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Antelope's Horn (ling yang jiao)

What is antelope's horn? What is it used for?

Although not an herb, antelope's horn is nevertheless an important component of herbal medicine. There are several species of antelopes, which roam throughout Africa and Eurasia. The horns vary in shape from antelope to antelope; some are short and spiky; some are spirally twisted; and some are long and harp-shaped.

In China, antelope's horn is produced predominantly in the Xinjiang, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. The antelope is captured (usually in autumn) and its horns cut off for use. The horn is then dried in the sun and cut into thin slices.

In traditional Chinese medicine, antelope's horn is associated with the Liver and Heart meridians, and has salty and cold properties. Its main functions are to pacify the liver, to clear heat, and to release toxins. Antelope's horn is used to treat a variety of conditions, including high fevers, eye problems (including red eyes and blurred vision), and headaches. It is often mixed with other herbs and substances to create larger formulas.

How much antelope's horn should I take?

The typical dosage of antelope's horn is between 1 and 3 grams, decocted in water. Some practitioners recommend smaller doses (0.3-0.5 grams) of powdered antelope horn, also taken with water.

What forms of antelope's horn are available?

Slices of antelope's horn can be found at some Asian markets and herbal shops; however, the horn is extremely expensive. Some stores also sell powdered antelope's horn. In addition, antelope horn is often sold as part of a larger herbal formula.

What can happen if I take too much antelope's horn? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

If antelope's horn is being used as a decoction, it should be decocted alone for a minimum of two hours before drinking the decoction. Extracts of the exodermis of antelope horn may have a negative effect on the central nervous system. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with antelope's horn. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking antelope's horn or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Huang B, Wang Y. Thousand Formulas and Thousand Herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Beijing: Heilongjiang Education Press, 1993.
  • Jia YY, et al. Comparative analysis on hydracid and trace elements in shui niu jian and ling yang jiao. Journal of Shizhen Medicinal Material Research 1997;8(3):216-217.
  • Lu CH. Journal of Research in Traditional Chinese Medicine 1999;12(3):36-37.
  • Lu S, Cai H (chief editors). English-Chinese Encyclopedia of Practical Traditional Chinese Medicine, Volume 17: Ophthalmology. Beijing: Higher Education Press, 1989.
  • Zhang E. The Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai: Publishing House of Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1990.

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