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Gambir (gou teng)
What is gambir? What is it used for?
Gambir is a woody, climbing shrub native to China and other
parts of southeast Asia. The plant consists of a thin, wooden
stem that is reddish-brown in color, with broad green leaves.
Most of the stem branches also have hook-like appendages,
which the plant uses to attach itself to a surface. The medicinal
part of gambir is a watery extract, which is taken from the
plant's leaves and young shoots. The main ingredients in the
extract are tannins and catechins.
Gambir acts mainly as a sedative; it dilates peripheral blood
vessels and lowers blood pressure. It is also used to treat
hypertension, dizziness and anxiety. In traditional Chinese
medicine, gambir is used to calm wind to relieve convulsions;
calm the liver; and remove (or clear away) heat.
How much gambir should I take?
Gambir decoctions are usually given in a dosage of 3-12 grams.
What forms of gambir are available?
Gambir is most readily available as an extract, which can
be found at specialty stores and Asian markets. The extract
is made using the plants leaves and younger shoots.
What can happen if I take too much
gambir? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What
precautions should I take?
Excess amounts of gambir have been known to cause diarrhea,
kidney damage, swollen feet and nausea. Because the herb acts
as a sedative, it may enhance the effects of anesthesia. The
high tannin and catechin content of gambir can irritate the
stomach and cause gastrointestinal pain. As a result, long-term
and/or excessive use of herbs that contain tannins (such as
gambir) is not recommended. As always, make sure to consult
with a qualified health care practitioner before taking gambir
or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
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