Oxytropis falcate


All Essential Benefits/Effects/Facts & Information

Oxytropus Falcate is a fairly odd herb, with a large degree of renown in Tibetan medicine (where it is referred to as the King of Herbs) yet highly underresearched; its composition appeared to be well characterized, although not quantified, but currently there is a single rat study assessing topical pain-killing and anti-inflammatory effects and no human studies.

Not much can be said about this herb right now.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Not enough evidence currently exists to recommend dosages for human usage

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Editors' Thoughts on Oxytropis falcate

I forsee great things for this herb in the future (based on the wide variety of bioactives, the preliminary analgesic properties, and how the other two 'Kings' Ganoderma lucidum and Ashawgandha turned out pretty damn nice), but for now I am just concerned that Oxytropis Falcate is going to be added to stimulants because of its 'Phenyethylamine' content (which has not been quantified) and pull some Dendrobium crap where the herb may merely be masking unlabeled synthestic stimulants.

Despite the promise associated with it, there is currently not sufficient evidence to support its usage for anything unfortunately. I mean, it still seems to be a point of debate as to whether this medicinal herb confers toxic effects or not.

Kurtis Frank

1Sources and Composition

1.1. Sources

Oxytropis falcate (of the family Leguminosae) is a herb used in Traditional Chinese Medicine where it has the name 'Edaxia' and used to treat inflammation, influenza, pain, bleeding and anthrax. It has been used in Tibetan medicine, where it is called “King of Herbs” and one of the “Three Anti-inflammatory Drug”.[1][2] It commonly grows in high altitudes (2700–4300m above sea level) in North Eastern and Southern Western China and due to this tends to grow mostly in either the Himilayas or at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.[3] Traditional usage of Oxytropis Falcate, usually in Tibet, suggests that spraying the dried powder of the roots over wounds accelerates healing and provides pain relief.[3]

The term 'Locoweed' is used to refer to plants of the Oxytropis family (although some plants of the Astragalus family also get included[4] and sometimes Swainsonia also gets called Locoweed[5]). These three genera all get called Locoweed due to having similar social renown, since the bioactive Swainsonine that is found in all genera (not yet identified in the species of Oxytropus known as Falcate but is present in ochrocephala[4]) can inhibit lysosomal α-mannosidase and mannosidase II enzymes and kill livestock that forage on 'Locoweeds'.[6][7][8]

Some studies also refer to similar historical usage when referring to an Oxytropus Falcata, suggesting the two species names are used interchangeably.[1]

A highly acclaimed herb for Tibetan medicine (King of Tibetan Medicine like Ganoderma lucidum is to Chinese and Ashawgandha is to Indian). A species in the Oxytropus genera appears to be highly toxic to livestock that graze upon it

1.2. Composition

Oxytropis contains:

  • Oxytropine A-C (actually all structurally different)[4] and Oxytrofalcatin A-F (structurally related N-benzoylindole analogues)[4][5]

  • Falcatins A and B, two triterpenes[9] and two 'rare' sequesterpenes 3-methyl-5-(2,2,4-trimethylcyclohexanol-3-yl)pent-1-ene-3-ol and 3-methyl-5-(1,3,3-trimethyl-7-oxabicyclo{2.2.1}hept-2-yl)pent-1-en-3-ol[9]

  • 2′,4′-Dihydroxychalcone (DHC) is sometimes seen as the main active ingredient (despite not being named after the herb),[2] and 2′,4′,β-trihydroxy-dihydrochalcone is also found in this plant[3] as well as other chalcone structures[3][10]

  • N-Benzoyl-β-phenylethylamine[11] and (-)-N-Benzoyl-2-hydroxy-2-phenylethylamine[4][12]

  • N-formylbenzamide, 4-hydroxybenzamide, and N-formyl-p-hydroxybenzamide[5]

  • Rhamnetin, Rhamnocitrin,[1][3] and the latter's 3-O-beta-neohesperidoside.[11] Rhamnocitrin has also been found to be bound to 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutarate group on its glycoside, and this compound (rhamnocitrin-3-O-{(S)-3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-(1→3)}-{α-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1→2)}-β-d-galactopyranoside) is referred to as Oxytroflavoside B.[1] Oxytropisoflavans A and B have been reported, and are structually different than the aforementioned[13]

  • Kaempferol (and many glycosides such as Robinin, Astrasikokioside I, and Mauritianin),[1][3]Quercetin, and Apigenin[4]

  • (6aR,11aR)-3,8-dihydroxy-9,10-dimethoxypterocarpan, propterol B, (3R)-(−)-isomucronulatol, and mucronulatol[13]

  • Chrysin[4], Genistin (the glycoside of one of the two Soy Isoflavones)[4] and Daidzein (the other one)[13]

  • Melilotigenin B and C, initially from Melilotus officinalis and 24-hydroxy-11-deoxoglabrolide[9]

  • Pinocembrin,[11] Pinostrobin, and Liquirtigenin (an active component of Licorice)[4]

  • Naringenin,[14] Formononectin,[13][4] and Luteolin[4]

