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A Chinese herb called thunder god vine works better than a widely-prescribed pharmaceutical drug at easing rheumatoid arthritis, a new study has found.
The herb has long been used in China to treat this potentially crippling autoimmune disease, which typically strikes hand and foot joints. It is known in Mandarin as ‘lei gong teng’ and to botanists as Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F.
Extracts of the herb have already fired the interest of drug laboratories as they contain hundreds of compounds, including intriguing molecules called diterpenoids which are believed to ease inflammation and immune response.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered that a natural constituent isolated from a traditional Chinese medicinal herb, Triptergium wilfordii Hook F. (雷公藤, Lei Gong Teng, Thunder God Vine), used for hundreds of years to treat many conditions, works well by blocking gene control machinery in the cell. Thunder God Vine (Lei Gong Teng) is regarded as toxic and used externally to treat rheumatoid arthritis and sciatica. This report, published as a cover story of the March issue of Nature Chemical Biology, suggests that the natural constituent could be a starting point for developing new anti-cancer drugs.
The extracts of Triptergium wilfordii have been used to treat a whole host of conditions and highly lauded for anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, contraceptive and anti-tumor activities. The researchers have known about the active compound, triptolide, which can stop cell growth, since 1972, but only now have they figured out what it does.
Triptolide, the active ingredient purified from Tripterygium wilfordii, has been shown in animal models to be effective against cancer, arthritis, and skin graft rejection. In fact, triptolide has been shown to block the growth of all 60 U.S. National Cancer Institute cell lines at very low doses, and even causes some of those cell lines to die. Other experiments have suggested that triptolide interferes with proteins known to activate genes, which gives the researchers an entry point into their research. Using information already known about these proteins and testing the rest to see if triptolide would alter their behaviors, the research team finally found that triptolide directly binds to and blocks the enzymatic activity of a protein.
Triptolide’s general ability to stop enzymatic activity explains its anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. And its behavior has important additional implications for circumventing the resistance that some cancer cells develop to certain anti-cancer drugs. The researchers are eager to study it further to see what it can do for future cancer therapy.
Tripterygium wilfordii, or léi gōng téng (Mandarin) (Chinese:雷公藤, Japanese: raikōtō), sometimes called thunder god vine but more properly translated thunder duke vine, is a vine used in traditional Chinese medicine for treatment of fever, chills, edema and carbuncle.
Tripterygium wilfordii recently has been investigated as a treatment for a variety of disorders including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, chronichepatitis, chronic nephritis, ankylosing spondylitis, polycystic kidney disease as well as several skin disorders. It is also under investigation for its apparent antifertility effects, which it is speculated, may provide a basis for a Male oral contraceptive.
Triptolide, a diterpene triepoxide, is a major active component of extracts derived from Tripterygium wilfordii. Triptolide has multiple pharmacological activities including anti-inflammatory, immune modulation, antiproliferative and proapoptotic activity.
The Chinese herb, Lei Gong Teng, comes from the roots, leaves and flowers of the tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f. It is collected during summer and autumn. Tripterygium wilfordii Hook is a deciduous climbing vine growing to 12 meters, with brown, angular, downy twigs. The leaves are light green, smooth on top, and pale gray with light hairs underneath. They have crenate margins and pointed apexes, and are ovate to elliptic, 5-15 cm long, 2.5 – 7 cm wide. The scented hermaphroditic (having male and female organs) flowers, which bloom in September, are small and whitish with five petals and are about 9 mm across, in terminal panicles in July. The fruit is 3-winged, and brownish red, about 1.5 cm long. The plant can grow in light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. It can survive in acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.
Source: The whole plant of Triptergium wilfordil Hook. f., family Celastraceae.
Reduction of male fertility
The plant contains many active compounds, at least six of which have male anti-fertility effect (triptolide, tripdiolide, triptolidenol, tripchlorolide, 16-hydroxytriplide and a compound known as T7/19, whose structure is unpublished). The mechanism by which they affect fertility is not yet understood. What is known is that daily doses of these compounds reduce sperm counts and also severely affect the formation and maturation of sperm, causing them to be immotile.
Scientific research into medical effects
Certain extracts from Tripterygium wilfordii, as well as from Tripterygium hypoglaucum (now considered identical to T. regelii) and Tripterygium regelii, were discovered in the 1980s to have temporary antifertility effects, which has led to research on its potential as a contraceptive.
“Tripterygium wilfordii Hook.f., known as Leigongteng (Thunder God Vine) in traditional Chinese medicine, has attracted much attention for its applications in relievingautoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, and for treating cancer. Molecular analyses of the ITS and 5S rDNA sequences indicate that T. hypoglaucum and T. doianum are not distinct from T. wilfordii, while T. regelii should be recognized as a separate species. The results also demonstrate potential value of rDNA sequence data in forensic detection of adulterants derived from Celastrus angulatus in commercial samples of Leigongteng.”
Not enough is known about T. wilfordii to actually test it as a contraceptive. Research thus far has dealt with establishing the mechanism by which the plant affects fertility, and investigating toxicity and side effects. What has been learned is encouraging, however: in both animals and humans, low doses of various Tripterygium extractscan produce significantly lowered sperm density and motility indices without major side effects. When the treatment was ended in the various trials, all indices returned to normal within months.
T. wilfordii could be an effective pharmaceutical alternative to contraceptives based on hormonal manipulation.
As of 2012 The Nanjing University School of Medicine is conducting a clinical trial of Tripterygium wilfordii to determine its possible beneficial effects on kidney volume and kidney function for polycystic kidney disease (PKD) patients. It should report in late 2013.[dated info]
A small molecule Triptolide derived from T. wilfordii has been shown to disrupt mitochondrial function in cells and is under investigation as an anti-tumor agent or to suppress auto-immune disorders.
