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Herbs & Botanicals

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Red Atractylodes (cang zhu)

What is red atractylodes? What is it used for?

Red atractylodes is an aromatic herb found throughout Asia, especially China. The plant consists of a tall, thin wooden stem, with serrated leaves that have small, hairlike projections at the end. The rhizome is used medicinally.

The main active ingredients of red atractylodes are essential oils, which comprise approximately five percent of the dried rhizome. The principal constituent is beta-eudesmol; other components include hinesol, elemol, atractylodin, selinene and furaldehyde. The pharmacology of red atractyldoes' essential oil has not been documented fully, but reports indicate that it is effective in treating pruritis, urticaria, dermatitis and eczema.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the main uses of red atractylodes are treatment of digestive system disorders and arthralgia. It is utilized to dry dampness of the spleen and stomach, expel wind-cold dampness, and strengthen the spleen.

How much red atractylodes should I take?

Many practitioners recommend taking between 4.5-9 grams of red atractylodes daily, or as needed. Quality atractylodes root should be large, solid and aromatic.

What forms of red atractylodes are available?

In addition to fresh herb, red atractylodes is available as a tea, tincture, extract or powder. The powdered form of the herb is often used with other herbs to make herbal formulas.

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

Red atractylodes has been given a class I safety rating by the American Herbal Products Association, meaning that it can be consumed safely when taken in appropriate doses. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with white atractylodes. As always, make sure to consult with a qualified health care provider before taking atractylodes or any herbal product or dietary supplement.

References

  • Li L. Practical Traditional Chinese Dermatology. Hong Kong: Hai Feng Publishing Company, 1995.
  • Sionneau P, Dui Y. The Art of Combining Chinese Medicinals. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press, 1997.
  • Tang W, Eisenbrand G. Chinese Drugs of Plant Origin. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1992.
  • Zhu Y. Chinese Materia Medica: Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Applications. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998.
  • Yan W, Fischer W. Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications, 1997.

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