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Gou Teng

English Name: gambir, uncaria vine

Literal Translation: “hook vine”

Pharmaceutical Name: Ramulus Uncariae cum Uncis

Medica Category: Liver-Calming and Wind-Extinguishing Herbs

Properties: Gou Teng enters the Liver and Pericaridum channels; it is sweet in nature and cool in temperature.

What is Gou Teng?:

The Chinese Herb Gou Teng comes from several species of flowering, tropical shrubs in the genus Uncaria (common name: Gambir– Uncaria rhynchophylla (Miq.); and several others used in various regions of China). Also known as “cat’s claw herb” or “fishhook vine”, its distinguishing feature is a recurved hook that grows out of the stem at intervals (which the plant uses to attach itself to a growing surface/anchor). These twig-like sections are collected from the vines in the spring and autumn and dried for use as medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Gou Teng:

Gou Teng sedates Liver fire, extinguishes internal wind, and alleviates spasms. It is considered an essential herb for this purpose and is used to address such clinical presentations as: convulsions (infantile and adult), clenching of the jaw, tremors, seizures, high fever, and eclampsia.

Gou Teng drains Liver heat and pacifies rising Liver yang patterns (i.e. anchors Liver yang) that may present clinically as headaches, irritability, red eyes, and dizziness. In China, this pattern is often the cause of hypertension, and Gou Teng is used (e.g. in the formula Tian Ma Gou Teng) to control high blood pressure.

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