Duhuo Jisheng Wan (DJW)

What is it?

Duhuo Jisheng Wan is a Chinese herbal medicine. The compound seems to activate specific anti-inflammatory cells in the body. The only RCT testing Duhuo Jisheng Wan for osteoarthritis suggests that it has an effect equal to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but more evidence is needed before a conclusion can be reached on effectiveness. There’s concern about safety of one of the herbs commonly included in this compound.

  • Family: Traditional Chinese herbal medicine
  • Scientific name: Duhuo Jisheng Wan
  • Other names: Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, Du Huo Ji Shang, Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan, Duhuojishengwan, Guang Ci Tang, Plum Flower

Duhuo Jisheng Wan is a medicinal formula made up of at least seven Chinese herbs, including Radix angelicae pubescentis and Herba taxilli. You can buy tablets over the internet under different brand names (Guang Ci Tang, Plum Flower, Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan herbal pills) from UK-based suppliers.

How does it work?

According to traditional theories, Duhuo Jisheng Wan can relieve pain by ‘expelling wind, clearing dampness and removing obstruction in Qi (energy)’. The ways it works haven’t been well examined, but some laboratory studies have shown that Duhuo Jisheng Wan can clear inflammation by activating specific anti-inflammatory cells in your body.

Is it safe?

Duhuo Jisheng Wan normally contains a Chinese herb called xi xin (Asarum species). This herb has been banned in many countries. This is because Asarum species are known to contain aristolochic acids. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified herbal products which include the Aristolochia plant (which contain a high level of of aristolochic acid) as carcinogenic (causes cancer) to humans. They’ve also been linked to kidney damage.

Reported side-effects also include:

  • raised blood pressure
  • dizziness and drowsiness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea and constipation.

No data about interactions with other medications is available.

One study used 3 g of Duhuo Jisheng Wan, three times a day.

Duhuo Jisheng Wan trials for osteoarthritis

In this trial, 200 participants with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly given daily doses of one of the following:

  • 75 mg diclofenac tablets
  • 9 g Duhuo Jisheng Wan tablets
  • placebo tablets identical to the diclofenac
  • placebo tablets identical to the Duhuo Jisheng Wan.

The groups were compared with respect to side-effects and effectiveness over a four-week period.

  • Compared to the corresponding placebo groups, participants who received either Duhuo Jisheng Wan or diclofenac had significantly lower scores for pain and stiffness.
  • Compared to diclofenac, the beneficial effects of Duhuo Jisheng Wan were slower to develop.
  • Around 30% of participants in both groups receiving diclofenac and Duhuo Jisheng Wan reported side-effects; however, both groups also reported significantly more side-effects than the placebo groups.