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Herbs & Botanicals

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Windmill Palm (zong lu pi/tan)

What is windmill palm? What is it used for?

The windmill palm is a type of palm tree also known as the trachycarpus, which has long, needle-shaped leaves. The fiber of the palm (actually, the fibrous sheath of the palm leaf) is traditionally gathered during the winter solstice, then carbonized before being used in herbal remedies.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, carbonized windmill palm has bitter and neutral properties, and is associated with the Lung, Liver and Large Intestine meridians. Its main function is to stop bleeding; it is used to treat a variety of hemorrhagic conditions, including coughing (accompanied by blood), vomiting (accompanied by blood), bloody stools, and bleeding from the uterus. It is often used with herbs such as white atractylodes, imperata and Japanese thistle in larger formulas.

How much windmill palm should I take?

The typical dose of carbonized windmill palm is between 6 and 10 grams, decocted in water for oral administration. Smaller doses (1-1.5 grams) can be taken if the palm fiber is powdered.

What forms of windmill palm are available?

Slices or whole pieces of carbonized windmill palm fiber can be found at some select Asian markets and herbal shops. It is also available as a pill or capsule, and is found as an ingredient in some herbal formulas.

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

Windmill palm is considered relatively safe. As of this writing, there are no known adverse side-effects or drug interactions associated with taking large amounts of the herb. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking carbonized windmill palm or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Mabberley DJ. The Plant Book: A Portable Dictionary of the Vascular Plants, 2nd edition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Sun L, Wang Q. Effect of different processing methods on five kinds of chemical compounds in trachycarpus fortunei H. Wendl. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi October 1995;20(10):595-7, 638.
  • Wang Q, Sun L, Gou C, et al. Exploration of the changes in processing methods of trachycarpus wagneranus. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi November 1991;16(11):695-8.
  • Wang Z, et al. A New Latin, Chinese, English Botanical Nomenclature. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Botany. Beijing: Aviation Industry Publisher, 1996.
  • Xie Z, Yu Y (eds.) Materia Medica, Chinese Terminology, vol. 1. Beijing: Renminweisheng Publishing House, 1996.

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