Sophora Root (ku
Sophora root is the root of sophora
flavescens Ait., a hardy deciduous shrub native to China, Japan, Korea
and Russia. The shrub can reach a height of approximately five feet,
with leaves of various shaves, greenish-yellow flowers, and brown seed
pods that contain small seeds. The root, which is used in herbal
preparations, ranges between four and 12 inches in length and one-half
to an inch in diameter, and is usually brown and curved, with small
cracks or ridges on its outer surface. The roots are prepared by
bundling them and cutting them cross-wise into slices, then allowing
them to dry in the sun.
Sophora root contains a wide range of biologically active components,
the most well-known of which is matrine. Laboratory studies have shown
that matrine can dilate blood vessels, stabilize some heart arrhythmias
and increase cardiac output; however, at large doses, matrine can be
toxic. Animal studies suggest that other substances in sophora root can
stimulate the nervous system, treat asthma, and slow the degeneration of
liver cells and fibrous tissue in the liver.
In doses of 60g/kg had significant effect in treatment of cervical
cancer in mice, and an inhibitory affect on sarcoma-180. Used in
treatment of acute lymphocytic/granulocytic leukemia, inhibiting
dehydrogenase activity and cellular respiration of malignant cells.
The amount of sophora root to be taken depends on the condition being
treated. For internal uses, the generally recommended dose is 3-10 grams
daily, taken as part of a decoction; however, some practitioners have
recommended much higher doses (30-60 grams) to treat arrhythmia. Sophora
root is often combined with other herbs as part of a larger formula to
treat specific conditions.