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Herbs & Botanicals

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Stellaria (yin chai hu)

What is stellaria? What is it used for?

Stellaria is a type of weed that grows worldwide. It can reach a height of 30 centimeters, with a long, thin yellow stem, oblong leaves and a rather thick root, which is used medicinally. In stellaria cultivation, the roots are dug up in autumn or the beginning of spring. After the plant's fibrous roots are removed, the larger root is cleaned, dried and cut into slices.

In traditional Chinese medicine, stellaria interacts with the Liver and Stomach meridians. Its main functions are to reduce heat caused by yin deficiency in adults, and to clear heat caused by malnutrition or intestinal parasites in infants and children. It is often used with other herbs such as wolfberry bark, sweet wormwood and turtle shell to reduce fever and night sweats.

How much stellaria should I take?

The standard dosage of stellaria root is 3 to 15 grams daily. It can be ingested as a tea, or used as a poultice. Some practitioners recommend pouring stellaria powder or juice into a large body of hot water for a medicinal bath.

What forms of stellaria are available?

Whole, dried stellaria root is available at some Asian markets and specialty stores. Powdered stellaria is also available. Stellaria root is often used as part of larger formulas to treat conditions that reduce or clear heat.

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

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with stellaria, nor are there any known side-effects from stellaria, provided it is taken in the proper dosage. As always, consult with a licensed health care provider before taking stellaria or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Brockhampton Press. Guide to Herbal Remedies. Brockhampton Press, London, 1996.
  • Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Tiger, Great Britain, 1994.
  • Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C (eds.) PDR for Herbal Medicines, second edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, 2000.
  • McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds.) American Herbal Products Association Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press, 1997.
  • Mills S. The Complete Guide to Modern Herbalism. Thorsons, Great Britain, 1994.

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