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Herbs & Botanicals

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Notopterygium (qiang huo)

What is notopterygium? What is it used for?

Notopterygium is a type of plant native to east Asia, a relative of the angelica species. The name qiang huo refers to Qiang Zhong, an area in China where the plant grows naturally. The roots and rhizome are used in herbal preparations. First, they are collected during the winter and spring, then cleaned. Any fibrous rootlets are removed. The roots are then allowed to dry naturally and cut into slices for medicinal use.

In traditional Chinese medicine, notopterygium root is associated with the Urinary Bladder and Kidney meridians, and has pungent, bitter and warm properties. It is used to disperse cold, unblock painful obstructions caused by wind/damp/cold pain, and serves as a guiding herb to the governing vessel and greater yang channels. Occasionally, notopterygium is used with other herbs, such as ledebouriella and atractylodes for wind-cold exterior syndrome, and with ledebouriella and turmeric for wind-cold-damp bi syndromes.

Among the Western conditions notopterygium treats are conjunctivitis, colds, fevers, headaches, muscle pain (particularly in the upper back and shoulders), joint pain, and eczema caused by allergic reactions.

How much notopterygium should I take?

The recommended dosage of notopterygium root is 6-12 grams, usually decocted in water. Some practitioners may recommend a slightly smaller dose (3-10 grams), ingested in pills or as powder.

What forms of notopterygium are available?

Dried slices of notopterygium root can be found at some herbal shops, Asian markets and specialty stores. Notopterygium pills and powders are much easier to find, and can be purchased at some nutrition stores and shops.

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

Internal overdoses of notopterygium root can cause nausea and vomiting. It should not be used in cases of blood or yin deficiency. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with notopterygium. As always, however, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking notopterygium or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Cheng YZ, et al. A comparison of the anti-arrhythmic effects of various qiang huo water-soluble components. China Journal of TCM Theories 1998;4(2):43.
  • Sun YF, et al. Qiang huo's chemical composition. China Journal of Chinese Medicine 1994;19(6):357-358.
  • Wang S, et al. Wide-leaved qiang huo's chemical composition. China Journal of Chinese Medicine 1996;21(5):295-296.
  • Wang YT, et al. Pharmacology of qiang huo. Journal of Pharmacology and Clinical Application of TCM 1996;12(4):12-15.
  • Zhang MF, et al. Qiang huo's analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-thrombotic effects. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine Research 1996;6:51-53.

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