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Herbs & Botanicals

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Dittany Bark (bai xian pi)

What is dittany bark? What is it used for?

Dittany bark comes from a type of bush (dictamni radicis). In China, it is produced mainly in the Liaoning, Hebei, Jiangsu, Shanxi and Jilin provinces. The roots of the bush are harvested in the spring and autumn. Once any fibrous material has been removed from the roots, the bark is peeled off, cut into slices, and dried in the sun.

In traditional Chinese medicine, dittany bark has bitter and cold properties, and is associated with the Spleen and Stomach meridians. Its functions are to treat skin conditions such as scabies, eczema and rashes, along with pruritus. It is often used with other herbs to treat arthritic pain and jaundice. Animal studies have shown that dittany bark can increase heart rate and stimulate the smooth muscles of the uterus.

How much dittany bark should I take?

The typical dosage of dittany bark is between 6 and 9 grams, boiled in water as a decoction. For external use, boil an appropriate amount in water and apply with a washcloth, or make into a powder an apply to the affected area.

What forms of dittany bark are available?

Whole, sliced dittany bark can be found at some Asian markets and specialty stores. Some herbal shops also sell powdered dittany bark and dittany bark extracts.

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

Dittany bark should not be used in patients diagnosed with cold caused by deficiency of the spleen and stomach. In addition, because of its effect on the uterine muscles of certain animals, it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Applying it to the skin may trigger a reaction in sensitive individuals. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions associated with dittany bark. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking dittany bark or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Dong XT, et al. 54 cases of eczema treated with san huang lotion. Journal of Changchun College of TCM 1999;15(3):43.
  • Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C (eds.) PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, 2000, pp. 130-131.
  • Li P, et al. 132 cases of eczema treated with pi yang ling he ji. Journal of Chengdu University of TCM 1999;22(2):20-21.
  • Shi JM, et al. Treating 40 cases of acute anal eczema with zhi yang xiao zhen tang. Journal of Folk Chinese Medical Treatment 1999;7(11):15-16.
  • Wang YY. 45 cases of chronic eczema treated with qu feng zhi yang tang. Heilongiang Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology 2000;(2):27.

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