Herbs & Botanicals
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
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
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
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.
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Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications, 1997.