Niu Xi (Achyranthes Bidentata)

Botanical Name: Achyranthes bidentata
Family : Amaranthaceae
Common Name:  Oxknee
Other Common Names: Niu Hsi, Niu Hsi Chiu, Pig’s Knee, Soei In Soei
Genus: Achyranthes

Habitat : Native:
•AFRICA: West-Central Tropical Africa: Cameroon; Equatorial Guinea
West Tropical Africa: Nigeria
•ASIA-TEMPERATE :Russian Far East: Russian Federation – Primorye
China: China – Anhui, Fujian, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Zhejiang
Eastern Asia: Japan – Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku; Korea; Taiwan
•ASIA-TROPICAL :  Indian Subcontinent: Bhutan; India; Nepal; Pakistan; Sri Lanka Indo-China: Laos; Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam
Malesia: Indonesia; Malaysia; Papua New Guinea; Philippines

Mostly available at the Forest edges, the sides of streams and shrubberies. Moist shady places at elevations of 1200 – 3000 metres in Nepal

Description:
ACHYRANTHES BIDENTATA (Niu xi, Achyranthes) Traditional Chinese perinial herb.Height: 60-90 cm. It is hardy to zone 8. It is in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).  Achyranthes is an erect perennial with slender rambling branches, elliptical leaves, and greenish white flowers on terminal spikes. Grows up to 1m tall.
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Cultivation :
Prefers a rich, sandy, slightly acid soil in partial shade . This species is probably not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to at least -5 °c. When grown in a rich soil the roots can be up to 1.2 metres long. Widely cultivated in China, especially in Henan Province, as a medicinal plant  and as a food plant.

Propagation:
Seed – sow late spring in a greenhouse. Germination should be fairly rapid, prick out the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich soil when they are large enough to handle. It is probably wise to grow this plant on in the greenhouse for its first winter, planting it out into its permanent position in late spring after the last expected frosts.

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Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.
Seed – cooked. A good substitute for cereal grains in bread-making, they have often been used for this purpose in famine years . The light brown oblong seed is about 1mm long. Leaves – cooked. Used as a vegetable in the same manner as spinach.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses:
Anodyne; Antiasthmatic; Antiinflammatory; Antirheumatic; Bitter; Digestive; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Odontalgic; Vasodilator.
The roots, leaves and stems are widely used in Chinese herbal medicine. The roots contain triterpenoid saponins, sitosterol and sigmastero. They are anodyne, antiinflammatory, antirheumatic, bitter, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue and vasodilator. They act predominantly on the lower half of  the body and are used in the treatment of aching back and knees and asthenia of the lower limbs. Research suggests that they can cause dilation of the cervix and so this herb should not be used when pregnant. The herb is taken internally to treat hypertension, back pains, urine in the blood, menstrual pain, bleeding etc. It lowers blood cholesterol levrels and so is used in the treatment of atherosclerosis . The root juice is used in Nepal in the treatment of toothache . This juice is also used in the treatment of indigestion and is considered to be a good treatment for asthma . The stem of the plant is used as a toothbrush that is said to be good for the teeth and is also a treatment for pyorrhoea  . The plant can be used fresh or dried. The leaves and stems are harvested in the summer and are usually crushed for their juice or used in tinctures . The roots are harvested from 1 or 2 year old plants in the autumn or winter and usually dried and ground into a powder or used in decoctions.

Mostly used to nourish the kidney and liver, drain ‘dampness’ and promote circulation. Prescribed for difficult urination, painful urethritis, suppressed menstruation. Commonly used to treat traumatic injuries, stiffness and pain of the lower back and loins and for weakness in the legs and feet. Do not use during pregnancy.

Other Uses
Insecticide; Teeth.
Two insect-moulting hormones are found in the roots[174]. Can this have a practical application as an insecticide? The stem of the plant is used as a toothbrush that is said to be good for the teeth and is also a treatment for pyorrhoea.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Achyranthes+bidentata
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Achyranthes_bidentata
http://www.sandmountainherbs.com/oxknee.html

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/hort/herbs/achyra.htm#des

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