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Family Liliaceae / Smilacaceae
Smilax china Linn.

Ba qia

Scientific names Common names
Coprosmanthus japonicus Kunth Buanal (Ig.)
Smilax china L. Palipit (Bon.)
Smilax japonica (Kunth) A.Gray Sarsaparillang-china (Tag.)
Smilax pteropus Miq. China root (Engl.)
Smilax taiheiensis Hayata Chinese sarsaparilla (Engl.)
Smilax taquetii H.Lév Chinese smilax (Engl.)
Smilax thomsoniana A.DC. Wild smilax (Engl.)
Smilax china L. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Jin gang teng, Jing gong dou, Ba qia.
FRENCH: Racine de Chine, Squine.
GERMAN: Chinawurzel.
HINDI: Chobchini.
INDONESIA: Gadung cina, Peudang, Ghadhung tambha.
MALAYSIA: Gadong china, Gadong saberang, Akar restong.
SPANISH: Zarzaparilla De China.
VIETNAM: Kim chang trung qu[oos]e.

Sarsaparillang-china is a woody vine armed with small thorns all over the stem. Rhizomes are long, thick and grey colored. Leaves are simple, alternate, elliptically oblong to subrounded, 5 to 8 centimeters long, 2.5 to 4 centimeters wide; those toward the end of the branches are much smaller and veined. Petioles are about 7 millimeters long, with adnate spiculate stipules which frequently are extended into tendrils. Inflorescence arises from the upper leaf axils, 3 to 5 centimeters long. Flowers are white to yellowish-green, their pedicels subtended by bracteoles, umbellate. Berries are globose, reddish when ripe.

- In mossy forests at altitudes of 1,600 to 2,400 meters in Bontoc, Lepanto, Benguet, and Zambales Provinces in Luzon, and in Mindanao and Negros.
- Occurs in Japan and China, where is it indigenous.

- Phytochemical screening of methanol extract yielded flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, saponins, and glycosides.
- Root contains fat, sugar, glucoside, coloring matter, gum and starch.
- Root also yields smilacin, tannin, resin, cinchonin and saponin.

- Dried rhizomes yield fat, sugar, glycoside, glycoside, coloring matter, saponin, tannin, cinchonin. smilacin, and starch.
- Leaves reported to contain rutin.
- Ethyl acetate fraction of an ethanol extract of rhizomes yielded seven compounds, structure of three were established as dihydrokaempferol-5-O-beta-D-glucoside (1), beta-sitosterol (2), and daucosterol (3). (12)
- Study of leaves yielded two new flavonoids, bismilachinone and smilachinin, together with 14 known compounds. (see study below) (23)
- Study of rhizomes yielded 13 compounds and identified as kaemperol-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside (1), engeletin (2), isoengeletin (3), kaempferol (4), dihydrokaempferol (5), dihydrokaempferol-5-O-P-D-glucopyranoside (6), rutin (7), kaempferol- 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside (8), 3, 5, 4'-trihydroxystibene (9), vanillic acid (10), 3, 5-dimethoxy4-O-beta-D-glu-copyranosylcinnamic acid (11), beta-sitosterol (12), and beta-daucosterol (13). (27)

- Depurative, demulcent, diaphoretic, stimulant, alterative, antisyphilitic, aphrodisiac.
- Studies have described antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and neuroprotective effects.

Parts used
Roots, leaves and rhizomes.


- Roots, cooked.
- Young shoots and leaves, raw or cooked.
- Used as potherb.
- Tea made from leaves.
- Fruit eaten raw.
- In the Philippines, decoction of roots and rhizomes used as depurative in cases of herpetism and syphilis.
- In India, used to some extent like sarsaparilla, in decoction as a depurative, diaphoretic, stimulant, alterative, antisyphilitic, and aphrodisiac.
- Sudorific and demulcent, used in rheumatism.
- Used as alterative in old syphilitic cases and in chronic rheumatism.
- In large doses, causes nausea and vomiting.
- Used for various skin diseases.
- In Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medical systems, used for syphilis, skin diseases, epilepsy, insanity, flatulence, dyspepsia, constipation, fever, neuralgia, rheumatism, gout and general debility. Smilax china is the accepted botanical source of the Ayurvedic drug Chopachinee.
- In traditional Chinese medicine, used as diuretic and for treatment of rheumatic arthritic conditions; also used for detoxification, treatment of gout, tumors, and lumbago.
- in Korea used as a remedy for inflammatory disease and ischuria.
- Inhalation from sarsaparilla roots used in asthma.

