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Herbs & Botanicals

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Ash bark (qin pi)

What is ash bark? What is it used for?

The ash is a family of approximately 70 species of trees and shrubs, most of which grow in North America. The timber of the ash tree is valued for its beauty and strength; many early baseball bats were made of ash, as are a considerable number of today's hockey sticks, oars and tennis rackets, and the handles of shovels, rakes and other gardening tools.

For medicinal purposes, however, the bark of the ash tree has special significance.

In China, ash trees are grown in the Jilin, Liaoning and Henan provinces. The trees are harvested twice per year (spring and autumn). The bark is peeled off the trunk, dried in the sun, and used raw.

In traditional Chinese medicine, ash bark is associated with the Liver, Gallbladder, and Large Intestine meridians, and has bitter and cold properties. Its two main actions are to reduce heat and resolve dampness, and to clear away liver heat. In modern applications, ash bark is used with other herbs to treat both acute and chronic forms of dysentery and diarrhea, and to reduce swelling and pain. Ash bark decoctions have been shown to inhibit the activity of several types of bacteria. A decoction of ash bark can also be used as an eyewash to reduce soreness and redness.

How much ash bark should I take?

The typical recommended dose of ash bark is 6 to 12 grams pre day, ground into a powder and mixed with water as a decoction. Larger amounts can be used as an eywash and if ash bark is being applied topically.

What forms of ash bark are available?

Whole, raw slices of ash bark can be found at some Asian markets. Powdered ash bark is much easier to find, as are ash bark pills, capsules, tablets and decoctions.

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

Ash bark should not be taken by patients with deficient spleen yang. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with ash bark. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking ash bark or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Ann SW, Oshima Y. Structure and regeneration of fraxinus spaethiana - pterocarya rhoifolia forests in unstable valleys in the Chichibu mountains, central Japan. Ecological Research 1996;11(3):363-370.
  • Chen JK. Ulcerative colitis. Medical Acupuncture 2002;13(3):25-28.
  • Chen J, Chen T. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry, CA: Art of Medicine Press, 2004.
  • Luo HS, Luo DH, et al. TCM Immunology: Chinese Medicine Pharmacology and Clinical Practice, Beijing: Joint Publishing House of Beijing Medical College and Beijing Union Medical College, April 1999.
  • Shi L, Shi P. Experince in treating carcinoma with traditional Chinese medicine. Shandong Science and Technology Press, Shandong, 1990.

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