Information about the herb Polygala Tenuifolia

Polygala tenuifolia, also known as Chinese Senega is part of the Polygalaceae plant family. Polygala sibirica is used interchangeably with Polygala tenuifolia in traditional Chinese Medicine and Polygala senega (Snakeroot) also has expectorant activity and has been used in western herbal medicine.

Botanical Name: Polygala tenuifolia

Plant Family: Polygalaceae

Common name: Chinese Senega, Yuan Zhi

History: Used in traditional Chinese Medicine

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Plant Constituents of Polygala Tenuifolia


  • Triterpenoid saponins, including tenuifolin
  • Resin


  • acrid
  • bitter [applied to bitter tasting drugs which act on the mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach to increase appetite and promote digestion]
  • expectorant [an agent that promotes the discharge of mucous and secretions from the respiratory passages]
  • sedative [a soothing agent that reduces nervousness, distress or irritation]
  • warming

Usage of Polygala Tenuifolia

Medicinal Parts Used: Root bark

Polygala tenuifolia is used for:

Brain and Nervous System Conditions

Polygala tenuifolia benefits the mental states

  • amnesia
  • anxiety, often combined with the herbs Kava, Passionflower, Schisandra and Zizyphus
  • constrained emotions 
  • dream-disturbed sleep, often combined with the herb Schisandra
  • excessive brooding
  • fear, often combined with the herb Schisandra
  • forgetfulness
  • insomnia, often combined with the herb Schisandra
  • mental disorientation
  • neuresthenia, often combined with the herb Schisandra
  • palpitations, often combined with the herbs Kava, Passionflower, Schisandra and Zizyphus
  • pent-up emotional states
  • restlessness

Respiratory Tract Conditions

Often combined with the herbs Adhatoda, Grindelia, Euphorbia and Elecampane for Catarrhal Respiratory states such as:

  • asthma
  • bronchitis
  • common cold

as well as 

  • acute and chronic lower respiratory tract infections
  • allergic respiratory disorders, often combined with the herbs Albizia, Baical Skullcap
  • cough with copious sputum
  • sputum difficult to expectorate

Skin Conditions

  • boils
  • sores
  • swellings


The adult dosage of Polygala 1:2 liquid extract is 20-20mL per week

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Drug Interactions:

Do not use Polygala without first talking to your practitioner or healthcare provider if you are taking any of the following medications:

  • None indicated

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