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Herbs & Botanicals

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Bulrush (pu huang)

What is bulrush? What is it used for?

Also known as cat-tail pollen, bulrush is a perennial aquatic plant that grows in marshes and swamplands worldwide. It can reach a height of more than nine feet, and usually blooms in June and July. In China, bulrush is produced mainly in the Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Shandong provinces.

It is reaped in the summer, dried in the sun, then crushed and separated from the remainder of the plant. It can be used either raw or after being parched.

According to traditional Chinese medical principles, bulrush has sweet, pungent and neutral properties, and is associated with the Liver, Heart and Spleen meridians. Its amin functions are to dissipate blood stasis and induce diuresis. The most common use for bulrush is to help stop bleeding, whether it is caused by traumatic injuries or internal disorders, along with hematemesis (vomiting blood), epistaxis (nosebleeds) and hematuria (blood in the urine). It also helps treat dysmenorrheal and postpartum abdominal pain. In addition, there is anecdotal evidence that bulrush extracts can reduce the amount of lipids in the blood and treat colitis.

How much bulrush should I take?

The typical dosage of bulrush is between 4.5 grams and 12 grams, depending on the condition being treated. It can be ingested (after being packed in cloth and decocted in boiled water) or applied directly to the skin to treat external injuries. Parched bulrush is more effective in stopping bleeding, while raw bulrush is more effective in treated blood stasis and stagnations.

What forms of bulrush are available?

Dried bulrush can be found at many Asian markets. Bulrush decoctions, teas and extracts can also be found at some specialty stores. If bulrush is being used as a decoction, make sure to pack it in cloth before decocting.

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

Bulrush should not be given to patients whose bleeding is the result of blood stasis. In addition, there is evidence that large amounts of bulrush can cause a woman's uterus to contract. As a result, it should not be given to pregnant women.

References

  • Preston CD, Pearman DA, Dines TD. The New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Bown D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1995. ISBN # 0-7513-020-31.
  • Foster S, Duke JA. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1990. ISBN # 0-3954-672-25.
  • Facciola S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Vista, CA: Kampong Publications, 1990. ISBN # 0-9628087-0-9.
  • Huxley A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. New York: MacMillan Press, 1992. ISBN # 0-333-47494-5.

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