Anti-Inflammatory / Antinociceptive / COX Inhibition:
Study in rats of aqueous extract of tubers of Smilax china showed anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects. Results showed inhibition of both COX-2 activity and COX expression. (2)
Chemical Constituents: Study of rhizomes isolated 13 compounds: kaemperol-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, engeletin, isoengeletin, kaempferol, dihydrokaempferol, dihydrokaempferol-5-O-P-D-glucopyranoside, rutin, kaempferol- 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 3, 5, 4'-trihydroxystibene, vanillic acid, 3, 5-dimethoxy4-O-beta-D-glu-copyranosylcinnamic acid, beta-sitosterol, and beta-daucosterol. (3)
Nephroprotective / Anti-Hyperuricemic: An ethyl acetate fraction exhibited strong anti-hyperuricemic activity. Caffeic acid, resveratrol, rutin and oxyresveratrol isolated from the EAF showed different inhibitory effects on xanthine oxidase in vitro. The EAF also prevented renal damage against tubulointerstitial pathologies in hyperuricemic rats. (4)
Anticonvulsant: Results of study of ethanolic extract and ethyl acetate fraction of the rhizome of SC in mice showed it may help control petit mal and grand mal seizures. (5)
Sieboldogenin / Anti-Inflammatory: Study isolated seiboldogenin from ethyl acetate fraction of the plant crude extract. Seiboldogenin showed significant lipoxygenase inhibition and significant inhibition of carrageenan-induced hind paw edema and presents as a potential new anti-inflammatory compound. (6)
Stilbenes / Antioxidant: Study isolated 3 compounds: resveratrol, oxyresveratrol, and 3, 5, 3′ , 4′ - tetrahydroxylstilbene. The compounds showed strong antioxidant activity and effective scavenging of DPPH free radicals. (7)
Circulatory Benefits / Coagulation Effects: Study results conclude S china has a pharmacologic benefits on promoting circulation which may be from inhibition of platelet aggregation and prolongation of clotting time. (8)
Flavonoid Glycoside / Anticancer: Study of eight crude extracts of Smilax china showed a fraction rich in flavonoids to show good activity against HeLa cells. Study isolated kaempferol-7-O-ß-D-glucoside, a flavonoid glycoside, and exhibited marked anticancer activity. The antiproliferative effect may be due to cell cycle arrest at G1 phase and induction of apoptosis. (9)
Anti-Diabetic: Study of various extracts of roots were evaluated for hypoglycemic activity in alloxan-induced diabetic Wistar rats. Alcoholic and aqueous extracts showed significant blood glucose reduction. A petroleum extract exhibited very weak anti-diabetic activity. (13)
Antioxidant / Antimicrobial: Various leaf extracts were evaluated for antioxidant and antimicrobial activities. The ethanol extract showed the highest DPPH, ABTS radical scavenging activity, and reducing power. All extracts inhibited the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, S. aureus, and Salmonella typhimurium. Results suggest potential use in the food and cosmetic industry. (14)
Antioxidant / Phenolic Composition: Various extracts were tested for radical scavenging and antioxidant activities. The ethyl acetate fractions showed the highest antioxidant activity, correlating with the high phenolic levels, particularly catechin and epicatechin. (15)
Anti-Diabetic / Rhizomes: In a study of various extracts in rats with allloxan-induced diabetes, the hydroalcoholic and aqueous fractions exhibited anti-diabetic activity. (16)
Antihyperglycemic / Antihyperlipidemic: Study of a hydroethanolic extract of Smilax china in alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed pretreatment for 30 days reverted the biochemical parameters almost to normal. (18)
