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Herbs & Botanicals

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Eucommia bark (du zhong)

What is eucommia bark? What is it used for?

Eucommia bark comes from the eucommia, or hardy rubber tree. The tree is a member of the rubber family and is found in the Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Hubei provinces of China. Mature trees can reach a height of 50 feet; however, the tree is not killed to obtain the bark.

Instead, small patches are peeled away from trees 10 over 10 years old in the late summer and early autumn. The inner bark contains a white, rubberish liquid that accounts for eucommia's healing properties.

In traditional Chinese medicine, eucommia bark has sweet, warm properties. It is associated with the liver and kidneys, and is considered the primary herb used to increase yang functions in the body. Eucommia bark strengthens the bones and muscles, heals injured and weakened tissues, and can treat lower back and leg pain, stiffness and arthritis.

In addition to its healing effects, eucommia has the ability to lower blood pressure; most Chinese formulas used to lower blood pressure contain at least some amount of eucommia. It is also given to pregnant women to calm the fetus and prevent miscarriage.

How much eucommia bark should I take?

The traditional amount of eucommia bark is 10-15 grams, boiled in water for oral use.

What forms of eucommia bark are available?

Dried eucommia bark may be available in some specialty stores. You are more likely to find it as a decoction, or as part of a formula containing other herbs.

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

As of this writing, there are no known side effects associated with eucommia, nor are there any reports of toxicity due to overdose. However, because eucommia has an effect on blood pressure, patients taking blood pressure medications should consult with their health care provider before taking eucommia or formulas that contain it.

As always, consult with a qualified, licensed health care provider before taking eucommia or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Chen LJ, Hu TW, Huang LC. A protocol toward multiplication of the medicinal tree Eucommia ulmoides Oliver. In Vitro Cell De Biol 1995; 31P(4):193-198.
  • Davidson T. Eucommia. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Gale Group, 2001.
  • Foster S, Chongxi Y. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992.
  • Hsieh C, Yen GC. Antioxidant actions of du zhong (Eucommia ulmoides Oliv.) toward oxidative damage in biomolecules. Life Sciences 2000; 66(15):1387—400.
  • Teeguarden R. Radiant Health: The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs. New York: Warner Books, 1998, pp. 164-167.

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