In China Tripterygium wilfordii has an established history of use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The herb shows immunosuppressive, cartilage protective, and anti-inflammatory effects. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has noted that one systematic review of the literature found that Tripterygium wilfordii may improve some RA symptoms, though another systematic review has stated that the serious side effects occur frequently enough to make the risks of taking this herbal supplement too high for the possible benefits.
Drugs derived from the plant also show potential for reduction and elimination of pancreatic tumors in mice. Clinical trials may soon begin for the development of a drug for use in humans.
At medicinal doses, T. wilfordii extract does have significant side effects, including immunosuppression. However, this may not apply to contraceptive use. Many of the side effects are caused by the other active compounds found in the plant, and do not appear when a pure extraction of its compounds with anti-fertility effect is used. In addition, the dose required to lower fertility is significantly lower than the standard medicinal dose.
In August 2011, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published a drug safety bulletin advising consumers not to use medicines containing Lei Gong Teng. This was due to concerns over potentially serious side effects.
However, a recent review stated that although Tripterygium wilfordii has toxic potential, careful extraction gives an acceptable frequency of adverse reactions, which are largely related to the gastrointestinal tract and amenorrhea. The review found that T. wilfordii extract is useful remedy for postmenopausal rheumatoid arthritis.
The Beijing TV series of China Medicine has shown people being treated successfully with the herb in a formula for rheumatoid arthritis. and outlined some practice to alleviate problems of using the herb. As often the case of TCM, formulations need to to be adjusted for individual’s physiology for best result.
(1). Wilforgine, wilforgine-B,wilfordine, wilfornine, wilfortrine, wilfortrine-D, wilforzine, wilformine, wilfordinic acid, hydroxywilfordii acid ,wilfornine , neowilforine.
(2). Celacinnine, celafurine, celabenzine, celallocinnine.
(3). Triptofordinine A-1, A-2, triptofordin D-1, D-2, E , triptofordin A, B, C-1 C-2 , triptofordin F-1, F-2, F-3, F-4.
2. Diterpene group
(1). Triptolide, tripdiolide, triptonide,tripterolide.
(2.). Triptolidenol, tripnolide, neotriptophenolide, triptophenolide methyl ether , isoneotrip-tophenolide, hypolide methyl ether.
(3). Triptonoterpene, triptonoterpene methyl ether, triptonoterpenol 12-ydroxy-abieta-8, 11, 13 -trien-3-one, 11-hydroxy-14-methoxy-abieta-8, 11-hydroxy-14-methoxy-abieta-8, 11, 13-trien-3-one.
3. Tetra-triterpene group
(1). Wilforlide A, wilforlide B.
(2). Tritotriterpenoid lactone, tretotriterpenic acid A, tritotriterpenic acid B, tritotriterpenic acid C, 3-epikatonic acid, polpunonic acid, triptodihydroxy acid methyl ester, tripterine.
(3). 3,24-dioxofridelan-29-oic acid, salaspermic acid.
5. 1,8-dihydroxy-4-hydroxymethyl anthraquinone
7 Other Chemicals: dulcitol, glucose, tannin.
8. Trace mineral: iron, manganese, zinc, copper, selenium etc.
PG490-88 (14-succinyl triptolide sodium salt) is a semisynthetic compound derived from the diterpene triepoxide, triptolide (PG490). PG490 was first isolated and structurally characterized in 1972 when it was extracted from the Chinese medicinal herb, Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TWHF), a member of the Celastraceae family. Historically, extracts of TWHF have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine but in the 1970s, they were identified as being effective in the treatment of inflammatory/autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Since then, more rigorous attempts were made to better identify biologically active constituents of TWHF responsible for its various clinical properties. We now know, for example, that diterpenoid components of TWHF, especially PG490, exert their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects by inhibition of cytokine production (e.g. , IL-2, IL-4, IFN) by T lymphocytes. These effects of PG490 have also been explored in mouse models where it was shown that PG490 prevents graft versus host disease (GVHD) and prolongs skin, heart, and kidney allograft survival.
The isolation of PG490 has also led to studies supporting its potential development as an antineoplastic agent. Shamon et al., for example, showed that PG490 inhibited growth of several human cancer-derived cell lines (including breast, prostate, and lung) grown in culture. PG490 was also shown to induce apoptosis of human promyelocytic leukemia, T-cell lymphoma, and hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines grown in culture. Interestingly, the inhibitory effects of PG490 on the growth of tumor cells in culture were enhanced in the presence of other inducers of apoptosis such as tumor necrosis factor- (TNF) and chemotherapeutic agents. When combined with chemotherapeutic drugs, PG490 enhanced apoptosis through signaling pathways involving both p53 and p21.
