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Herbs & Botanicals

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Lycium Bark (di gu pi)

What is lycium bark? What is it used for?

Also known as the Chinese wolfberry, lycium comes from a medium-sized bush that is native to east Asia and Europe. In China, the best lycium grows and is cultivated in the Ningzia, Gansu and Qinghai provinces.

Lycium bark is light brown in color, and comes from the roots of the lycium bush. To harvest lycium bark, the roots are first dug up in the spring or autumn. The bark is peeled off the roots, dried in the sun, then cut into pieces.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, lycium bark has sweet and cold properties, and is associated with the Lung, Liver and Kidney meridians. Its functions are to remove heat from the blood and clear away heat in the lungs. It is used to treat conditions such as fever, night sweats, coughs and asthma. Some practitioners use lycium bark to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

How much lycium bark should I take?

The typical dosage of lycium bark is between six and 15 grams, decocted in water. It is usually taken with other herbs, such as imperata, schisandra and rehmannia.

What forms of lycium bark are available?

Powdered lycium bark can be found at most Asian markets and specialty stores. Whole, dried lycium bark can also be found in some herbal shops.

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

Lycium bark should not be used by patients who are diagnosed with fever caused by the common cold, or patients with weakness of the spleen accompanied by diarrhea. Because it can lower blood pressure levels, it should not be used by patients taking blood pressure medications. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking lycium bark or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Carter BB. Herbs for diabetes, part II. Available online.
  • Choate CJ. Modern medicine and traditional Chinese medicine - diabetes mellitus. Journal of Chinese Medicine May 1999.
  • Dharmananda S. The interactions of herbs and drugs. Institute for Traditional Medicine Web site. Published June 2001.
  • Miller LG. Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions. Arch Intern Med Nov. 9, 1998;158(20):2200-11.
  • Zhou J, Qiao W, Zhang Y, et al. Screening on effective composition of cortex lycii radicis (CLR) in alloxan diabetic mice. Journal of Chinese Traditional Patent Medicine September 2002.

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