Lu Lu Tong (Liquidambaris Fructus)

What Is Lu Lu Tong

Lu Lu Tong commonly known as Liquidambaris Fructus is the infructescences of Liquidambar formosana, which is a large and deciduous tree belonging to the family Hamamelidaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Ben Cao Gang Mu Shi Yi> (a supplement to the compendium of materia medica) in the 30th year of Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1,765 AD).

There are 15 species of Liquidambar, which are mainly distributed in Southeast Asia and East Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, and eastern North America. Currently, a small number of them have been introduced into Italy, Spain, Belgium, and New York.

They have a certain economic and ornamental value. Their wood can be crafted into furniture, pulp materials, and baskets. They are usually grown in gardens in temperate and subtropical climates.

Liquidambar formosana is also known as Chinese Sweetgum or Formosan Sweetgum. They are three-lobed, unlike five-lobed to seven-lobed leaves of most American Liquidambar species.

Liquidambar formosana

This plant likes light and is often planted in weakly acidic sandy loam near water sources, with deep soil layers, loose soil, and relatively fertile soil. They often grow in the flats, villages, and secondary forests in the low mountains. They are distributed in China, Laos, Vietnam, and Korea.

After the fruits of the Liquidambar formosana mature every winter, people gather their infructescences, remove impurities, dry them, and make them into Chinese herbal medicine.

Lu Lu Tong contains betulonic acid, liquidambaric lactone, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, daucosterol, gallic acid, benzaldehyde, β-thujene, leaf alcohol, β-terpinene, α-thujene, α-pinene, β-pinene, amphene, α-terpinene, α-terpinol, citrene, γ-terpinene, terpinolene, thymol, α-terpinene, geraniol, carvacrol, caryophyllene oxide, γ-eudesmol, isophytol, elemene, eicosane, and polyterpenes.

Generally, gray-brown or tan Lu Lu Tong with many beak-shaped small blunt spines and sharp spines on the surface is preferred.

According to <Ben Cao Gang Mu Shi Yi>, the medicinal nature of Lu Lu Tong is relatively neutral, with a bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver, and kidney meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to expel wind and activate collaterals, promote urination and menstruation, and treat rheumatic arthralgia, numbness of limbs, muscular spasms, stroke, hemiplegia, traumatic injuries, edema, scanty menstruation, amenorrhea, primary dysmenorrhea, female genitalia pruritus, hypogalactia, distending pain of the breast, rubella, urticaria, allergic rhinitis, calculus of the ureter, senile low back and leg pain, vascular dementia, and diabetic lower limb arteriosclerosis obliterans.

There are about 50 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Er Long Tong Qiao Pian, Sheng Ru Pian, and Xin Yi Hao Pian.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting carrageenan-induced swelling of mouse paws.
  • Reducing acetic acid-induced hyperpermeability of peritoneal capillaries in mice, and reducing the number of writhing in mice caused by acetic acid.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging superoxide anion free radicals, DPPH free radicals, hydroxyl free radicals, and inhibiting lipid oxidation.
  • Inhibiting influenza A virus, herpes simplex virus type 1, and ECHO6 virus.
  • Reducing CCL4-induced liver damage and protecting the liver.
  • Expelling wind and dampness, treating rheumatic arthralgia, numbness of limbs, muscular spasms.
  • Treating stroke and hemiplegia caused by stagnation of qi and blood.
  • Activating meridians, dissipating blood stasis and relieving pain, and treating traumatic injuries and pain caused by ecchymoma.
  • Promoting urination and treating edema and abdominal flatulence.
  • Soothing liver and regulating qi, treating scanty menstruation, amenorrhea, and distending pain in the lower abdomen caused by stagnation of qi and blood stasis.
  • Promoting lactation, and treating galactostasis, distending pain in the breast, and hypogalactia.
  • Dispelling wind and relieving itching caused by rubella.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of gastric cancer cells MGC-803, prostate cancer cells PC3, breast cancer cells Bcap-37, melanoma A375, and breast cancer cells MCF-7.
  • Its volatile oil has a certain inhibitory effect on Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Aspergillus flavus, Penicillium, and Escherichia coli.
  • Studies have found that it can regulate AKT/ERK signaling pathway, down-regulate matrix metalloproteinase-1 and metalloproteinase-3, up-regulate tissue metalloproteinase inhibitor-1, inhibit collagen deposition and angiogenesis, thereby inhibiting excessive proliferation, migration, and invasion of dermal fibroblasts.


  • It can be used in combination with Huang Qi (Radix Astragali), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), Hong Hua (Flos Carthami), etc. to treat stroke and hemiplegia caused by stagnation of qi and blood.
  • It can be used in combination with Fu Ling (Poria), Zhu Ling (Polyporus), Ze Xie (Rhizoma Alismatis), etc. to treat edema and abdominal flatulence.
  • It can be used in combination with Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), Chong Wei Zi (Fructus Leonuri), etc. to treat scanty menstruation, amenorrhea, and distending pain in the lower abdomen caused by stagnation of qi and blood stasis.
  • It can be used in combination with Chuan Shan Jia (Squama Manitis), Wang Bu Liu Xing (Semen Vaccariae), Qing Pi (Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium Viride), etc. to treat galactostasis, distending pain in the breast, and hypogalactia.
  • It can be used in combination with Di Fu Zi (Kochiae Fructus), Bai Ji Li (Fructus Tribuli), and Ku Shen (Radix Sophorae Flavescentis), etc. to treat itching caused by rubella.

Side Effects

  • At present, there are no reports in the literature that Lu Lu Tong has toxic effects, and there are no reports of serious adverse reactions when it is taken according to the prescribed dose.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Lu Lu Tong should be controlled at 5-9g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, lotions, or calcined and powdered for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Lu Lu Tong should not take it.
  • Patients with metrorrhagia due to asthenia-cold should not take it.
  • Women with heavy menstrual periods should not take it.
  • Pregnant women should not take it.
  • Breastfeeding women should take it under the guidance of a doctor.
  • Children, the elderly, and the infirm should take it under the guidance of a doctor.