Data on the effects of PG490 on tumor cell growth in vivo , however, are limited. Previous reports have shown that PG490 inhibits tumor development in a hamster model of cholangiocarcinoma and in a murine breast cancer model. These beneficial effects of PG490, however, were counterbalanced by toxicity that was observed at high doses. In the present studies, we further examined the role of PG490 in inhibition of tumor cell growth both in vitroand in a tumor xenograft model. We show that PG490-88, a water-soluble prodrug of PG490, suppresses tumor cell growth in vivo without toxicity. We also show that PG490 acts in synergy with chemotherapy. Our results suggest a potential role of PG490-88 alone and in combination with chemotherapy as a novel antineoplastic regimen for the treatment of patients with solid tumors
The molecular target(s) for PG490 is currently unknown. Clues to the cellular target, however, are emerging from its effect on transcriptional activity. For example, we have shown along with Qiu et al. , that PG490 blocks transcriptional activation of NF- B by blocking transcriptional activation of p65 but without affecting DNA binding by p65. Additionally, we have found that PG490 blocks transcriptional activation by AP-1 and p53 without affecting DNA binding by Jun/Fos or p53. Recent studies show that the transcriptional activity of AP-1, NF-B, and p53 is regulated by a chromatin structure that is controlled, in part, by histone acetylation. In support of this, a recent study showed that p65 interacts with the histone deacetylase (HDAC) corepressors HDAC1 and HDAC2 to negatively regulate NF- B transcriptional activity. Also, silencing mediator of retinoic acid and thyroid hormone receptors (SMRT) was shown to inhibit transactivation of AP-1, NF-B, and serum response factor (SRF) by binding to their cognate transcription factors. Recent studies also show that p53-mediated transcriptional activity is regulated by histone acetylation. However, we have not observed an effect of PG490 on histone acetyltransferase (HAT) activity or histone acetylation.
PG490 at doses of 5–10 ng/ml does not repress basal transcriptional activity mediated by AP-1, NF-B, and p53 but it does block induction of NF-B by TNF and p53 transcriptional activity induced by chemotherapy. Also, PG490 does not affect topoisomerase I or II activity or increase topoisomerase cleavage complexes. Therefore, its synergy with chemotherapy may in large part be due to its inhibition of p21 mediated growth arrest, which activates an apoptotic pathway.
The treatment of solid tumors is evolving to more targeted treatments that may be helped by genetic profiling of tumors and targeting tumor-specific angiogenic and growth factor pathways. Also, several recent studies have shown that disrupting checkpoints in tumors drives tumor cells into apoptosis by abrogating checkpoint arrest. Here we show that PG490-88, a water-soluble derivative of PG490, reduces tumor growth, induces marked regression, or completely eradicates human tumor xenografts. Moreover, PG490-88 is a potent and well-tolerated antitumor agent that acts in synergy with DNA damaging agents and is effective in a clinically relevant dosing schedule. PG490-88 is now in phase I clinical trials for patients with solid tumors. A recent study showing that PG490 inhibits metastasis of solid tumors coupled with our findings that PG490-88 markedly enhances the cytotoxicity of DNA damaging agents suggests that PG490 or PG490-88 alone or in combination with chemotherapy may become an effective therapy for patients with solid tumors. Also, our finding that PG490 sensitizes tumor cells to TNF by blocking NF-B suggests a role for the combination in treating patients with TNF sensitive tumors such as melanoma. Identification of the target of PG490 and its mechanism of action will complement the ongoing clinical trials, and will provide insight into potential mechanisms of toxicity and the design of compounds that may be more selective and more potent.
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- Liu Q. (2011). “Triptolide and its expanding multiple pharmacological functions”. International Immunopharmacology 11 (3): 377–383. doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2011.01.012.PMID 21255694.
- Law et al (2010), p. 21. Source undefined
- Randomized Clinical Trial of Triptolide Woldifii for Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease
- Bao J., Dai S.-M. “A Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: mechanism, efficacy, and safety” Rheumatology International 2011 (1-7)
- Moudgil K.D., Venkatesha S.H., Rajaiah R., Berman B.M. “Immunomodulation of autoimmune arthritis by herbal CAM” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011 2011 Article Number 986797
- “Rheumatoid Arthritis and Complementary Health Approaches”. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
- Liu Z, Ma L, Zhou GB. (2011). “The main anticancer bullets of the Chinese medicinal herb, thunder god vine.”. Molecules 16 (6): 5283–97. doi:10.3390/molecules16065283.PMID 21701438.
- Drug From Chinese ‘Thunder God Vine’ Slays Tumors in Mice. 17 Oct 2012
- Bao J., Dai S.-M., (September 2011). “A Chinese herb Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: Mechanism, efficacy, and safety.”. Rheumatology International 31 (9): 1123–1129. doi:10.1007/s00296-011-1841-y. PMID 21365177.
- Downloadable PDF – “Molecular analyses of the Chinese herb Leigongteng (Tripterygium wilfordii Hook.f.)” (2010). Sue Ka-Yee Law et al. Phytochemistry 72 (2011) 21–26, Elsevier.
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Chinese medicine…Cordyceps ( dong chong xia cao ) 冬蟲草 དབྱར་རྩྭ་དགུན་འབུ་ ………..to treat many diseases related to lungs, kidney, and also used as a natural Viagra.
Ophiocordyceps sinensis (left) growing out of the head of a dead caterpillar
Ophiocordyceps sinensis is a fungus that parasitizes larvae of ghost moths and produces a fruiting body valued as an herbal remedy. The fungus germinates in the living larva, kills and mummifies it, and then the stalk-like fruiting body emerges from the corpse. It is known in English colloquially as caterpillar fungus, or by its more prominent foreign names (see below): yartsa gunbu or yatsa gunbu (Tibetan), or Dōng chóng xià cǎo (Chinese: 冬虫夏草; literally “winter worm, summer grass”). Of the various entomopathogenic fungi, Ophiocordyceps sinensis is one that has been used for at least 2000 years to treat many diseases related to lungs, kidney, and also used as a natural Viagra. This fungus is not yet cultivated commercially, despite the fact that several fermentable strains of Ophiocordyceps sinensis are isolated by Chinese Scientists. Overharvesting and over exploitation have led to the classification of O. sinensis as an endangered species in China. Additional research needs to be carried out in order to understand its morphology and growth habit for conservation and optimum utilization.
