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Herbs & Botanicals

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Lepidium Seed (ting li zi)

What is lepidium seed? What is it used for?

Also known as the pepperweed and tansy mustard, lepidium is an annual plant, which grows to a height of 18 inches and bears feather-like leaves and white flowers. The plant grows in the Hebei and Liaoning provinces of China. The entire plant is harvested in the summer and dried in the sun. After drying out, the seeds are collected for use in herbal remedies.

In traditional Chinese medicine, lepidium seed has bitter, pungent and cold properties, and is associated with the Lung and Urinary Bladder meridians. Among the conditions lepidium seed is used to treat are asthma, edema and pleurisy. It can also be used to treat abdominal distention and dry mouth. Lepidium seed is often used with zizyphus and rhubarb.

How much lepidium seed should I take?

The typical dose of lepidium seed is between 3 and 9 grams, boiled in water and taken as a decoction. It is often mixed with honey.

What forms of lepidium seed are available?

Whole, dried lepidium seeds can be found at most Asian markets and specialty stores. Some herbal shops also sell lepidium seed powder, which can be mixed into herbal decoctions.

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

Some side-effects have been noted in patients taking large amounts of lepidium seed, including nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and lowered blood pressure. As a result, it should not be taken before consulting with a licensed health care provider. As always, make sure to speak with a qualified health care practitioner before taking lepidium seed or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  1. Antonsen F, Johnsson A. Effects of microgravity on the growth of lepidium roots. J Gravit Physiol Oct 1998;5(2):13-21.
  2. Comhaire FH, Mahmoud A. The role of food supplements in the treatment of the infertile man. Reprod Biomed Online Oct-Nov 2003;7(4):385-91.
  3. McKay D. Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. Altern Med Rev Mar 2004;9(1):4-16.
  4. Muhammad I, Zhao J, Dunbar DC, et al. Constituents of lepidium meyenii maca. Phytochemistry Jan 2002;59(1):105-10.
  5. Wuytack EY, Diels AM, Meersseman K, et al. Decontamination of seeds for seed sprout production by high hydrostatic pressure. J Food Prot June 2003;66(6):918-23.

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