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Anemarrhena (zhi mu)
What is anemarrhena? What is it used
Anemarrhena is a small, ornamental plant native
to northern China. A member of the lily family, anemarrhena
is a decorative plant, with grasslike leaves and branches
and fragrant-smelling flowers that open at night. The root,
or rhizome, is used medicinally, and is often dried for use
Anemarrhena has been used as a staple of traditional
Chinese medicine for centuries; its first recorded use dates
back to 200 BC. Internally, it is used for a variety of disorders,
including congestive fever, high fever, chronic bronchitis,
excessive sweating, dry throat, cough, dizziness, lumbago
and pneumonia. Externally, it is used as part of a mouth wash
to treat oral ulcers. Extracts of the plant contain compounds
called saponins one of which, asphonin, can be used
to effectively treat lower back pain.
In traditional Chinese medicine, anemarrhena
purges heat, nurtures yin and relaxes tension. It is sometimes
mixed with other herbs, such as phellodendron, scrophularia
and Chinese foxglove.
How much anemarrhena should I take?
A typical dose of anemarrhena is between 6-12
grams of dried rhizome used in water as a decoction. Make
sure to check with a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner
for information on the appropriate dosages and any possible
What forms of anemarrhena are available?
Dried anemarrhena rhizomes can be found at some
Asian markets and specialty stores. Some herbal vendors also
sell powdered rhizome or anemarrhena extracts. Extracts are
usually combined with other substances as part of an herbal
What can happen if I don't get enough
anemarrhena? What can happen if I take too much? Are there
any side-effects I should be aware of?
Anemarrhena should not be used by patients that
have diarrhea or, in traditional Chinese medicine, spleen
deficiency. Large doses are reported to be toxic and may inhibit
heart action. Excess amounts may cause a sudden drop in blood
pressure. Make sure to check with a qualified Chinese medicine
practitioner before taking anemarrhena or any other herbal
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
- Beyerl P. The Master Book of Herbalism.
Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing Co., 1996.
- Dong JX, Han GY. Studies on the active
constituents of anemarrhena asphodeloides bunge. Yao
Xue Xue Bao 1992;27(1):26-32. Chinese.
- Hallowell M. Herbal Healing. Garden
City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1994.
- Meng ZY, Zhang JY, Xu SX, Sugahara K.
Steroidal saponins from anemarrhena asphodeloides and their
effects on superoxide generation. Planta Med 1999
- Ray DP, Ambrosino S. The Incredible Healing
Power of Herbs. Lantana, FL: Micro Mags, 1996.