Herb: Da Ji

Latin name: Euphorbia pekinensis

Family: Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)

Medicinal use of Da Ji:

Da Ji is classified as a toxic herb in Chinese medicine and so is only prescribed for relatively serious diseases. It is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs and is used as a cathartic to purge excess fluids in conditions such as pleurisy and ascites and for the treatment of kidney problems, especially nephritis. Research has shown that it is therapeutically useful in the treatment of ascites and nephritis, but it does produce significant side-effects. It should only be used under the supervision of a qualified herbalist. The root is antibacterial, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, purgative and vasodilator. It is used in the treatment of oedema, fullness of the chest, sticky sputum, epilepsy, carbuncle and tubercle. When used in conjunction with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza species) the diuretic and purgative actions are inhibited. Another report says that the plant is incompatible with liquorice because it neutralizes their medicinal effects. Externally, it is applied to inflamed sores to reduce swelling.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Grassy places in lowland and mountains, C. and S. Japan.

Propagation of Da Ji:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of the herb:

Grassy places in lowland and mountains, C. and S. Japan.

Known hazards of Euphorbia pekinensis:

The sap contains a latex which is toxic on ingestion and highly irritant externally, causing photosensitive skin reactions and severe inflammation, especially on contact with eyes or open cuts. The toxicity can remain high even in dried plant material. Prolonged and regular contact with the sap is inadvisable because of its carcinogenic nature.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.