Chuanxiong belongs to the list of 50 fundamental herbs in the traditional herbal medicine of China. At the same time, it looks like there are some inconsistencies as for the name of the plant in the Western science. The latter names this herb Ligusticum Chuanxiong Hort, Szechuan lovage or simply Lovage, Cnidium, Ligusticum wallichii and Levisticum officinale. It is not clear whether it is correct to use all these names referring to the same plant.
Anyway, the herb under description belongs to the carrot family (Apiaceae or Umbelliferae in Latin). This family embraces many species, which have much in common and are characterized with only minor differences in the looks.
Chuanxiong is a perennial herb with massive fist-like rhizomes of brown colour and irregular shape. Its erect stems are quite thin and tender, but they can reach the height of about 1 meter. The leaves resemble those of a carrot or parsley: feathery pinnate with multiple leaflets. The small flowers, gathered in umbels, bloom from July to August and are pollinated by insects.
Chuanxiong is native to East Asia. These days it is mainly cultivated in Sichuan province in China and in Japan for medicinal purposes. The plant requires full sun and much moisture. However, it is said to be able to tolerate well colder climatic conditions.
The dried and sliced rhizome of Chuanxiong is used medicinally. It is usually reaped in late spring or in summer if a plant is two years old.
The dried and sliced root, powder of the root, tablets and capsules, as well as root oil are available on the market.
The main active ingredients, responsible for the health benefits of Chuanxiong are ligustilide, ligustrazine, and ferulic acid. Other beneficial chemicals are chuanxiongzine,chuanxiongol, butylidene phthalide and different acids (sedanic, vanillic, sedanonic, folic acids, etc).
Ligustilide and butylidene phthalide have antifungal activities. Phytochemicals in the root of Chuanxiong (e.g. vanillin, spathulenol, alfa-pinene, beta-pinene, myrecene, limonene and ferulic acid) may have a number of actions in the human body. They are supposed to work as anti-inflammatory agents, anticancer means, antiviral and antibacterial options.
Ligustrazine is another component of the plant’s root, which is now under the scope of modern research, since this chemical may slow down the process of renal failure, improve blood circulation, and may be beneficial for the kidneys, lungs, and brain. It is also stated that the remedies of the plant act on liver, gallbladder, and pericardium.
One of the most valuable properties (besides blood circulation improvement) of Chuanxiong is pain killing; thus, it may be used as the option to relieve pain of different origin and due to various conditions.
The most frequent use of Chuanxiong is connected with the necessity to improve blood circulation in patient; thus, such conditions as irregular menstruation, amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea are treated with the root of this plant. It has recently been researched and showed good results at treating coronary angina pectoris. In general, many cardiovascular conditions respond well to the treatment with Chuanxiong.
Abdominal pain, pain due to injuries, headache, vertigo, rheumatism and numbness in the legs are for centuries effectively relieved with Chuanxiong.
Most often Ligusticum Chuanxiong Hort is combined with other medicinal herbs. The combination depends on the disorder treated and the symptoms necessary to alleviate. The most frequent combinations include Lovage and Angelica root, Red peony root, Motherwort, Peach kernel, Cyperus tuber, Achyranthes root, Bupleurum, Chrysanthemum flower, Rehmannia root and many others. The combination often includes several of the named plants, that is why it is best to consult an experienced herbalist before starting the treatment with Chuanxiong root to be sure to use the most appropriate in a particular case combination of herbs.
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