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Platycodon (jie geng)

What is platycodon? What is it used for?

Platycodon is a perennial plant that grows to a height of about three feet. Also known as bell-flower or balloon-flower, platycodon is indigenous to China, Japan, Korea and Siberia. The plant is characterized by its flower buds which, when unopened, resemble small, inflated balloons. The main and secondary roots are used medicinally.

The healing effects of platycodon are derived from its volatile oil and other compounds, including saponins and plant sterols. Traditionally, platycodon has been used as an expectorant and to treat bronchitis, tonsillitis, sore throat and other respiratory conditions. Scientific tests have shown that the saponins may contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties; however, its efficacy in treating respiratory conditions has not been proven.

How much platycodon should I take?

Many herbalists and health care practitioners recommend a total of six grams of platycodon powder a day (0.5 grams as a single dose). Patients may also take one gram of a platycodon decoction (0.2 grams as a single dose).

What forms of platycodon are available?

Platycodon is available in a variety of forms, including whole platycodon root, cut root and powdered root. Some stores also sell platycodon decoctions.

What can happen if I take too much platycodon? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

When administered in the recommended dosage, there are no known health hazards in conjunction with platycodon. In addition, as of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with platycodon. Before taking platycodon supplements, however, be sure to discuss the situation with a qualified health care practitioner.

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  • Bensky D, et al. Formulas & Strategies (Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica). Eastland Press, 1993, p. 138.
  • Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C (eds.) PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, 2000, p. 58-59.
  • Hansel R, Keller K, Rimpler H, et al. (eds.) Hagers der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, 5 Aufl Bde 4-6. Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, 1992-94.
  • Kim KS, Ezaki O, Ikemoto S, et al. Effects of platycodon grandiflorum feeding on serum and liver lipid concentrations in rats with diet-induced hyperlipidemia. Yakugaku Zasshi Aug 1995;41:485-91.
  • Kim KS, Ezaki O, Ikemoto S, et al. Rat plasma corticosterone secretion-inducing activities of total saponin and prosapogenin methyl esters from the roots of platycodon grandiflorum ADC. Yakugaku Zasshi Aug 1995;41:1191-4.


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