Testicular Antioxidant Activity / Spermatogenesis Benefits: Rats subjected to forced swimming stress showed increase lipid peroxidation and decrease in testicular SOD, catalase, sperm count, viability and motility. Results showed pretreatment of rats with rhizome ethanol extracts showed good protection against testicular antioxidant activity and improved spermatological parameters. (17)
Antihepatotoxic / Roots: Study evaluated an methanolic extract of roots against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in albino rats. Results showed a dose-related protective action against CCl4-induced liver damage with significant effect on serum enzyme levels and morphological parameters supported by histopathological changes. The hepatoprotection was attributed the flavonoid content. (19)
Effects on Nicotine-Induced Endothelial Dysfunction: Study investigated the effects of 10 compounds isolated from a 70% EtOH extract of Smilax china on nicotine-induced endothelial dysfunction in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Kaempferol, kaempferol 7-O-a-L-rhamnopyranoside, puerarin and ferulic acid showed strong inhibition of vascular cell adhesion molecule expression, while kaempferol, kaempferin and caffeic acid attenuated intercellular adhesion molecule expression. There was also up-regulated expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and inhibitory effects on inducible NO synthase (iNOS) expression, inhibition of IL-8 and IL-1ß. Results showed the potential of the isolated compounds in reversing the toxic effect of nicotine on the endothelium. (21)
Antiobesity Effects: Study investigated the lipolytic actions of a water soluble fraction of Smilax china leaf ethanol extract in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Results showed potential antiobesity activity, which may be due, at least in part, to stimulation of cAMP-PKA-HSL signaling. The wsSCLE-stimulated lipolysis induced by signaling is mediated by activation of ß-adrenergic receptor. (22)
Anti-Diabetic / PTP1B, α-Glucosidase and DPP-IV Inhibitory Effects: Study of leaves isolated two new flavonoids, bismilachinone and smilachinin, together with 14 known compounds, from the leaves of Smilax china. Compounds 4, 7, and 10 showed moderate DPP-IV inhibitory activities, while compounds 3, 4, 6, 11, 12, and 16 showed strong PTP1B inhibitory activities. Compounds 2-7, 11, 12, 15, and 16 showed α-glucosidase inhibitory activities. Results show the leaves of Smilax china may contain antidiabetic compounds. (23)
Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells / Rhizomes: Study investigated the effects of rhizome extract of SC on ovarian cancer cells A2780. The rhizome extract suppressed A2780 cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner (p<0.05, p<0.01), arrested cells in G2/M phase and induced apoptosis by activating cspse-3, PARP and Bax. SC rhizome extract effectively inhibited NF-kB, induced apoptosis, and reduced chemoresistance to cisplatin and adriamycin in ovarian cancer cells, which may be the molecular basis for the treatment of ovarian cancer. (24)
Herb/Drug Interactions: (1) Interacts with digoxin (Lanoxin) increasing the absorption of digoxin. (2) Sarsaparilla might also decrease the elimination of lithium from the body. (25)
Hypoglycemic / Hypolipidemic: Study evaluated the anti-diabetic effects of methanol extracts of Smilax chinensis in alloxan-induced diabetes rats. Results showed significant reduction of blood glucose (p<0.01) in a time-dependent manner. Extract treated groups also showed significant reduction (p<0.01) in serum levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides. (26)

