Learn More About Dr. Leung's Research Philosophy

Dr. Leung says "My thinking has changed and I no longer trust research findings on botanicals unless... "
Click to read more about Dr. Leung's research philosophy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Baizhu is the dried rhizome of Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz. Baizhu is a qi tonic and a diuretic, and also has the properties of invigorating the spleen and calming the fetus. Traditional uses include treatment of indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, fluid retention, spontaneous perspiration, and restless fetus (excessive fetal movement). More modern uses include constipation, leukopenia, toxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Baizhu is often simply called "atractylodes" but that term can also apply to cangzhu, a related but distinctly different herb. Hence, baizhu products manufactured in America may in fact contain the wrong atractylodes. This is not surprising, as only in recent years have Chinese herbs become popular here, and many manufactures and herbalists are still not knowledgeable about them. They tend to treat them as Western herbs that are much simpler in their selection, collection, and initial treatment. Thus, like fo-ti, you are at the mercy of the manufacturers, who are often in turn at the mercy of their suppliers.

Like astragalus and ginseng, baizhu is one of the best known Chinese qi tonics. For over two thousand years, it has been safely used in soups and its extracts in cakes and specialty rices, to maintain and improve health. Chemical studies have shown baizhu to contain up to 1.4% of a volatile oil (much less than that in cangzhu - up to 9.0%), sesquiterpene lactones, acetylenes, polysaccharides and others. Scientists have also found various pharmacologic effects in baizhu extracts and in one or more of baizhu's chemical components. These effects include antiinflammatory, immunopotentiating, improving stamina, diuretic, hypoglycemic, liver protectant, anticoagulant and antitumor. Again, as with most modern studies on herbal tonics, none of their biological effects alone can account for baizhu's traditional tonic properties. Nevertheless, when considered together, they do seem to show some scientific justification for baizhu's traditional use to benefit our body when we are not in good health.

In recent years, baizhu has been effectively used in China in cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy along with other tonic herbs (licorice, astragalus, etc.) to counteract the toxic side effects of these harsh treatments.

Baizhu is also used in skin care cosmetics for treating dark spots and wrinkles on the face and hands.

Dr. Albert Leung’s book, Better Health with (mostly) Chinese Herbs and Food discusses the use of 60 different herbs as healing foods, including baizhu on page 7. For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit http://www.earthpower.com/.

No comments: