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Herbs & Botanicals

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Schefflera (qi ye lian)

What is schefflera? What is it used for?

Schefflera is a type of climbing vine found in the tropical and subtropical regions of China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Australia. It can reach a height of approximately 10 feet, with a thin, striated stem and palm-shaped leaves. The leaves, stem and roots are used in herbal preparations.

According to the concepts of traditional Chinese medicine, schefflera has bitter, sweet and warm properties, and is associated with the Liver meridian. Its main functions are to promote the circulation of the blood and to alleviate pain. Extracts of schefflera contain a variety of chemicals, including fumaric acid and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid. Modern uses of schefflera include the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, numbness in the limbs, abdominal pain, headaches, arthralgia, and sore and/or swollen throat. It can also help to relieve asthma. Externally, it can be ground into a paste to treat injuries and stop bleeding.

How much schefflera should I take?

The typical dose of schefflera is between 15 and 30 grams, decocted in water for oral administration. Schefflera tablets are also available, incorporating smaller doses (5-15 grams). Larger doses can be used externally.

What forms of schefflera are available?

Schefflera is available in a variety of forms, ranging from crude herbs to capsules, tablets and extracts.

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

The leaves and sap from schefflera are considered mildly toxic, and can cause vomiting and numbness in the mouth if taken in large doses. If these symptoms occur, discontinue use immediately. Because of schefflera's slightly toxic properties, it should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or administered to infants and young children.

Because of schefflera's anticoagulant effects, it should be used with caution by people taking blood-thinning medications. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking schefflera or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Chen JK, Chen TT. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry, CA: Art of Medicine Press, 2004, pp. 314-315.
  • Dharmananda S. Simple traditional formulas for pain. Portland, OR: Institute for Traditional Medicine. Published August 2002. Available online.
  • Hou D, Zhang W, Hui R. Separation and determination of chemical constituents in the volatile oil of three traditional Chinese crude drugs. J Pharm Biomed Anal September 1998;17(8):1423-6.
  • Kim OS, Choi JH, Soung YH, et al. Establishment of in vitro test system for the evaluation of the estrogenic activities of natural products. Arch Pharm Res September 2004;27(9):906-11.
  • Zhang L, Wang Y, Wang LZ, et al. Immunopotentiating effect of a "yang"-promoting formula of traditional Chinese medicine on aged female BALB/c mice. Phytother Res October 2004;18(10):857-61.

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