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Herbs & Botanicals

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Isatis Root (ban lan gen)

What is isatis root? What is it used for?

Isatis root comes from the isatis plant, which originated in China and India and is now cultivated in the West. It has played an important role in both ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. Isatis root is grayish-yellow or brownish-yellow in color, with small rootlets or protuberances that are dark green or brown. Traditionally, it is harvested in the autumn, removed from the soil and allowed to dry naturally in the sun.

In traditional Chinese medicine, isatis root is considered a "cooling" herb: it cools the blood and treats damp-heat conditions such as jaundice. Isatis root is a renowned antiviral and antibacterial, which makes it quite useful for conditions such as colds, influenza, sore throats and mumps.

How much isatis root should I take?

Depending on the condition being treated, a typical dosage of isatis root is 10-30 grams.

What forms of isatis root are available?

Dried and cut isatis root is available at many Asian and Indian markets. Fresh root is more difficult to find, but is available at some specialty food stores. Isatis root is also available as a powder or extract.

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

Isatis root should not be used by patients with a weak pulse or weak constitution. There are no known drug interactions with isatis root. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed, qualified health care practitioner before taking isatis root 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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