurgitation[18]
Bai Ji + Wu Bei Zi Blood in peptic ulcers[18]
Ban Xia + Gua Lou shi (Xiao  Xian Xiong Tang) Heart burn[18],[21]
Xi Xin + Zhi Zi Tongue ulcers[18]
Sheng Di Huang + Sheng Ma + Bai Zhi (Qing  Wei San) Stomach fire toothache[18],[21]
Shi Gao + Tian Hua Fen + Zhi Mu Diabetes / Xiao Ke syndrome[18]
Wu Zhu Yu + Chai Hu + Bai Shao Liver fire[18]
Shi Jue Ming + Jue Ming Zi + Long Dan Cao + Mu Zei + Ye Ming Sha Liver yang rising blood shot eyes[18]
Zhu Sha + Sheng Di Huang Insomnia[18]
Zhi Zi + Huang Qin (Huang  Lian Jie Du Tang) Aversion to heat from excess heat[18],[21]
Huang Qin + da Huang + Lian Qiao (Huang  Lian Jie Du Tang) Burns, swelling, abcesses[18]
Wu Zhu Yu (Zuo Jin Wan) Liver fire, stomach heat: Epigastric pain, acid regurgitation[21]
Xi Xin + Shi Gao Toothache, tongue ulcers, gingivitis[21]
Sheng Di Huang + Tian Hua Fen Acute stomach fire: extreme thirst and hunger[21]
Zju Ri Stomach heat vomiting[21]
E Jiao + Bai Shao (Huang  Lian E Jiao Tang) Heart fire, blood yin deficiency: Insomnia[21]
Dui Yao Pairs Purpose
Huang Lian + Huang Qin   Clear heat, dampness, and toxins from upper, middle and lower burners: conjunctivitis, toothache with gingivitis, oral ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, bloody vomit, nosebleed.   [15]
Huang Lian + Mu Xiang (Xiang Lian Wan) Clear heat, dampness, and dysentery: diarrhea, tenesmus, abdominal pain  [15],[21]
Huang Lian + Rou Gui Harmonize yin and yang, connect heart and kidney: insominia, tongue inflammation, oral ulcers [15],[21]
Huang Lian + Wu Zhu Yu Clear damp heat and liver fire.  For acid regurgitation, belching, nausea, abdominal pain and distention, and bitter taste in mouth [15],[21]
Huang Lian + Zi Su Middle burner or stomach heat.  Nausea and vomiting [15],[21]
Formulas with Huang Lian
An Gong Niu Huang Wan • Bai Tou Weng Tang • Ban Xia Xie Xin TangDa Huang Huang Lian Xie Xin Tang • Dang Gui Liu Huang Tang • Dong Gui Long Hui Wan • Fei Er Wan • Fu Zi Xie Xin Tang • Gan Cao Xie Xin Tang • Ge Gen Huang Lian Huang Qin Tang • Ge Gen Qin Lian Tang • Huang Lian e Jiao TangHuang Lian Jie Du TangHuang Lian Tang • Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang • Jian Pi Wan • Lian Po Yin • Mu Xiang Bing Lang Wan • Pu Ji Xiao Du Yin • Qing Shu Yi Qi Tang • Qing Wei San • Qing Wen Bai Du Yin • Qing Ying Tang • Shao Yao Tang • Sheng Jiang Xie Xin Tang • Shu Gan Tang • Shi Gao Tang • Wu Mei Wan • Xiao Xian Xiong Tang • Xie Xin Tang • Zhi Shi Xiao Pi Wan • Zhong Man Fen Xiao Wan • Zhu Sha An Shen Wan • Zuo Jin Wan
Variations for Rou Gui

Fried Salt-water cured Coptis (Yan Shui Chao Huang Lian) - Less dry, clear fire in lower burner to protect kidney fluids

Stir Fried Coptis (Chao Huang Lian) - Less cold.  Cools blood and mitigate toxins

Stir Fried Coptis soaked by Rice Wine (Jiu Huang Lian) - Cool pathogenic fire; swelling and pain in the yes or ears

Stir Fried Coptis soaked by Evodia juice (Yu Huang Lian) - Remove damp heat.  Acid regurgitation, nausea, gas, belching.

Baked or fried Coptis soaked by Ginger juice  (Jian Huang Lian) - Cools stomach fire, pushes rebellious Qi downward, and reduce nausea

Charred Coptis (Huang Lian Tan) - Blood heat; hemorrhage, blood laced stool, cools blood, stop bleeding.

Be cautions with all medicine.
  • Be cautious of daisy or berberine allergies.

Potential Side Effects: Allergic reaction • dizziness • Diarrhea • Vomiting • Headaches • Tinnitus • Shortness of breath

Potential Drug Interactions

Herbal medicine may interact negatively with pharma drugs and other herbs.  Examples below:


Pharma Drugs:


Information in this post came from many sources, including class notes, practitioners, websites, webinars, books, magazines, and editor's personal experience.  While the original source often came from historical Chinese texts,  variations may result from the numerous English translations.   Always consult a doctor prior to using these drugs.  The information here is strictly for educational purposes. 

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