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Herbs & Botanicals

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Kochia (di fu zi)

What is kochia? What is it used for?

Also known as the broom cypress, the kochia is a small type of shrub, similar in appearance to the common tumbleweed. It is extremely hardy. In China, the kochia grows predominantly in the Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan provinces. The fruit of the kochia is used as a medicinal. The fruit is harvested when it ripens in the fall, then cleaned and dried in the sun for use.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, kochia fruit has sweet, bitter and cold properties, and is affiliated with the Bladder meridian. It can be used both internally and externally. Internally, kochia fruit can treat inflammation, urinary infections, kidney infections, difficulty urinating, edema, and some sexually transmitted diseases (specifically, gonorrhea). Externally, kochia has been used to treat boils, ringworm, and other skin conditions, and to prevent itching. It can be used alone, or combined with other herbs as part of a larger formula.

How much kochia should I take?

The typical dose of kochia fruit is between 3 and 15 grams, steeped in boiling water and drunk as a decoction. Some practitioners may recommend slightly higher doses (10-15 grams). Alternatively, kochia fruit can be applied externally, with the dosage depending on the type of condition being treated.

What forms of kochia are available?

Dried kochia fruit can be found at most herbal shops and Asian markets. In addition to whole fruit, kochia can be found in powder, pill and capsule forms.

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

As of this writing, there are no known side-effects or drug interactions associated with taking kochia. However, kochia fruit should not be used in patients diagnosed with damp heat. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking kochia or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Chen JK, Chen TT. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry, CA: Art of Medicine Press, 2004, pp. 400-401.
  • Dellagreca M, Previtera L, Zarrelli A. A new xyloside from chenopodium album. Nat Prod Res January 2005;19(1):87-90.
  • Maksimovic ZA, Dordevic S, Mraovic M. Antimicrobial activity of chenopodium botrys essential oil. Fitoterapia January 2005;76(1):112-4.
  • Navarro JA, Hervas M, De la rosa MA. Purification of plastocyanin and cytochrome c6 from plants, green algae, and cyanobacteria. Methods Mol Biol 2004;274:79-92.
  • Tumaney AW, Ohlrogge JB, Pollard M. Acetyl coenzyme A concentrations in plant tissues. J Plant Physiol April 2004;161(4):485-8.

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