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Herbs & Botanicals

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Omphalia (lei wan)

What is omphalia? What is it used for?

Omphalia is a type of mushroom, which has been given the interesting nickname of "thunder ball" because of its appearance. Externally, omphalia is blackish-brown or grayish-brown in appearance, with marble-like striations and a yellow-white interior.

The mushroom is gathered in the spring, autumn and winter. It is cleaned, dried in the sun and then ground or pounded into a powder.

Omphalia has a grainy, slightly bitter taste and cold properties, and is associated with the Stomach and Large Intestine meridians. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used mainly to treat intestinal parasites and disorders such as ascariasis and taeniasis, and to fight malnutrition in children. One popular herbal formula for fighting hookworms and roundworms consists of omphalia, areca seed and chinaberry bark.

How much omphalia should I take?

The recommended dosage of omphalia is 20-60 grams of dried herb, or 5-7 grams of a pill or powder taken 2-3 times per day. It should not be boiled or baked at a high temperature.

What forms of omphalia are available?

In addition to dried omphalia, pills and powders are available at most herbal shops and Asian markets.

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

Because omphalia has slightly toxic properties, it should be consumed only under strict supervision of a licensed health care provider, and should not be taken by women who are pregnant or lactating. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with omphalia. As always, make sure to speak with a qualified health care practitioner before taking omphalia or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Donley KM. Eastern medicine offers alternative IBS treatments. EndoNurse October/November 2002.
  • Gaeddert A. Key blood-building strategies. Acupuncture Today June 2000.
  • Gaeddert A. How do you treat IBS? Acupuncture Today August 2000.
  • KPC Herbs Catalog, 5th edition. Irvine, CA: KPC Products, 2001, p. 28.
  • Wynn S. Anthelmintic therapy in holistic veterinary practice. Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association 1996;15(1):15-19.

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