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Herbs & Botanicals

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Siler Root (Fang Feng)

What is siler root?  What is it used for?

Also known as ledebouriella, siler is a long, cone-shaped plant that reaches a height of 6 to 12 inches, and appears thicker as it enters the ground.  The external surface of the plant is gray and wrinklish, and is often dotted with raised scars.  The plant's bark is brownish and cracked, with an interior wood that is yellowish in color.  The root is cut into small pieces, dried, and used in herbal preparations

In traditional Chinese medicine, siler is considered to have pungent, sweet-warm properties, and works on the Liver and Spleen meridians.  It is used to dispel pathogenic wind, resolve dampness and arrest convulsions, and is especially effective in treating "wind moist" disorders.  In terms of Western medicine, siler root can be used to treat cold-related headaches and body aches, diarrhea, chills and tremors.  It has also been employed as a remedy for tetanus, lockjaw and general convulsions.

How much siler root should I take?

The typical dosage of siler is between 3 and 9 grams, depending on the condition being treated.  Make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider as to the proper dosage.

What forms of siler root are available?

Siler root is usually sold as a powder, either alone or in a capsule form.  It is sometimes used as part of a formula in conjunction with herbs such as ligusticum and angelica. Dried pieces of siler root are available at some Asian markets and specialty stores.

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

The American Herbal Products Association has given siler a class 1 rating, meaning that it can be consumed safely when used appropriately.  As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with siler root.  However, it should not be taken when yin deficiency heat patterns are present.  As always, make sure to consult with a qualified health care provider before taking siler root or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Bensky D, Gamble A. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993, pp. 236-237.
  • Bensky D, Barolet R. Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas and Strategies. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1990, pp. 174-176.
  • Holmes P. Jade Remedies: A Chinese Herbal Reference for the West. Boulder, CO: Snow Lotus Press, 1997, pp. 559-560.
  • Jin G, Li J, Piao H. Chemical constituents of ledebouriella seseloides Wolff. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi Jan 1992;17(1):38-40, 64. Chinese.
  • McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds.) American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, p. 68.

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