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Bupleurum

Bupleurum-Original stateBupleurum-Medicinal materialBupleurum-Pieces
Bupleurum-Original stateBupleurum-Medicinal materialBupleurum-Pieces

        
        Latin:
        Radix Bupleuri
         
        Origin:
        Bupleurum, or Thorowax, is the root or whole herb of Bupleurum chinense DC. (north bupleurum), or Bupleurum scorzonerifolium Willd. (south bupleurum), a perennial plant of the family Umbelliferae/Apiaceae. The former is mainly produced in Liaoning, Gansu, Hebei, Henan, etc., while the latter is mainly produced in Hubei, Jiangsu, Sichuan, etc.,
       Picked and dug in spring and autumn, dried in the sun, the root is cut into sections and used when raw or after being mixed and fried with vinegar. The Chinese name is Chaihu. The leaves of the plant are long and thin and resemble fennel.
       Also called China Thorowax, Chinese Thorowax.
         
        Properties:
        Pungent and bitter in flavor, slightly cold in nature, it is related to the liver and gall-bladder channels.
         
        Functions:
        Dispels heat to reduce fever, soothes the liver to regulate the circulation of qi and elevates spleen-yang to raise falling spleen-qi.
         
        Applications:
        1. Used for common colds and fever due to alternate attacks of chills and fever:
       Being pungent and bitter in taste, slightly cold in nature and having such an aromatic smell as to be dispersing and purging, bupleurum is especially good at clearing half-external and half-internal pathogens from the shaoyang channel, so it is a major herb largely used together with skullcap root (Radix Scutellariae), etc., e.g., Xiao Chaihu Tang, for the treatment of shaoyang syndromes such as a sensation of fullness in the brain and the chest and bitter feeling in the mouth and dry throat due to the accumulation of pathogens in the shaoyang channel and alternate attacks of chills and fever; for the treatment of common colds and fever, bupleurum also dispels heat well to reduce fever when used together with licorice; if the pathogenic heat is rather high, it can be used in combination with kudzu vine root (Radix Puerariae), skullcap root (Radix Scutellariae), gypsum, etc., e.g., Chaige Jieji Tang; the existing single or complex injections made of bupleurum has a better antipyretic effect on fever caused by exopathogens.
       2. Used for irregular menstruation and pains in the chest and hyperchondria due to stagnation of liver-qi:
       Bupleurum can disperse stagnated liver-qi, soothe the liver to regulate the circulation of qi and regulate the menstruation to alleviate pains. It is often used together with Chinese angelica, herbaceous peony root (Radix Paeoniae Alba), etc., e.g., Xiaoyao San, for these ailments; it can also often be used together with nutgrass flatsedge rhizome (Rhizoma Cyperi), chuanxiong (Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong), herbaceous peony root (Radix Paeoniae Alba), etc., e.g., Chaihu Shugan San, for pains in the chest and hypochondria resulting from whether internal injury with stagnation of liver-qi or external injury due to falling and stumbling.
       3. Used for protracted diarrhea with proctoptosis due to qi deficiency and falling:
       This herb is good at lifting lucid yang-qi in the spleen and stomach and for treatment of such ailments as fever with the lassitude of spirit, small intake with loose stools, protracted diarrhea with proctoptosis, gastroptosia, metroptosis, etc., often in combination with ginseng, milk vetch root (Radix Astragali seu Hedysari), skunk bugbane rhizome (Rhizoma Cimicifugae), etc., e.g., Buzhong Yiqi Tang.
       In addition, bupleurum can also reduce fever and prevent attacks of malaria, so it is a common medicine for malaria and chills and fever and it is often used together with dichroa root (Radix Dichroae), skullcap root (Radix Scutellariae), skunk bugbane rhizome (Rhizoma Cimicifugae), etc., e.g., Buzhong Yiqi Tang.
         
        Dosage and Administration:
        3-10 g.
       Decoct the ingredients for drinking. It should be used when raw to reduce fever with reconciliation, mixed and fried with vinegar to disperse depressed liver-qi and stir-fried with turtle blood to treat hectic or consumptive fever as seen in pulmonary tuberculosis.
         
        Cautions on Use:
        Bupleurum is rising and dispersing in property, so there was an ancient saying that "bupleurum robs the liver of its yin" and it should be avoided or used carefully by anyone who has liver-yang hyperactivity, the up-stirring of liver-wind, hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency or the upward reverse flow of qi.
         
        Reference Materials:
        Shen Nong's Herbal Classic : "It is indicated for the stagnation of qi in the chest and abdomen and in the stomach and intestines, the retention of the mixture of food and drinks and affection by cold and heat pathogenic factors in order to bring forth the new through the old."
       Amplified Materia Medica : "In brief, bupleurum makes the treatment of two pathogens: one being excess of pathogens, namely the exopathogens existing in the half-external and half-internal part, which should be drawn out, enabled to reach the body surface and disperse for itself; the other being weakened body resistance, namely clear qi falling to the yin system, which should be lifted and returned to its original location so that the qi will reactivate itself in the spleen and stomach."
         
        Toxic or Side Effects:
         
        Modern Researches:
        Bupleurum root contains alpha-spinasterol, adonitol, saikosaponin, an essential oil (volatile oil), etc. Narrowleaf thorowax root contains saponin, an essential oil, bupleurumol and adonitol.
       Bupleurum has extensive central nerve inhibiting effects such as tranquilizing, analgesic, antipyretic, antitussive and other ones. Saikosaponin can reduce cholesterols in plasma; bupleurum can resist fatty liver and hepatic injury, normalize the secretion of bile and reduce transaminase in a better way. Bupleurum decoction can inhibit Mycobacterium tuberculosis, while bupleurum essential oil can resist influenza virus and strengthen the immunity of the body.
       For self protection, the outer skin (bark) of many plants contains essential oil, which in turn has elements that serve as an immediate chemical defense against herbivores and pathogens. How? There is an element called hydroxynitrile glucoside in essential oil. This element will release toxic hydrogen cyanide by endogenous plant glucosidase upon tissue disruption (see Anne Vinther Morant, Kirsten Jorgensen, Charlotte Jorgensen, Suzanne Michelle Paquette, Raquel Sanchez-Perez, Birger Lindberg Moller, and Soren Bak, "beta-Glucosidases as Detonators of Plant Chemical Defense," Phytochemistry Vol. 69, Issue 9 (June 2008), pp. 1,795-1,813).
       Glucosidase is a catalyzing enzyme that improves healthy functions of our body. It is a lipase that decomposes fat; it can also check inflammation and improve memory (see Mikako Sakurai, Masayuki Sekiguchi, Ko Zushida, Kazuyuki Yamada, Satoshi Nagamine, Tomohiro Kabuta and Keiji Wada, "Reduction in memory in passive avoidance learning, exploratory behaviour and synaptic plasticity in mice with a spontaneous deletion in the ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 gene," European Journal of Neuroscience Vol. 27, Issue 3 (February 2008), pp. 691-701).
       A variety of the plants in the same genus can be included in herbs, such as Yinzhou bupleurum (Bupleurum yinchowense Shan et Y. Li, Xing'an bupleurum (Bupleurum Sibricum Vest) and bambooleaf bupleurum (Bupleurum marginatun Wall. ex DC.