Gou Teng plant - Uncaria Rhynchophylla (Rubiaceae)

Medicinal Use of Gou Teng – Uncaria Rhynchophylla (Rubiaceae)


Climbing perennial growing to 33 ft (10 m). Has opposite lance-shaped leaves, thorns, and composite flowerheads.

Habitat & Cultivation

Native to China and Southeast Asia, gou teng is cultivated in the southern and eastern provinces of China. The stems and thorns are collected in autumn and winter.

Parts Used

Stems, thorns.


Gou teng contains indole alkaloids, flavonoids, triterpenoid, and polysaccharides.

History & Folklore

The first recorded use of gou teng in Chinese medicine is in the Miscellaneous Records (c. 500 CE).

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Gou teng is a sedative and antispasmodic, and is mainly used to ease symptoms such as tremors, seizure, spasms, headache, and dizziness. It is also prescribed for infantile convulsions. In Chinese herbal medicine it “extinguishes [internal] wind [gas] and stops tremors.” It is also used by the Chinese to reduce high blood pressure and excess liver “fire.”


Chinese tests on laboratory animals indicate that gou teng lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and has notable sedative activity.

Related Species

Like gou teng, pale catechu (U. gambier) contains a constituent that lowers blood pressure. See also cat’s claw (U. tomentosa).


Take gou teng only under professional supervision.