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Herbs & Botanicals

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Achyranthes (niu xi)

What is achyranthes? What is it used for?

Achyranthes is a type of flowering herb, which can reach a height of approximately two feet and has small, serrated green leaves. The root is used in herbal preparations, and can be consumed either raw or cooked. Externally, the root is grayish or brownish in appearance, and is sometimes twisted and wrinkled. It has a slight odor and a somewhat bittersweet taste.

In traditional Chinese medicine, achyranthes is considered to be bitter, sour and neutral, and is associated with the Liver and Kidney meridians. Used raw, it promotes the circulation of qi and blood in an effort to restore menstruation and aid with difficult labor in women, because some of its components may stimulate uterine contractions. Typically, it is employed to treat amenorrhea, hematemesis and epistaxis. It is also a good tonic herb, and is used to tonify the liver and kidney. It is often used in conjunction with other herbs as part of a larger formula. There is also some evidence that achyranthes may lower blood sugar.

How much achyranthes should I take?

The typical dosage of achyranthes root is between 9 and 15 grams, used as a powder or decoction. It is also sometimes used raw.

What forms of achyranthes are available?

Whole, raw, dried achyranthes root can be found at most herbal shops and specialty stores. Achyranthes powders and decoctions are also usually available. Achyranthes is often included with other herbs in larger remedies.

What can happen if I take too much achyranthes? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

While some practitioners allow for the use of achyranthes to help deliver a child, it should not be taken by women who are pregnant, nor should it be taken by people suffering from menorrhagia or diarrhea due to spleen deficiency. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with achyranthes. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking achyranthes or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Editorial Committee of Chinese Materia Medica. State Drug Administration of China. Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai: Science and Technology Press, 1998.
  • Ma AL, et al. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine Material 1998;21(7):360-362.
  • Sun YP, et al. Journal of Pharmacology and Clinical Application of TCM 1998;14(4):30-31.
  • Ye YH. Foreign Medicine Volume of TCM 1986;8(1):42.
  • Zhu H, et al. Journal of Chinese Materia Medica 1987;18(4):161.

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