Herbs & Botanicals
Ligusticum (chuan xiong)
What is ligusticum? What is it used for?
Ligusticum is also known as the Chinese lovage, and is one of the most popular herbs in China and Korea, where it grows wild and has been cultivated for centuries. It is a perennial plant with hermaphrodite flowers that are pollinated by insects. The root and rhizomes are used for herbal remedies. In additional to its medicinal uses, ligusticum can be combined with certain foods and beverages as a flavor component, and to add fragrance to some soaps and cosmetics.
In traditional Chinese medicine, ligusticum has pungent and warm properties, and is associated with the Liver, Gallbladder and Pericardium meridians. Its main functions are to promote the flow of blood and qi, dispel wind, and relieve pain. Many practitioners prescribe it to treat irregular menstrual periods, dysmenorrhea, and headaches. It is also given to patients with inflammation caused by injuries, carbuncles and boils.
How much ligusticum should I take?
The recommended dose of ligusticum is 3-6 grams daily, taken as part of a decoction. Some practitioners recommend a higher maximum dose of up to 10 grams per day. When used as a powder, a lower dose (1-1.5 grams) is administered.
What forms of ligusticum are available?
Ligusticum is available as a powder or pill, and is occasionally combined with water as part of a decoction.
What can happen if I take too much lugisticum? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?
Ligusticum should not be taken by patients with menorrhagia (abnormally heavy menstrual flow) or headaches caused by excessive fire due to yin deficiency. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with ligusticum or cases of adverse effects due to high ligusticum intake. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking ligusticum or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.
- Editorial Committee of Chinese Materia Medica. State Drug Administration of China. Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai: Science and Technolgy Press, 1998.
- Cheng JX, et al. Journal of Practical Integrated Medicine 1993;6(5):261.
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- Zhao ZB, et al. Sichuan Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 1993;11(11):13.