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Friday, July 06, 2007

Bell Flower for Coughs, also as Vegetable

Jiegeng is the root of Platycodon grandiflorum. It is also called balloon flower and Chinese bell flower, of the bell flower family. It has a documented use history of close to 2000 years, being first recorded in the Shennong Ben Cao Jing or Shennong Herbal (circa 200 B.C. to 100 A.D). It is most well known for its expectorant and antitussive properties. The herb is commonly used in colds and flus, sore throat, bronchitis, cough with much phlegm, hoarseness of voice, and suppuration. It is a major ingredient in many anti-cough medicines. When ingested orally, at normal doses (3-10 g), it seldom causes any toxic side effects. At elevated doses, however, one may occasionally experience nausea and vomiting, and low blood pressure. Jiegeng contains saponins (platycodin A, C, D, D2 and polygalacin D, D2, etc.), polysaccharides (inulin, platycodonin, etc.), triterpenes (platycogenic acid A, B, C), sterols, sterol glycosides, and others. The saponins have been the most studied, which exhibit various pharmacological activities, including antitussive, expectorant, hypoglycemic, diuretic, anti-ulcer, hemolytic, local irritant, sedative, analgesic, antifebrile, anti-allergergic, corticosterone secretion, and vasodilation.

Earlier in the same issue, I wrote about a discovery on a business trip to China - finding jiegeng being prepared fresh and served as a vegetable:
During lunch in the village near the growing areas, I again learned something new. One of the dishes served was fresh jiegeng (Platycodon grandiflorum root). It tastes like a crunchy and firm root vegetable and not unpleasant. I always knew jiegeng to be an excellent expectorant and antitussive, but I never knew it is commonly eaten as a vegetable in northeastern China.

These and more herbal remedies are available from the volumes of Dr. Leung’s newsletter, of the same name as this blog ( Leung’s Chinese Herb News). This newsletter was published and sent to subscribers (most were industry-insiders) from 1996 to 2004. The collected works now serve as an excellent reference work, created with Dr. Leung’s frank, honest opinions and down-to-earth communication style.

For more information about Dr. Leung and his writings, visit www.earthpower.com. To order the newsletter containing the remedies mentioned above, visit the bookstore, click “Buy Now” on the newsletter, and select Issue # 11 from the drop down list.

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