  • Dalbergin, (-)-Maackiain,[11] Sparteine, Lupanine, Thermopsine, and Anagyrine[4]

  • Pendulone, calycosin, 2'-hydroxybiochanin A, Pseudobaptigenin, Astraciceran, and (S)-(–)-Sakuranetin[13]

  • 3',4',5,7-4-hydroxy-flavanone[14]

  • 5,6-dihydroxy-3,7,3',4'-tetramethoxyflavonol and 5,6-dihydroxy-3,7,4'-trimethoxyflavonol[14]

  • β-sitosterol, Daucosterol, Stigmasterol, 7a-hydroxysitosterol, and 7-oxositosterol[14][15]

A cluster of standard flavanoid compounds with some unique ones (really, there is an astonishing variety of flavanoids here that need to be quantified), some structurally unique chalcone structures which are thought to be the active ingredients, and a confirmed phenethylamine content

Anti-oxidant properties in this plant appear to be mostly via the flavonoids, as the chalcones are weak in a DPPH assay.[3]

A very weird collection of interesting looking structures to be honest, even Oxytropine C appears to be structurally related to catecholamines (if broken to the top right of the left benzene ring)


2.1. Transdermal

When topically applied (Oxytropis Falcate ethanolic extract in 2% aqueous sodium hydroxide with a 5.5mg/kg application of DHC), the active ingredient of 2',4'-Dihydroxychalcone (DHC) appeared to be relatively quickly absorbed with a Cmax at 24.87+/-3.85ng/mL reaching a Tmax of 70.59+/-23.66 minutes.[2] This study noted a half-life of 155.06+/-23.58 minutes (similar to injections) and an AUC of 7196.8621+/-792.31ng/h/mL.[2] The absolute bioavailability of DHC via transdermal means appeared to be 16.93%[2] and may be enhanced three-fold if given via an ointment rather than solution.[16]

3Inflammation and Immunology

3.1. Analgesia

Topical application of Oxytropis Falcate is able to dose-dependently reduce the perception of pain in mice (assessed by acetic acid induced writhing) in a dose dependent manner reaching 56.67% at a topical dose of 90.6mg/kg Oxytropis (5.5mg/kg DHC), which outperformed the active control of Diclofenac emulgel (34.75%).[2] This pain reduction was noted in a hot-plate test, where dose-dependence was noted and the highest dose outperformed the active control at 30, 60, and 90 minutes of assessment.[2]

Appeared to be a fairly potent pain-killer according to the one study conducted on it

3.2. Edema

A study where edema was induced with topical xylene noted that pretreatment for 5 days with topical Oxytropis falcate was able to reduce edema in a dose-dependent manner from 4.16-66.03%, with the highest dose (90.6mg/kg Oxytropis conferring 5.5mg/kg DHC) outperforming the active control of Diclofenac emulgel at 39.48%.[2]

3.3. Interventions

In a mouse model of arthritis (complete Freund's adjuvant injections), topical administration of Oxytropis falcate (5.7-90.6mg/kg) was able to attenuate joint inflammation in a dose-dependent manner.[2]

Possible anti-inflammatory effects following topical administration

Scientific Support & Reference Citations


  1. Wang SS, et al 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl flavonol glycosides from Oxytropis falcata . J Nat Prod. (2012)
  2. Chen ZP, et al The studies of anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities and pharmacokinetics of Oxytropis falcate Bunge extraction after transdermal administration in rats . Fitoterapia. (2011)
  3. Jiang H, et al Antioxidant activities of extracts and flavonoid compounds from Oxytropis falcate Bunge . Nat Prod Res. (2008)
  4. Phytochemical and Biological Studies of plants from the Genus Oxytropis
  5. Chen WH, et al Oxytrofalcatins A-F, N-benzoylindole analogues from the roots of Oxytropis falcata (Leguminosae) . Phytochemistry. (2010)
  6. Stegelmeier BL, et al The lesions of locoweed (Astragalus mollissimus), swainsonine, and castanospermine in rats . Vet Pathol. (1995)
  7. Inhibition of lysosomal alpha-mannosidase by swainsonine, an indolizidine alkaloid isolated from Swainsona canescens
  8. James LF, et al Biomedical applications of poisonous plant research . J Agric Food Chem. (2004)
  9. Chen WH, Qi HY, Shi YP 24-Hydroxyoleanane-type triterpenes from the aerial parts and roots of Oxytropis falcata . J Nat Prod. (2009)
  10. Jiang H, et al Screening for fractions of Oxytropis falcata Bunge with antibacterial activity . Nat Prod Res. (2009)
  11. Yao SY, et al Chemical constituents of Oxytropis falcate . Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. (2008)
  12. Alkaloids of Oxytropis
  13. Chen WH, Wang R, Shi YP Flavonoids in the poisonous plant Oxytropis falcata . J Nat Prod. (2010)
  14. Study on Chemical Constituents of Oxytropis falcata Bunge
  15. Studies On Tibetan Medicinal Chemical Constituents Of Oxytropis Falcate Bunge
  16. Li WD, et al Study on the pharmacokinetics Oxytropis falcate total flavonoids ointment in rats . Zhong Yao Cai. (2011)