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Herbs & Botanicals

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Isatis Leaf (da qing ye)

What is isatis leaf? What is it used for?

Isatis leaf is just that — the leaf of the isatis plant, a biennial herb originally grown in India and China, and now cultivated in the U.S. and elsewhere. The leaves are small and yellow, and usually contain four or more petals. They are collected in the summer and autumn, and prepared by letting them dry naturally in sunlight.

Isatis leaf has antiviral, antibacterial, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used for febrile diseases such as mumps, measles and influenza. It is also used in combination with other herbs such as scrophularia, coptis and dandelion to treat canker sores, sore throats and skin problems. In traditional Chinese medicine terminology, isatis leaf is bitter and salty in flavor and cold in nature, and is used to remove excess fire and blood heat.

Isatis leaf should not be confused with isatis root (ban lan gen). This part of the plant has similar properties, but is used for different conditions.

How much isatis leaf should I take?

Depending on the condition being treated, most herbalists and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine will recommend between 10-15 grams of isatis leaf.

What forms of isatis leaf are available?

Fresh and dried isatis leaves are available at Asian markets, ayurvedic supply stores and some specialty health food stores. Extracts and infusions are also available.

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

Because isatis leaf is considered quite powerful, it should not be used by patients with a weak and cold spleen or stomach. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with isatis leaf. As always, make sure to consult with a qualified health care provider before taking isatis leaf or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Lou F, et al. Natural antineoplastic compounds and their structure-activity relationships. Abstracts of Chinese Medicine 1988;2(4):484-495.
  • Ming O, et al. An Illustrated Guide to Antineoplastic Chinese Herbal Medicine. Hong Kong: The Commercial Press, 1990.
  • Newall, Anderson, Phillipson. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.
  • Rui H. Recent progress of traditional Chinese medicine and herbal medicine for the treatment and prevention of cancer. Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine 1995;1(4):242-248.
  • Weiner J, Weiner M. Herbs That Heal. Cambridge, MA: Quantum Books, 1994.

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