The moths in which O. sinensis grows are ambiguously referred to as “ghost moth”, which identifies either a single species or the genus Thitarodes, and the species parasitized by O. sinensis may be one of several Thitarodes that live on the Tibetan Plateau (Tibet, Qinghai, West-Sichuan, SW-Gansu & NW Yunnan), and the Himalayas (India, Nepal, Bhutan).
O. sinensis is known in the West as a medicinal mushroom, and its use has a long history in Traditional Chinese medicine as well as Traditional Tibetan medicine. The hand-collected fungus-caterpillar combination is valued by herbalists and as a status symbol; it is used as an aphrodisiac and treatment for ailments such as fatigue and cancer, although such use is mainly based on traditional Chinese medicine and anecdote. Recent research however seems to indicate a variety of beneficial effects in animal testing, including increased physical endurance through heightened ATP production in rats.
|Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. and the usually the larvae are the remains of Hepialus varians|
|tonifies lung yin and kidney yang. For impotence, chronic lower back pain, afraid of cold, over abundance of mucus and tears, chronic cough and wheezing from deficiency, blood in phlegm from consumption due tokidney yang deficiency (shenyangxu).|
Cordyceps ( Dong Chong Cao ) 冬蟲草 Chinese Herbal Articles also known as chong cao, dong chong cao, yarsa gumba (Nepalese name of Tibetan origin), yartsa gunbu (dbyar rtswa dgun ‘bu) Tibetan name 蟲草, 冬蟲草. It belong to the “Ascomycetes or Clavicipitaceae” family.
Cordyceps ( Dong Chong Cao ) 冬蟲草 has a sweet, warm properties. It is use for treating the lung and kidney.
1. Improves auto-immune system.
2. Protects kidneys from toxins.
3. Protects kidneys from exhaustion.
4. Protects liver from toxins and treats and prevents cirrhosis of liver.
5. Protect the heart from the damaging effect of ouabain (C29H44O12.8H2O).
7. Anti-rejection effect in cornea transplant.
8. Antibiotic effect.
9. Inhibits contraction of smooth muscles.
Cordyceps ( Dong Chong Cao ) 冬蟲草 use in large dosages and/or long term usage can be toxic to kidneys.
According to the classics Medical Material, “Ben Cao Bei Yao” 本草備要, the best dong chong xia cao 冬蟲夏草, are produced in Sichuan. Today, most of them are produced in Xizang (Tibet) and Qinghai. Because the sizes the larvae are larger, they fetch higher prices.
According to the classics Medical Material, “Ben Cao Bei Yao” 本草備要, the best dong chong xia cao 冬蟲夏草, are produced in Sichuan. Today, most of them are produced in Xizang (Tibet) and Qinghai. Because the sizes the larvae are larger, they fetch higher prices.
Taxonomic History/ Systematics
Similar to other Cordyceps]] species, O. sinensis consists of two parts, a fungal endosclerotium (caterpillar) and stroma. The stroma is the upper fungal part and is dark brown or black, but can be a yellow color when fresh and, longer than the caterpillar itself, usually 4–10 cm. It grows singly from the larval head, and is clavate, sublanceolate or fusiform and distinct from the stipe. The stipe is slender, glabrous, and longitudinally furrowed or ridged. The fertile part of the stroma is the head. The head is granular due to the ostioles of the embedded perithecia. The perithecia are ordinally arranged and ovoid  The asci are cylindrical or slightly tapering at both ends, and may be straight or curved, with a capitate and hemispheroid apex and may be two to four spored. Similarly, ascospores are hyaline, filiform, multiseptate at a length of 5-12 um and subattenuated on both sides. Perithecial, ascus and ascospore characters in the fruiting bodies are the key identification characteristics of O. sinensis. Ophiocordyceps (Petch) Kobayasi species produce whole ascospores and do not separate into part spores which is different from other Cordyceps species, which produce either immersed or superficial perithecia perpendicular to stromal surface and the ascospores at maturity are disarticulated into part spores. Generally Cordyceps species possess brightly colored and fleshy stromata, but O. sinensis had dark pigments and tough to pliant stromata, a typical characteristic feature of most of the Ophiocordyceps species.
Important developments in Classification
The species was first described scientifically by Miles Berkeley in 1843 as Sphaeria sinensis; Pier Andrea Saccardo transferred the species to the genus Cordyceps in 1878.The scientific name‘s etymology is from the Latin cord “club”, ceps “head”, and sinensis “from China“. The fungus was known as Cordyceps sinensis until 2007, when molecularanalysis was used to emend the classification of the Cordycipitaceae and the Clavicipitaceae, resulting in the naming of a new family Ophiocordycipitaceae and the transfer of several Cordyceps species to Ophiocordyceps. Based on a molecular phylogenetic study, Sung et al. (2007) separated the megagenus Cordyceps into four genera as it was polyphyletic, viz. Cordyceps (40 spp.), Ophiocordyceps (146 spp.), Metacordyceps (6 spp.) and Elaphocordyceps (21 spp.), while the remaining 175 spp. were left in Cordyceps. As a result, C. sinensis was transferred to Ophiocordyceps, hence renamed as O. sinensis.
