Botanical Name: Bupleurum chinense
Species: B. chinense
Common Names: Bei Chai Hu, Pinyin
Habitat: Bupleurum chinense is native to E. Asia – China, Korea. It grows on grassy areas on hills and mountain slopes in Korea. Grasslands, stream banks, sunny slopes and roadsides at elevations of 100 – 2700 metres in China.
Bupleurum chinense is a herbaceous, perennial plant producing one to several much-branched stems from a stout, woody rootstock; it can grow 50 – 85cm tall.
This species is one of two primary species the roots of which are used for the major traditional Chinese medicine ‘chai hu’ The plant is commonly harvested from the wild for this purpose and is also often cultivated. The plant also has edible uses.
An easily cultivated plant. it succeeds in a sunny position in most fertile well-drained soils.
This species is closely related to Bupleurum falcatum, and is included in that species by some botanists.
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 8 weeks at 15°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer or following spring.
Division in spring. Very easy, larger clumps can be planted direct into their permanent positions. It is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are well rooted before planting them out in the summer.
Leaves and young shoots – cooked.The new growth in spring and autumn is used. It is a good source of rutin. Root – cooked. A famine food, used when all else fails.
Bupleurum chinense root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years. It is a bitter herb that is used to harmonize the body, balancing the different organs and energies within the body. It strengthens the digestive tract, acts as a tonic for the liver and circulatory system, lowers fevers and has anti-viral effects.
The root is alterative, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, antipyretic, antiviral, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, haemolytic, hepatic, pectoral, sedative. It is taken internally in the treatment of malaria, blackwater fever, uterine and rectal prolapse, haemorrhoids, sluggish liver, menstrual disorders, abdominal bloating etc. The roots are harvested in the autumn and can be used fresh or dried.
The root contains saikosides. These saponin-like substances have been shown to protect the liver from toxicity whilst also strengthening its function, even in people with immune system disorders. These saikosides also stimulate the body’s production of corticosteroids and increase their anti-inflammatory affect.
The plant is often used in preparations with other herbs to treat the side effects of steroids.
The root of B. chinense, known as Radix Bupleuri, is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Its proposed use is to strengthen the liver.
There is no good evidence that Chinese herbal medicines, including those derived from B. chinense, are of any benefit in treating fatty liver disease, and the safety of these drugs is unknown.
Other Uses: The old plant is used as a fuel.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.