- Wild-crafted.
- Herbs, capsules, tablets, and tinctures in the cybermarkets.

Last update August 2016

IMAGE SOURCE: Smilax china - China root /File:Sarutoriibara 08b2110.jpg / ISAKA Yoji (CORY) / 5.23.2008 / GNU Free Documentation License / Wikimedia Commons
IMAGE SOURCE: Smilax china fruits in Yōrō Mountains / File:Smilax china fruits.JPG / Alpsdake / 19 Dec 2007 / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Liliaceae - Smilax china / Medical botany by William Woodville / London, James Phillips, 1794 [-1795], 1. edition, supplement, plate 236. Hand-coloured engraving (sheet 174 x 227 mm / illustrated with excellent plates drawn and engraved by James Sowerby (Henrey) / MEEMELINK

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Smilax china / Plants For A Future
Anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive activities of Smilax china L. aqueous extract / Xiao-Shun Shu, , Zhong-Hong Gao and Xiang-Liang Yang / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 103, Issue 3, 20 February 2006, Pages 327-332 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.08.004
Studies on chemical constituents of rhizomes of Smilax china
/ Yan Xu, Jing-Yu Liang, Zhong-Mei Zou / China journal of Chinese materia medica (2008), Volume: 33, Issue: 21, Pages: 2497-2499 / PubMed ID: 19149257
Anti-hyperuricemic and nephroprotective effects of Smilax china L. / Lvyi Chen, Huafeng Yin, Zhou Lan et al /
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 135, Issue 2, 17 May 2011, Pages 399-405 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.03.033
Anticonvulsant and neurotoxicity profile of rhizome of Smilax china Linn. in mice / A Vijayalakshmi, V Ravichandiran et al / Indian Journ of Pharmacology, Feb 2011, Vol 43, No 1, pp 27-30
Anti-inflammatory activities of Sieboldogenin from Smilax china Linn.: Experimental and computational studies / Inamullah Khan, Muhammad Nisar et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 121, Issue 1, 12 January 2009, Pages 175-177 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.10.009
Study on Antioxidant Stilbenes from the Rhizomes of Smilax china / ZHAO Zhongxiang, JIN Jing, ZHU Chenchen, ZHANG Cuixian et al / Traditional Chinese Drug Research & Clinical Pharmacology, 2008-02 / DOI: CNKI:SUN:ZYXY.0.2008-02-016
Study on the pharmacological action of Smilax China L on promoting blood circulation / Liu Yong Ning, Chen Dong Sheng and Xu Chu Hong / Chinese Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 2002-09 / DOI: CNKI:SUN:ZGYZ.0.2002-09-011
A flavonoid glycoside isolated from Smilax china L. rhizome in vitro anticancer effects on human cancer cell lines / Yuan-Li Li, Guo-Ping Gan et al /
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 113, Issue 1, 15 August 2007, Pages 115-124 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.05.016
Smilax china L. / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Smilax china / Common names / GLOBinMED
Studies on chemical constituents of Smilax china / Ruan J, Zou J, Cai Y. / Zhong Yao Cai. 2005 Jan;28(1):24-6.
Antidiabetic activity of Smilax china roots in alloxan-induced diabetic rats / B.G. Solomon Raju, B.Ganga Rao,Y.B. Manju Latha / Pharma Tech, Vol 4, No 1, pp 369-374, Jan-Mar 2012.
Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Smilax china L. leaf extracts
/ Hye-Kyung Seo, Jong-Hwa Lee, Hyun-Su Kim, Chang-Kwon Lee, Seung-Cheol Lee / Food Science and Biotechnology, December 2012, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1723-1727
PHENOLIC COMPOSITION AND IN VITRO ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITIES OF SMILAX CHINA ROOT / CHANG-HO JEONG, HEE ROK JEONG, JI HYUN KWAK, JI HYE KIM, GWI NAM CHOI, DAE-OK KIM, UK LEE, HO JIN HEO* / Journal of Food Biochemistry, Volume 37, Issue 1, pages 98–107, February 2013 / DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-4514.2011.00610.x
Pharmacognostical standardization, extraction and anti- diabetic activity of Smilax china L. rhizome / Rajesh Bhati a, Anupama Singh, Vikas Anand Saharan , Veerma Ram, Anil Bhandari / Asian Journal of Traditional Medicines, 2011, 6 (5)
Effect of Smilax china Linn. on Testicular Antioxidant Activity and Spermatological Parameters in Rats Subjected to Forced Swimming Stress
/ C D Saraswathi, M V Suresh, Satyanarayan Sreemantula, K Venkata Krishna / International Research Journal of Pharmacy,2012, 3(11).
/ U. SARASWATHI AND N.R. NITHYA / Asian Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology & Environmental Sciences Paper, Vol.12, Issue 1, 2010; Page No.(49-53)
Antihepatotoxic Activity of Smilax china Roots on CCl4-induced Hepatic Damage in Rats
/ B G Solomon Raju, Ganga Rao Battu, Manju Latha, R Srinivas / Int J Pharm Pharm Sci Vol 4, Issue 1, 494-496
Smilax china / Synonyms / The Plant List
Effects of Constituent Compounds of Smilax china on Nicotine-Induced Endothelial Dysfunction in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells. / Lincha VR, Zhao BT, Woo MH, Yang IJ, Shin HM. / Biol Pharm Bull. 2016;39(6):984-92. doi: 10.1248/bpb.b15-00997.
Antiobesity effects of the water-soluble fraction of the ethanol extract of Smilax china L. leaf in 3T3-L1 adipocytes / Kang YH, Kim KK, Kim DJ, Choe M / Nutr Res Pract. 2015 Dec;9(6):606-12. / doi: 10.4162/nrp.2015.9.6.606. Epub 2015 Sep 25.
PTP1B, α-glucosidase, and DPP-IV inhibitory effects for chromene derivatives from the leaves of Smilax china L./ Zhao BT, Le DD1, Nguyen PH2, Ali MY3, Choi JS3, Min BS1, Shin HM4, Rhee HI5, Woo MH / Chem Biol Interact. 2016 Jun 25;253:27-37 / doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2016.04.012
Smilax china L. rhizome extract inhibits nuclear factor-κB and induces apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells. /
Hu LL, Chen DS, Wang YY, Qin Y, Huang P, Yu LX, Liao J, Hua XL / Chin J Integr Med. 2015 Dec; 21 (12): 907-15 / doi: 10.1007/s11655-014-1788-9
Sarsaparilla / Interactions / WebMD
Studies on chemical constituents of rhizomes of Smilax china / Xu Y, Liang JY, Zou ZM / Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi: China journal of Chinese materia medica 33:21 2008 Nov pg 2497-9

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