In Tibetan it is known as དབྱར་རྩྭ་དགུན་འབུ་ (ZYPY: yartsa gunbu, Wylie: dbyar rtswa dgun ‘bu, “summer grass winter bug”), which is the source of the Nepali यार्शागुम्बा, yarshagumba,yarchagumba or yarsagumba. The transliteration in Bhutan is Yartsa Guenboob. It is known as keera jhar, keeda jadi, keeda ghas or ‘ghaas fafoond in Hindi. Its name in Chinese Dōng chóng xià cǎo (冬蟲夏草) means “winter worm, summer grass” (i.e., “worm in the winter, [turns to] plant in the summer”). The Chinese name is a literal translation of the original Tibetan name, which was first recorded in the 15th Century by the Tibetan doctor Zurkhar Namnyi Dorje. In colloquial Tibetan Yartsa gunbu is often shortened to simply “bu” or “yartsa”.
In traditional Chinese medicine, its name is often abbreviated as chong cao (蟲草 “insect plant”), a name that also applies to other Cordyceps species, such as C. militaris. InJapanese, it is known by the Japanese reading of the characters for the Chinese name, tōchūkasō (冬虫夏草).
Strangely, sometimes in Chinese English language texts Cordyceps sinensis is referred to as aweto [Hill H. Art. XXXVI: The Vegetable Caterpillar (Cordiceps robertsii). Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1868-1961. Vol 34, 1901;396-401], which is the Māori name for Cordyceps robertsii, a species from New Zealand.
The English term “vegetable caterpillar” is a misnomer, as no plant is involved. “Caterpillar fungus” is a preferable term.
Nomenclature of the anamorph
Since the 1980s, 22 species in 13 genera have been attributed to the anamorph of O. sinensis. Of the 22 species, Cephalosporium acreomonium is the zygomycetous species ofUmbelopsis, Chrysosporium sinense has very low similarity in RAPD polymorphism, hence it is not the anamorph. Likewise, Cephalosporium dongchongxiacae, C. sp. sensu,Hirsutella sinensis and H. hepiali and Synnematium sinnense are synonymous and only H. sinensis is only validly published in articles. Cephalosporium sinensis possibly might be synonymous to H. sinensis but there is lack of valid information. Isaria farinose is combined to Paecilomyces farinosus and is not the anamorph. Several species like Isaria sp. Verticella sp. Scydalium sp. Stachybotrys sp. were identified only up to generic level, and thus it is dubious that they are anamorph. Mortierella hepiali is discarded as anamorph as it belongs to Zygomycota. Paecilomyces sinensis and Sporothrix insectorum are discarded based on the molecular evidence. P. lingi appeared only in one article and thus is discarded due to incomplete information. Tolypocladium sinense, P. hepiali, and Scydalium hepiali, have no valid information and thus are not considered as anamorph toOphiocordyceps sinensis. V. sinensis is not considered anamorph as there is no valid published information. Similarly, Metarhizium anisopliae is not considered anamorph as it has widely distributed host range, and is not restricted only in high altitude. Thus Hirsutella sinensis is considered the validly published anamorph of O. sinensis. Cordyceps nepalensis and C. multiaxialis which had similar morphological characteristics to C. sinensis, also had almost identical or identical ITS sequences and its presumed anamorph, H. sinensis. This also confirms H. sinensis to be anamorph of O. sinensis and suggests C. nepalensis and C. multiaxialis are synonyms. Evidence based on microcyclic conidiation from ascospores and molecular studies  support H. sinensis as the anamorph of the caterpillar fungus, O. sinensis.
The caterpillars prone to infection by O. sinensis generally live 6 inches underground  in alpine grass and shrub-lands on the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas at an altitude between 3,000 and 5,000 m (9,800 and 16,400 ft). The fungus is reported from the northern range of Nepal, Bhutan, and also from the northern states of India, apart from northern Yunnan, eastern Qinghai, eastern Tibet, western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu provinces. The fungus consumes its host from inside out as they hibernate in alpine meadows. Usually the larvae are more vulnerable after shedding their skin, during late summer. The fungal fruiting body disperses spores which infect the caterpillar. The infected larvae tend to remain vertical to the soil surface with their heads up. The fungus then germinates in the living larva, kills and mummifies it, and then the stalk-like fruiting body emerges from the head and the fungus finally emerges from the soil by early spring. Fifty-seven taxa from seven genera (1 Bipectilus, 1 Endoclita, 1 Gazoryctra, 12 Hepialus, 2Magnificus, 3 Pharmacis, and 37 Thitarodes ) are recognized as potential hosts of O. sinensis.
Ophiocordyceps sinensis has both teleomorphic and anamorphic phases. Spending up to five years underground before pupating, the Thitarodes caterpillar is attacked while feeding on roots. It is not certain how the fungus infects the caterpillar; possibly by ingestion of a fungal spore or by the fungus mycelium invading the insect through one of the insect’s breathing pores. The dark brown to black fruiting body (or mushroom) emerges from the ground in spring or early summer, the long, usually columnar fruiting body reaches 5–15 cm above the surface and releases spores.
In late autumn, chemicals on the skin of the caterpillar interact with the fungal spores and release the fungal mycelia, which then infects the caterpillar. After invading a host larva, the fungus ramifies throughout the host and eventually kills it. Gradually the host larvae become rigid due to the production of fungal sclerotia. Fungal sclerotia are multihyphal structures that can remain dormant and then germinate to produce spores. After over-wintering, the fungus ruptures the host body, forming a sexual sporulating structure (a perithecial stroma) from the larval head in summer that is connected to the sclerotia (dead larva) below ground and grows upward to emerge from the soil. The slow growing O. sinensis grows at a comparatively low temperature, i.e., below 21oC. Temperature requirements and growth rates are crucial factors that identify O. sinensis from other similar fungi.
