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Herbs & Botanicals

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Trichosanthes Root (Tian Hua Fen)

What is trichosanthes root? What is it used for?

Trichosanthes root is the root of the trichosanthes, or Chinese cucumber, which belongs to the curcurbitaceae family. The roots of the plant, which are white and tuberous, are usually dug up in autumn or winter and cleaned before being prepared. After cleaning, the root’s skin is peeled off, and the roots are cut into slices and dried in the sun before for use in herbal remedies.

Trichosanthes root contains a wide range of proteins, enzymes and amino acids, many of which have an anti-inflammatory effect. The root also contains a sugar compound consisting of glucose, fructose, cerebrose, mannose and xylose, which makes it an abundant source of calories.

In the context of traditional Chinese medicine, trichosanthes root has sweet, slightly bitter and slightly cold properties, and is associated with the Lung and Stomach meridians. Its functions are to clear lung heat, dissolve phlegm, relieve toxicity, and expel pus.

Trichosanthes root improves the function of the immune system. It helps promote the production of fluids in the body, and is especially helpful in treating conditions manifested by inflammations, such as sores, swelling, carbuncles and breast abscesses.

How much trichosanthes root should I take?

The typical dosage of trichosanthes root is 9-15 grams.

What forms of trichosanthes root are available?

Trichosanthes root is available whole (dried), or in pill or powder forms.

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

Large doses of trichosanthes root may lead to liver and/or kidney damage. Trichosanthes root has also been shown to cause miscarriages and spontaneous abortions. As such, it should never be taken by women who are (or suspect they may be) pregnant. Nor should it be taken by people with diarrhea or deficient spleens or stomachs.

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

References

  1. Shen R. Distinguishing the uses of related medicinals. RCHM News Spring 2001, pp. 13-15.
  2. Sionneau P. Dui Yao: The Art of Combining Medicinals. Boulder, Co: Blue Poppy Press, 1997.
  3. Yang Shou-zhong (translator). The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press, 1998.
  4. Yen K. Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei: SMC Publishing, Inc., 1992.
  5. Zhang Q. Compound Q: Trichosanthin and Its Clinical Applications. Long Beach, CA: Oriental Healing Arts Institute, 1990.

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