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Herbs & Botanicals

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Ampelopsis (bai lian)

What is ampelopsis? What is it used for?

Ampelopsis is a type of woody, ornamental vine native to both Asia and North America. It grows extremely quickly, and can reach a height of more than 15 feet in some regions.

It resembles a grape vine in appearance, with dark, green leaves, tiny flowers and curved tendrils (except that it is usually thicker and has a wood-like bark), and produces berries of various colors (usually dark blue). In traditional Chinese medicine, however, the roots are used in herbal preparations. They are removed from the vine, sliced, then dried before being used.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, ampelopsis is associated with the Heart, Stomach and Liver meridians, and has bitter, spicy and cool properties. The roots are used to help clear away heat and resolve tumors. Among the conditions ampelopsis treats are burns, hemorrhoids, scrofula, and certain skin disorders. Ampelopsis is also applied to the skin to promote tissue growth and regeneration.

How much ampelopsis should I take?

The typical dose of ampelopsis is between 3-9 grams of powdered root, boiled in water and drunk as a decoction. Ampelopsis can also be applied to the skin.

What forms of ampelopsis are available?

Dried ampelopsis root can be found at some Asian markets and specialty stores. Powdered ampelopsis root is also available at some herbal shops, as are ampelopsis extracts and poultices.

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

Ampelopsis is considered incompatible with most versions of aconite. Patients already taking aconite should avoid taking ampelopsis; conversely, patients taking ampelopsis should avoid aconite.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions associated with ampelopsis. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking ampelopsis or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Ampelopsis brevipedunculata. In: The Ohio State University: OSU Pocket Gardener. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University, 2000. Available online.
  • Duke JA, Ayensu ES. Medicinal Plants of China. Reference Publications, Inc., 1985. ISBN # 0-917256-20-4.
  • Huxley A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. MacMillan Press, 1992. ISBN # 0-333-47494-5.
  • Kunkel G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books, 1984. ISBN # 3-874-29216-9.
  • Yeung HC. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Los Angeles: Institute of Chinese Medicine, 1985.

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