Use in medicine
It is used as a curative to many diseases, anti- aging, hypoglycemic, aphrodisiac and also treatment against cancer. Ophiocordyceps sinensis serves against kidney and lung problems and stimulates the immune system; it is used for treatment of fatigue, night sweating, respiratory disease, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, asthenia after severe illness, arrhythmias and other heart diseases and liver disease.
Traditional Asian medicines
Medicinal use of the caterpillar fungus apparently originated in Tibet and Nepal. So far the oldest known text documenting its use was written in the late fourteen hundreds by the Tibetan doctor Zurkhar Nyamnyi Dorje (Wylie: Zur mkhar mnyam nyid rdo rje)[1439-1475]) in his text: Man ngag bye ba ring bsrel (“Instructions on a Myriad of Medicines”). A translation is available at Winkler.
The first mention of Ophiocordyceps sinensis in traditional Chinese Medicine was in Wang Ang’s 1694 compendium of materia medica, Ben Cao Bei Yao. In the 18th Century it was listed in Wu Yiluo‘s Ben cao cong xin (“New compilation of materia medica”). No sources have been published to uphold widespread claims of “thousands of years of use in Chinese medicine” or use of “chong cao since the 7th Century Tang Dynasty in China”. The ethno-mycological knowledge on caterpillar fungus among the Nepalese people is documented byDevkota(2006) The entire fungus-caterpillar combination is hand-collected for medicinal use.
The fungus is a medicinal mushroom which is highly prized by practitioners of Tibetan medicine, Chinese medicine and traditional Folk medicines, in which it is used as an aphrodisiac and as a treatment for a variety of ailments from fatigue to cancer. In Chinese medicine it is regarded as having an excellent balance of yin and yang as it is apparently both animal and vegetable. Assays have found thatOphiocordyceps species produce many pharmacologically active substances. They are now cultivated on an industrial scale for their medicinal value. However, no one has succeeded so far in growing the larva cum mushroom artificially. The biological process that forms the Ophiocordyceps is still unknown and true cultivation has yet to be realized. All artificial products are derived from mycelia grown on grains or in liquids.
According to Bensky et al. (2004), laboratory-grown C. sinensis mycelia have similar clinical efficacy and less associated toxicity. He notes a toxicity case of constipation, abdominal distension, and decreased peristalsis, two cases of irregular menstruation, and one case report ofamenorrhea following ingestion of tablets or capsules containing C. sinensis. In Chinese medicine C. sinensis is considered sweet and warm, entering the lung and kidney channels; the typical dosage is 3–9 grams.
Some work has been published in which Ophiocordyceps sinensis has been used to protect the bone marrow and digestive systems ofmice from whole body irradiation. An experiment noted Ophiocordyceps sinensis may protect the liver from damage. An experiment conducted with mice noted the mushroom may have an anti-depressant effect. Researchers have noted that the caterpillar fungus has ahypoglycemic effect and may be beneficial for people with insulin resistance. There is also experimental evidence of the supposed energizing effect of the fungus, as it has been shown to increase endurance through heightened ATP production in rats.
A March 2013 study on Cordyceps Sinensis documented the medicinal fungus’ anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists were able to show Cordyceps Sinensis’ ability to suppress interleukin-1b and interleukin-18 secretion by inhibiting both canonical and non-canonical inflammasomes. Inflammasomes have long been associated with auto-inflammatory diseases, such as gout. The study used a specific anamorphic mycelial form of Cordyceps Sinensis known as Hirsutella Sinensis.
Introduction to the Western world
The Western world was largely unaware of Ophiocordyceps prior to 1993. The fungus dramatically caught the world’s eye due to the performance of three female Chinese athletes, Wang Junxia, Qu Yunxia, and Zhang Linli. These athletes broke five world records for 1,500, 3,000 and 10,000 meter dashes at the National Games in Beijing, China. The number of new world records set at a single track event attracted much attention and suspicion. Following the races, the women were expected by some to fail drug tests for anabolic steroids. However, the athletes’ tests revealed no illegal substances, and coach Ma Junren told the reporters that the runners were takingOphiocordyceps sinensis and turtle blood at his request. However for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Ma Junren withdrew some of his athletes at the last minute. It was speculated that a new doping test would have revealed illegal substances, thus half a dozen Chinese field and track athletes were left at home.
Economics and impact
In rural Tibet, yartsa gunbu has become the most important source of cash income. The fungi contributed 40% of the annual cash income to local households and 8.5% to the GDP in 2004. Prices have increased continuously, especially since the late 1990s. In 2008, one kilogram traded for US$3,000 (lowest quality) to over US$18,000 (best quality, largest larvae). The annual production on the Tibetan Plateau was estimated in 2009 at 80–175 tons. The Himalayan Ophiocordyceps production might not exceed a few tons.
In 2004 the value of a kilogram of caterpillars was estimated at about 30,000 to 60,000 Nepali rupees in Nepal, and about Rs 100,000 in India. In 2011 the value of a kilogram of caterpillars was estimated at about 350,000 to 450,000 Nepali rupees in Nepal. A 2012 BBC article indicated that in north Indian villages a single fungus was worth Rs 150 (about £2 or $3), which is more than the daily wage of a manual laborer.
According to Daniel Winkler, the price of Ophiocordyceps sinensis has risen dramatically on the Tibetan Plateau, basically 900% between 1998 and 2008, an annual average of over 20% (after inflation). However, the value of big sized caterpillar fungus has increased more dramatically than smaller size Cordyceps, regarded as lower quality.
|Year||% Price Increase||Price/kg (Yuan)|
|1997||467% (incl. inflation)||8,400|
|2004||429% (incl. inflation)||36,000|
Because of its high value, inter-village conflicts over access to its grassland habitats has become a headache for the local governing bodies and in several cases people were killed. In November 2011, a court in Nepal convicted 19 villagers over the murder of a group of farmers during a fight over the prized aphrodisiac fungus. Seven farmers were killed in the remote northern district of Manang in June 2009 after going to forage for Yarchagumba. 
