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Herbs & Botanicals

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Sanguisorba Root (di yu)

What is sanguisorba root? What is it used for?

Also known as the burnet, sanguisorba is a perennial herb found throughout China. It can reach a height of 3 feet, with thing, upright stems and club-shaped clusters of flowers, which are typically dark red and bloom between June and October.

The plant's roots are used in herbal preparations. The roots are typically dug up in the spring and autumn. After any loose fibrous material is removed, the roots are cleaned, dried in the sun, then cut into slices.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, sanguisorba root has bitter, sour and slightly cold properties, and is associated with the Liver, Large Intestine, and Stomach meridians. Its main uses are to stop bleeding and promote healing.

Sanguisorba root is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, ranging from eczema to scalds, burns, sores and skin ulcers. It is also employed to help treat several bleeding-related conditions, including dysentery that is accompanied by bloody stools; metorrhagia; and bleeding associated with hemorrhoids. Sanguisorba root is often incorporated into larger herbal formulas, and is mixed with herbs such as sophora, rehmannia and coptis. In addition, some herbalists may use the leaves and stems of sanguisorba to help treat diarrhea and dysentery.

How much sanguisorba root should I take?

The amount of sanguisorba root to be taken depends on the condition being treated. Typically, practitioners and herbalists may recommend between 10-15 grams of powdered sanguisorba root, boiled in water and drunk as a decoction. Sanguisorba may also be applied directly to the skin to treat some skin disorders.

What forms of sanguisorba root are available?

Dried, sliced sanguisorba root can be found at some Asian markets and herbal shops. Sanguisorba is also available in pill, powder and capsule form. A sanguisorba tea may be made by using the plant's leaves and stems.

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

Sanguisorba should not be used to treat large burns. A chemical contained in sanguisorba may be toxic in large doses after being absorbed by the body. As a result, it should be used with extreme caution when employed to treat skin problems.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions associated with sanguisorba root. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking sanguisorba root or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Abad MJ, Guerra JA, Bermejo P, et al. Search for antiviral activity in higher plant extracts. Phytother Res December 2000;14(8):604-7.
  • Newall C, Anderson L, Phillipson J. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.
  • Park KH, Koh D, Kim K, et al. Antiallergic activity of a disaccharide isolated from sanguisorba officinalis. Phytother Res August 2004;18(8):658-62.
  • Shin TY, Lee KB, Kim SH. Anti-allergic effects of sanguisorba officinalis on animal models of allergic reactions. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol August 2002;24(3):455-68.
  • Tsukahara K, Moriwaki S, Fujimura T, et al. Inhibitory effect of an extract of sanguisorba officinalis L. on ultraviolet-B-induced photodamage of rat skin. Biol Pharm Bull September 2001;24(9):998-1003.

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