Jin Qian Cao, known in English as Gold Coin Grass, is the common name for several herbs with leaves that resemble gold coins. They are generally used for the same purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine, although they are not closely related. These plants include Lysimachia christinae, Desmodium styracifolium and Glechoma hederaea. Desmodium styracifolium is the most common plant in the West that is known as Chinese Gold Coin Grass. This plant originated in Asia and has a variety of uses in herbal medicine. Cold Coin Grass is readily available from commercial sources in a variety of preparations.
The native range for Chinese Gold Coin Grass is the lowlands below 1,000 meters in East Asia. This includes Cambobia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia and Vietnam. Gold Coin Grass in China is most common in Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan and south Yunnan provinces.
Gold Coin Grass is a legume that can fix nitrogen, meaning that it converts atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia. This chemical is a natural fertilizer that prevents the soil from being depleted of nutrients. Cold Coin Grass’ is used in herbal medicine to increase urination, reduce fever and treat sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea.
Gold Coin Grass is a deciduous plant that can grow to one meter in height. It has simple leaves that grow on opposite sides of the stems. This plant has small, purple flowers that grow as racemes and bloom in summer. Gold Coin Grass is a perennial plant that is very cold-hardy. Each plant has male and female flowers that are pollinated by insects.
This plant grows as a small shrub with many branches. The young branches are covered with a dense layer of yellow or white hairs. The leaves usually have one lobe, although they may have up to three lobes. The oval leaves are less than one inch wide and less than two inches in length.
The most clinically significant health benefit of Cold Coin Grass is the treatment of gallstones and kidney stones, which can minimize the need for surgery. Prolonged use of this herb can reduce the size of kidney stones and allow them to be passed from the body during urination.
Gallstones can form from bile and cholesterol in the gall bladder of some people. They often must be removed surgically, which can result in complications. Gold Coin Grass can reduce the size of gallstones to the point that they become asymptomatic.
A study of the effects of Gold Coin Grass on kidney stones was published in the British Journal of Urology in 1993. Researchers at Kumamoto University, Japan induced kidney stones in two groups of mice. Mice in the control group had an 81 percent chance of developing kidney stones while 29 percent of the mice receiving the Gold Coin Grass extract developed kidney stones.
Gold Coin Grass does not appear to have significant side effects in the dosages typically used in herbal medicine. Some people with kidney stones who take this herb report symptoms such as fever, headaches, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. However, these symptoms are generally believed to be caused by the stress of passing the stones rather than the Gold Coin Grass itself.