Its value gave it a role in the Nepalese Civil War, as the Nepalese Maoists and government forces fought for control of the lucrative export trade during the June–July harvest season. Collecting yarchagumba in Nepal had only been legalised in 2001, and now demand is highest in countries such as China, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. By 2002, the herb was valued at R 105,000 ($1,435) per kilogram, allowing the government to charge a royalty of R 20,000 ($280) per kilogram.
The search for Ophiocordyceps sinensis is often perceived to pose a threat to the environment of the Tibetan Plateau where it grows. While it has been collected for centuries and is still common in such areas, current collection rates are much higher than in historical times.
Ophiocordyceps producers like to perpetuate the story that unscrupulous harvesters insert twigs into the ascocarps of wild C. sinensis to increase their weight and therefore the price paid. A tiny twig is only used when the ascocarp is broken from the caterpillar, and has nothing to do with artificially increasing weight. Supposedly, at some point in the past, someone inserted lead wires with which to increase weight; however, each year hundreds of millions of specimens are harvested and this appears to have been a one-time occurrence.
Cultivated C. sinensis mycelium is an alternative to wild-harvested C. sinensis, and producers claim it may offer improved consistency. Artificial culture of C. sinensis is typically by growth of pure mycelia in liquid culture (in China) or on grains (in the West). The first time in Vietnam, Prof. Aca. Dr. Dai Duy Ban together with scientists and DAIBIO Company and DAIBIO Great Traditional Medicine Family Clinic discovered the Cordyceps sinensis as Isaria cerambycidae N.SP. to develop Fermentation DAIBIO Cordyceps Sinensis.Ascocarps are not produced through in vitro cultivation.
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- Zhang GQ, Huang YD, Bian Y, Wong JH, Ng TB, Wang HX (2006) Hypoglycemic activity of the fungus Cordyceps militaris, Cordyceps sinensis, Tricholoma mongolicum and Omphalia lapidescens in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 72 (6): 1152-1156. Doi: 10.1007/s00253-006-0411-9.
- Winkler D. (2008). “The mushrooming fungi market in Tibet exemplified by Cordyceps sinensis and Tricholoma matsutake“. Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies. In: In the Shadow of the Leaping Dragon: Demography, Development, and the Environment in Tibetan Areas (4).
- Winkler D. (2008). “Yartsa Gunbu (Cordyceps sinensis) and the fungal commodification of the rural economy in Tibet AR”. Economic Botany 62 (3): 291–305.doi:10.1007/s12231-008-9038-3.
- Wu Y (1757). “Ben cao cong xin” – “New compilation of materia medica” (in Chinese).
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- WS, Hsu SL, Chyau CC, Chen KC, Peng RY. (July 2009). “Compound Cordyceps TCM-700C exhibits potent hepatoprotective capability in animal model”. Fitoterapia 81(1): 1–7. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2009.06.018. PMID 19596425.
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- Huang, T. et al. (March 2013). “Hirsutella sinensis mycelium suppresses interleukin-1b and interleukin-18 secretion by inhibiting both canonical and non-canonical inflammasomes.” (PDF). Scientific Report. 3, 1374;.
- Winkler, D. (2009). “Caterpillar Fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) Production and Sustainability on the Tibetan Plateau and in the Himalayas”. Asian Medicine 5 (2): 291. doi:10.1163/157342109X568829.
- Sharma S. (2004). “Trade of Cordyceps sinensis from high altitudes of the Indian Himalaya: Conservation and biotechnological priorities” (PDF). Current Science 86(12): 1614–9.
- Jeffrey, Craig (2012-07-07). “The ‘Viagra’ transforming local economies in India”. BBC News. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
- Staff (14 November 2011) ‘Himalayan viagra’: Six men get life for Nepal murders BBC News Asia, Retrieved 9 July 2012
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- DAIBIO Cordyceps Sinensis in Vietnam
- Winkler, D. 2005. Yartsa Gunbu – Cordyceps sinensis. Economy, Ecology & Ethno-mycology of a Fungus Endemic to the Tibetan Plateau. In: A.BOESI & F. CARDI (eds.). Wildlife and plants in traditional and modern Tibet: Conceptions, Exploitation and Conservation. Memorie della Società Italiana di Scienze Naturali e del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano, Vol. 33.1:69–85.
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- Daniel Winkler’s Cordyceps blog
- Nepal’s Nature – The Himalayan Viagra
- Page at Everything2.com
- Image gallery of Cordyceps sinensis
- The first time in Vietnam, Prof.Aca.D.Sc Dai Duy Ban with his scientists discovered Cordyceps Sinensis as Isaria cerambycidae N.SP. and Fermentation Daibio Cordyceps Sinensis by Daibio Great Family Traditional Medicine Clinic Company
- Daibio Cordyceps Sinensis in Vietnam
- An Electronic Monograph of Cordyceps and Related Fungi
- Cordyceps information from Drugs.com
- Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. Medicinal Plant Images Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (English) (traditional Chinese)
- Chinese Caterpiller Fungus Chinese Medicine Specimen Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (English) (traditional Chinese)
- Tibet’s Golden “Worm” August 2012 National Geographic (magazine)
Xing Ren is the mature seed of Prunus armeniaca L. var. ansu Maxim, P. armeniaca L., P. mandshurica (Maxim.) Koehne or P. sibirica L., family Rosaceae.
