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Red Atractylodes (cang zhu)
What is red atractylodes? What is
it used for?
Red atractylodes is an aromatic herb found throughout Asia,
especially China. The plant consists of a tall, thin wooden
stem, with serrated leaves that have small, hairlike projections
at the end. The rhizome is used medicinally.
The main active ingredients of red atractylodes are essential
oils, which comprise approximately five percent of the dried
rhizome. The principal constituent is beta-eudesmol; other
components include hinesol, elemol, atractylodin, selinene
and furaldehyde. The pharmacology of red atractyldoes' essential
oil has not been documented fully, but reports indicate that
it is effective in treating pruritis, urticaria, dermatitis
In traditional Chinese medicine, the main uses of red atractylodes
are treatment of digestive system disorders and arthralgia.
It is utilized to dry dampness of the spleen and stomach,
expel wind-cold dampness, and strengthen the spleen.
How much red atractylodes should
Many practitioners recommend taking between 4.5-9 grams of
red atractylodes daily, or as needed. Quality atractylodes
root should be large, solid and aromatic.
What forms of red atractylodes are
In addition to fresh herb, red atractylodes is available
as a tea, tincture, extract or powder. The powdered form of
the herb is often used with other herbs to make herbal formulas.
What can happen if I take too much
red atractylodes? Are there any interactions I should be aware
of? What precautions should I take?
Red atractylodes has been given a class I safety rating by
the American Herbal Products Association, meaning that it
can be consumed safely when taken in appropriate doses. As
of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with
white atractylodes. As always, make sure to consult with a
qualified health care provider before taking atractylodes
or any herbal product or dietary supplement.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
- Li L. Practical Traditional Chinese
Dermatology. Hong Kong: Hai Feng Publishing Company,
- Sionneau P, Dui Y. The Art of Combining
Chinese Medicinals. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press, 1997.
- Tang W, Eisenbrand G. Chinese Drugs
of Plant Origin. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1992.
- Zhu Y. Chinese Materia Medica: Chemistry,
Pharmacology, and Applications. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic
- Yan W, Fischer W. Practical Therapeutics
of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm