Mondo grass

Last Updated: November 18 2022

Ophiopogon japonicus is an evergreen perennial used in traditional Chinese medicine mostly for the treatment of cardiovascular complications and inflammation.

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Sources and Composition



Ophiopogon japonicus (of the family lilaceae) is an evergreen perennial and Traditional chinese medicine mostly for the treatment of cardivascular complications and inflammation[1][2] in the form of the root, referred to as Radix ophiopogon.[2] It is said to have the functions to "moisturize dryness and promote the production of body fluid" and for the treatment of "Xiao Ke" symptom, being interpreted as the treatment of type II diabetes.[2]



  • Ruscogenin (named after its original source Butchers Broom)[3] and glycosides thereof such as Ophiopogonin D (0.000006% dry weight or higher[3]) and Spicatoside A[3]
  • Ruscogenin glycosides (at two separate locations on the ruscogenin molecule) Ophiopogonin F (glycoside[1]) and Ophiopogonin G (glycoside[1])
  • Ophiogenin[4]
  • Ophiopogonol[4] (sequesterpene) and its glycoside ophioside A[4]
  • Nolinospiroside F,[5][6] structurally different than the aforementioned but still a ruscogenin diglycoside
  • Homoisoflavone ophiopogonone E[7] and ophiopogonanone A, E, and H[8][9][10][7]
  • Methylophiopogonanone A and B[11][7]
  • Methylophiopogonone A[8][7]


The bioactives in this plant seem to either be the steriodal saponin known as Ruscogenin or glycosides based off of ruscogenin, although their concentrations appear to be much lower than the other known plant to contain them (ruscus aculeatus). The homoflavones also present in this plant may also play roles

There also appears to be a polysaccharide fragment associated with antidiabetic properties in plant roots[12][13] referred to as OJP1 (Ophiopogon japonicus polysaccharide 1[14]) which weights approximately 35.2kDa and is 98.5% carbohydrate; the carbohydrates being arabinose, glucose and galactose in a 1:16:8 ratio.[13][14]

Other polysaccharides include one known as MDG1 which is a water soluble β-d-fructan (also in the root) that is smaller at 3.4kDa and constitutes up to 4% of the plants roots by dry weight,[2] this polysaccharide has a backbone of β-D-fructofuranosyl molecules (Frufs) connected 2→1 with branches of β-D-fructofuranosyl (2→6) and trace amounts of α-d-Glc.[2][15] POJ-U1a is a highly branched polysaccharide consisting of pyranoside and funanside,[16] and there is also a series of polysulfated polysaccharides known as sOPS(t), sOPS(80), sJPS(t) and sJPS(50).[17]

Carbohydrates consist of 71% of the roots dry weight.[2][18]

The polysaccharides in this plant also appear to be bioactive in regards to diabetes and possible the immune system, and due to their large quantities they may be the major consitutents of consuming the her




NonMammalian Studies

The steroidal glycoside Nolinospiroside F has been noted to prolong yeast lifespan in a manner associated with SIRT1 activation and increased antioxidative effects (due to higher SOD expression and reduced oxidation byproducts), and 10µM of Nolinospiroside F appeared to outperform 10µM resveratrol.[5]





Ruscogenin and some of the steroidal lactones (Spicatoside A) in ophiopogon japonicus appear to be able to induce neuritogenesis in PC12 cells at low concentrations (0.3-1μM, 300-1,000nM) in a manner dependent on activating ERK signalling;[19][3] the potency is lesser than the reference drug of NGF itself (40ng/mL), with NGF increasing neurite growth by 80% relative to baseline and some of the steroidal lactones in the range of 46-54% (control, in medium without any agonist, reaching 10% higher than baseline).[3]


Stroke and Ischemia

In mice given 5-10mg/kg of pure ruscogenin prior to ischemia/reperfusion (MCAO) did not alter blood flow during ischemia but reduced the infarct size afterwards in a dose-dependent manner by 37.4-63%.[20]


Interactions with Glucose Metabolism


Type II Diabetes

The polysaccharide component of this plant (OJP1) appears to possess antidiabetic properties in basic streptozotocin induced diabetic rat models[13][14] and in diabetic rats who are also pregnant[12] in a seemingly dose-dependent manner in the rangeof 150-500mg/kg.


Fat Mass and Obesity



In streptozotocin induced diabetic pregnant rats (model for gestational diabetes), the polysaccharide fragment of ophiopogon japonicus (125-500mg/kg) orally for two weeks is able to attenuate changes in blood glucose and insulin thought to be secondary to attenuating the suppression of adiponectin synthesis in adipose tissue.[12]

1.^Guo Y, Liu YX, Kang LP, Zhang T, Yu HS, Zhao Y, Xiong CQ, Ma BPTwo novel furostanol saponins from the tubers of Ophiopogon japonicusJ Asian Nat Prod Res.(2013)
3.^Qu Y, Zhang Y, Pei L, Wang Y, Gao L, Huang Q, Ojika M, Sakagami Y, Qi JNew neuritogenic steroidal saponin from Ophiopogon japonicus (Thunb.) Ker-GawlBiosci Biotechnol Biochem.(2011)
7.^Li N, Zhang JY, Zeng KW, Zhang L, Che YY, Tu PFAnti-inflammatory homoisoflavonoids from the tuberous roots of Ophiopogon japonicusFitoterapia.(2012 Sep)
9.^Hoang Anh NT, Van Sung T, Porzel A, Franke K, Wessjohann LAHomoisoflavonoids from Ophiopogon japonicus Ker-GawlerPhytochemistry.(2003 Apr)
13.^Chen X, Tang J, Xie W, Wang J, Jin J, Ren J, Jin L, Lu JProtective effect of the polysaccharide from Ophiopogon japonicus on streptozotocin-induced diabetic ratsCarbohydr Polym.(2013 Apr 15)
15.^Xu DS, Feng Y, Lin X, Deng HL, Fang JN, Dong QIsolation, purification and structural analysis of a polysaccharide MDG-1 from Ophiopogon japonicusYao Xue Xue Bao.(2005 Jul)
17.^Zhang J, Chen J, Wang D, Hu Y, Zhang C, Qin T, Liu C, Sheng X, Nguyen TLImmune-enhancing activity comparison of sulfated ophiopogonpolysaccharide and sulfated jujube polysaccharideInt J Biol Macromol.(2013 Jan)
19.^Ye Y, Qu Y, Tang R, Cao S, Yang W, Xiang L, Qi JThree new neuritogenic steroidal saponins from Ophiopogon japonicus (Thunb.) Ker-GawlSteroids.(2013 Sep 4)