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Ophiopogon japonicus has long been used in Oriental herbal medicine. The earliest reference to its use is in the Shennong Bencao Jing, or Herbal Classic of the Divine Plowman. The oldest known edition of this classic was printed around A.D. 300. Ophiopogon is thought to be effective in clearing away what Chinese medical practitioners call "heat in the heart" and irritability. Ophiopogon is an antiseptic that is particularly useful in the healing of mouth sores. Its sedative qualities provide relief for insomnia, heart palpitations, anxiety, and rest-lessness. It is similar to the many chemical sedatives used in Western medicine in that it reduces muscle spasm.
Ophiopogon also moistens the mucous membranes of the body by stimulating the production of mucosal fluids. Moisturizing of the lungs reduces coughing. In the intestines, increasing the level of moisture improves elimination. Because of these qualities, ophiopogon is used in formulas to treat constipation, dry throat, and chronic dry bronchitis. Because ophiopogon has been shown to lower blood sugar and regenerates necessary cells in the pancreatic isles of Langerhans, it is also considered useful in treating the fluid imbalance caused by diabetes, as evidenced by excessive thirst and urination.