Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri or Chinese Thorowax Root)

What Is Chai Hu

Chai Hu also known as Radix Bupleuri or Chinese Thorowax Root is the root of Bupleurum chinense or Bupleurum scorzonerifolium, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Umbelliferae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

There are about 120 species of Bupleurum, which are mainly distributed in tropical regions of the northern hemisphere. This genus is usually perennial, with only a few plants being annual. There are about 20 types of Bupleurum for medicinal use. The most representative ones are Bupleurum chinense and Bupleurum scorzonerifolium.

Bupleurum chinense likes a warm and humid climate. They grow well in deep, fertile sandy loam soil. They often grow on sunny hillsides, forest edges, grass, and roadsides. They are distributed in the northeast, north, northwest, east, and central regions of China.

Bupleurum angustifolia often grows on sunny hillsides, bushes, or forest edges at an altitude of 160-2,250 meters.
They can be found in northern China, Russia, Mongolia, North Korea, and Japan.

Bupleurum chinense

In spring and autumn, people gather the roots of Bupleurum chinense or Bupleurum scorzonerifolium, remove the sediment and their stems and leaves, dry them, cut them into sections, use them directly, or stir-fry them with vinegar, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Chai Hu contains saikosaponin A, saikosaponin B, saikosaponin C, saikosaponin D, bupleurumol, rutin, isorhamnetin, kaempferitrin, kaempferol, quercetin, baicalin, narcissin, cacticin, daidzin, mannose, xylose, galactose, rhamnose, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, a-spinachsterol, oumarin, volatile oils, polyacetylenes, tryptophan, xylitol, uridine, adenosine, lignans, and some trace elements.

Generally, the soft Chai Hu with a fragrance is preferred.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Chai Hu is slightly cold, with a pungent and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of liver and gall bladder meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to relieve exterior symptoms and abate heat, soothe liver qi for relieving qi stagnation, elevate yang and treat colds, flu, upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, coronary heart disease, hyperlipidemia, Meniere syndrome, functional edema, peptic ulcer, viral hepatitis, alcoholic fatty liver, acute cholecystitis, chronic cholecystitis, pancreatitis, epilepsy, malaria, chronic fatigue syndrome, schizophrenia, menstrual cough, flat warts, and herpes simplex virus Keratitis, mumps.

There are about 300 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Xiao Chai Hu Tang, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan, and Xiao Yao Wan.

Benefits

  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced mouse ear swelling and carrageenan-induced rat foot swelling.
  • Anti-oxidation, reducing the content of reactive oxygen species and malondialdehyde, enhancing the activity of superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase.
  • Raising the pain threshold and inhibiting the pain caused by the hot plate experiment and acetic acid experiment in mice.
  • Inhibiting influenza virus, herpes simplex virus, and hepatitis B virus.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of liver cancer HepG2 cells and lung cancer A549 cells.
  • Reducing the body temperature of dry yeast-induced pyretic rats.
  • Reducing liver damage caused by acetaminophen or alcohol and protecting the liver.
  • Reducing the content of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in hyperlipidemia rats, and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • Increasing lymphocyte transformation rate and inhibiting delayed-type allergy in mice.
  • Antagonizing central nervous system excitement in mice caused by methamphetamine, caffeine, or methamphetamine.
  • Reducing AChE activity, inhibiting ChAT protein expression and cholinergic nerves in the hippocampus of the brain, increasing serotonin hormone content, and antagonizing depression.
  • Reducing the activity of adenylate cyclase, inhibiting gastric acid secretion, and antagonizing gastric ulcers.
  • Relieving exterior symptoms, treating fever and headache caused by wind-heat or wind-cold.
  • Treating bitter taste in the mouth, dry throat, dizziness, alternating spells of fever and chills, fullness and discomfort in chest and hypochondrium caused by Shaoyang diseases.
  • Soothing liver qi for relieving qi stagnation, treating distending pain of the lower abdomen, depression, menstrual disorders, and dysmenorrhea caused by stagnation of qi activity.
  • Treating women with irregular menstruation, breast tenderness, lateral thorax pain, fatigue, and loss of appetite caused by liver qi stagnation and blood deficiency.
  • Sending up the lucid yang, treating the lack of food accompanied by abdominal distension, chronic diarrhea, uterine prolapse, kidney ptosis, and fatigue caused by deficiency of qi in middle-jiao.
  • Its total saponins cooperate with cyclohexylbarbital can prolong the sleep time of experimental mice.
  • Its decoction has a certain inhibitory effect on hemolytic Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus, Vibrio cholerae, Leptospira, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  • Studies have confirmed that saikosaponin D can improve the renal function of Heymann nephritis rats and treat senile membranous nephritis.

Combinations

  • It can be used in combination with Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae) and Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens) to treat fever, aversion to cold, and head and body pain caused by wind-cold
  • It can be used in combination with Ju Hua (Flos Chrysanthemi), Bo He (Mentha), and Sheng Ma (Rhizoma Cimicifugae) to treat fever and headache caused by wind-heat.
  • It can be used in combination with Xiang Fu (Rhizoma Cyperi), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), and Bai Shao (White Peony Root) to treat distending pain of the lower abdomen, depression, menstrual disorders, and dysmenorrhea caused by stagnation of qi activity.
  • It can be used in combination with Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Bai Shao (White Peony Root), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), and Fu Ling (Poria) to treat women with irregular menstruation, breast tenderness, lateral thorax pain, fatigue and loss of appetite caused by liver qi stagnation and blood deficiency.
  • It can be used in combination with Ren Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Ginseng), Huang Qi (Radix Astragali), and Sheng Ma (Rhizoma Cimicifugae) to treat the lack of food accompanied by abdominal distension, chronic diarrhea, uterine prolapse, kidney ptosis, and fatigue caused by deficiency of qi in middle-jiao.

Side Effects

Animal experiments show that Bupleurum is toxic, but the toxicity is very small.

A small number of people taking it may cause allergic reactions such as rashes and itching.

Studies have confirmed that its injection may cause skin rash or shock.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Chai Hu should be controlled at 3-9g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, or injections.
  • People who are allergic to Chai Hu should not take it.
  • You should not take nourishing Chinese medicine during the medication.
  • People with hyperactivity of yang due to yin deficiency should not take it.
  • People with a disturbance of liver-wind should not take it.
  • People with hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency should not take it.
  • People with an adverse flow of qi should not take it.
  • Children, the elderly, and the infirm should take it under the guidance of a doctor.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take it.
  • The unprocessed Chai Hu is often used to relieve exterior symptoms and abate heat, and stir-fried Chai Hu with vinegar is often used to soothe liver qi for relieving qi stagnation.