Bupleurum (Bupleurum falcatum)
Also known as Chinese Thoroughwax, bupleurum is one of the most important herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. Native to East Asia, it tends to grow in patches in sunny thickets up to about a foot tall (30cm). This plant is related to dill, but the leaves are not lacy like dill. The plant blooms in the fall with yellow flowers. Usually grown from seed, it doesn't like cold weather at all and needs well drained soil for best results.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Bupleurum has traditionally been used in herbal remedies to treat fever, reduce inflammation, angina, nausea, vomiting and to promote blood circulation. This herb also helps lymphatic congestion, poor digestion, chronic or hidden infections and chronic inflammation. It reduces inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandin production. It can build your platelet count, can detoxify your liver and help with hepatitis.
Bupleurum is also used for enlarged liver and spleen, to repair chemical liver damage, liver stasis or congestion, depression and to regulate menstruation. Various blends of the herb are used to treat colds, chest pains, as well as anal, uterine and organ prolapse. Some people take bupleurum to help with epilepsy, cirrhosis of the liver and HIV infection. It can also aid flu, fatigue, cough, headache, tinnitus, cancer, malaria, asthma, ulcers and constipation. It is a sedative, antioxidant, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal herb that stimulates the immune system.
Externally Bupleurum can be applied topically to reduce heat in the skin. It can also be used to treat hemorrhoids.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Like many Chinese herbs, this herb is usually used in combination with others to fit a patient's symptoms exactly. One sample combination would be with wormwood, schisandra, ginger, dan shen and other extracts to treat irritable bowel syndrome. It can also be combined with Panax ginseng and licorice to stimulate the adrenal glands. Particular good for children's digestive complaints is a combination known as Minor-Bupleurum in traditional Chinese medicine.
Root The root of bupleurum is harvested in either the spring or autumn to be dried in the sun before being cut into small pieces for us.
Normal doses are safe, but in excessive amounts it may cause diarrhea or dizziness. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take this herb, and neither should people with high blood pressure. Do not use if you are taking interferon for hepatitis. Don't take it simultaneously with antibiotics or with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) without the permission of your doctor. Extensive use may cause colic, diarrhea or gastroenteritis.
Preparation and Dosage
Bupleurum dosage will depend on what ailment is being treated. Generally, a decoction can be made from 1.5 grams of dried root or you can take 3 to 12 ml of an extract. For capsules, 2 can be taken three times per day with water. Be sure to take them at mealtime.