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Pinellia (ban xia)
What is pinellia? What is it used
Pinellia is a small, stem-like plant native to southern China
and Japan. The aboveground part of the plant resembles a horn,
with a long, green protuberance that extends outward from
the center of the horn. The medicinal part of the plant is
its root, or tuber, which is smooth and has a whitish or yellowish
outer surface. Pinellia tubers are dug up in the summer and
autumn and peeled open before being allowed to dry.
While unprepared pinellia is used externally to treat skin
sores, carbuncles and swelling, pinellia root is usually taken
in combination with other herbs for different conditions.
It is used in combination with alum (usually in a 5:1 pinellia
to alum ratio) for damp phlegm conditions; with ginger and
alum to treat nausea and vomiting; or with glycyrrhiza to
treat dampness and regulate the stomach.
How much pinellia should I take?
Internally, the recommended dose of pinellia is 3-9 grams
used in a decoction. For skin conditions, most practitioners
recommend pinellia be administered externally by incorporating
it into a juice or grinding the root into a powder and applying
What forms of pinellia are available?
Whole, dried pinellia root is available at Asian markets.
Pinellia extracts, pills and powders can be found at some
What can happen if I take too much
pinellia? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Because pinellia is warm and dry in nature, it should not
be used by patients with a dry cough due to yin deficiency
or blood disorders. As the herb is also slightly toxic, it
should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care
professional before taking pinellia or any other dietary supplement
or herbal product.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
- Bensky D, et al. Formulas & Strategies
(Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica) Eastland Press,
1993, p. 432.
- Kurata K, et al., Quantitative analysis
of anti-emetic principle in the tubers of pinellia ternata
by enzyme immunoassay. Planta Medica 1998;64(7):645-648.
- State Administration of Traditional Chinese
Medicine. Advanced Textbook on Traditional Chinese Medicine
and Pharmacology. Beijing: New World Press, 1995-6.
- Wu H, et al. Orthogonal experiment design
in the optimization of processing technology for pinellia
by ginger and alum. Journal of Chinese Traditional Drugs
- Yeung HC. Handbook of Chinese Herbal
Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine 1996, p. 84.