Xing Ren contains 50% of fatty oils (including oleic, linoleic. palmitic, stearic and linolenic acids), as well as amygdalin, amygdalase and prunase. Hydrolysing amygdalin generates benzaldehyde and hydrocyanic acid, which is toxic
Bitter Apricot Seed ( Xingren ) 杏仁
Bitter Apricot Seed ( Xingren ) 杏仁 , also known as xing ren 杏仁，ku xing ren 苦杏仁，kuang xing ren 光杏仁，ku he ren 杏核仁，炒杏仁，jian xing ren 尖杏仁，xing ren xiang 杏仁霜. It belong to the “Rosaceae” family.
Bitter Apricot Seed ( Xingren ) 杏仁 has a warm, bitter and slightly toxic. It is use for treating the lung and large intestine.
Pharmaceutical Name: Semen Armeniacae.Botanical Name: 1. Prunus armeniaca L. var. ansu maxim.; 2. Prunus mandshurica(Maxim.) Koehne; 3. Prunus sibirica L.
Common Name: Apricot seed, Bitter apricot seed or kernel.Source of Earliest Record: Shennong Bencao Jing.Part Used & Method for Pharmaceutical
Preparations: The seeds are collected after the apricot ripens in summer. They are then dried in the sun and pounded into pieces.Properties & Taste: Bitter, slightly warm and slightly toxic.Meridians: Lung and large intestine.
Functions: 1. To stop cough and relieve asthma; 2. To moisten the intestines and move stool.Indications & Combinations:1. Cough and asthma: a) cough due to invasion by exogenous pathogenic wind and heat Apricot seed (Xingren) is used with Mulberry leaf (Sangye) and Chrysanthemum flower (Juhua) in the formula Sang Ju Yin; b) cough due to dysfunction of the lungs caused by dryness and heatApricot seed (Xingren) is used with Mulberry leaf (Sangye), Tendrilled fritillary bulb (Chuanbeimu) and Glehnia root (Shashen) in the formula Sang Xing Tang; c) cough and asthma due to accumulated heat in the lungsApricot seed (Xingren) is used with Gypsum (Shigao) and Ephedra (Mahuang) in the formula Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang.2. Constipation due to dryness in the intestines: Apricot seed (Xingren) is used with Hemp seed (Huomaren) and Chinese angelica root (Danggui) in the formula Runchang Wan.Dosage: 3-10 g.Cautions & Contraindications: This herb is slightly toxic, so overdosing should be avoided. It should be used with caution in infants.
Bitter Apricot Seed ( Xingren ) 杏仁
1. Arresting coughing and asthma.
2. Expelling phlegm.
3. Help bowel movements.
Bitter Apricot Seed ( Xingren ) 杏仁 Toxicity & Cautions:
Bitter Apricot Seed ( Xingren ) 杏仁 contain hydrogen cyanide which is a strong toxin. Eating 20 to 30 piece may cause toxic reaction even death. The toxin can be hydrolyzed in cooking and can render it non toxic. It is not recommended for small children.
Taste: bitter; nature: slightly warm; slightly toxic.
Lung and Large Intestine.
Functions and indications
Stops coughing and calms wheezing, moistens the Intestines and frees the bowels. It is indicated for coughing and wheezing, sore throat andconstipation.
3-10g, decocted for a short time only.
Precautions and contraindications
- As Xing Ren is slightly toxic, large dosages should be avoided, especially when treating infants.
- Contraindicated in cases of weak constitution and profuse sweating.
Ku Xing Ren (Semen Pruni Armeniacae Amarum), or bitter apricot kernel, is normally used for this herb.
In China, people who can afford to buy apricot as a fresh fruit generally throw the stones away. Servants and the less fortunate children gatherthe stones and sell them to collectors who use cheap labor to crack the shells (endocarp) and free the seeds (kernel) with the brown seed coat tightly covering the embryo (two cotyledons with the small radical and plumule).
In Chinese prescriptions, an apricot seed with the brown seed coat intact is called bei-xing-ren (northern apricot seed). All Chinese apothecaries keep a supply of apricot seeds in this state.
Detoxificated apricot seed: The major portion of the annual production of apricot seed is detoxified, processed by being first subjected to boiling water to loosen the seed coat, which can then be rubbed off by hand, followed by soaking the white cotyledons in cold water with several changes to eliminate the bitter element and to detoxify them. Then the detoxified white cotyledons are dried for the market. In Chinese prescriptions, this decoated and detoxified material is called nan-xing-ren (southern apricot seed) or tian-xing-ren (sweet apricot seed), which is also available in apothecaries. However, a greater portion of the detoxified material is used in pastry and for food.
The LD for intravenous injection of amygdalin in mice or rats is 25g/kg; for intraperitoneal injection, it is 8g/kg; and for oraladministration, it is O.6g/kg. Oral administration of 55 pieces (the equivalem of about 60g) of Ku Xing Ren, containing 1.8g of amygdalin, can cause death in humans. The main symptoms oftoxic reaction include a bitter taste in the mouth, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, diarrhoea, agitation, vexation and restlessness, palpitations, and weakness of the limbs, and in severe cases, oppression in the chest, difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness, a reduction in blood pressure and even coma. Ku Xing Ren should therefore not be used raw and overdosage must be avoided.
- Inhibits the respiratory centre to stop coughing and calmwheezing.
- Affects digestion by inhibiting the activity of pepsins.
- Reduces the level of blood fats.
- Inhibits inflammation and alleviates pain.
- Inhibits carcinoma
Other common name(s): absinthium, absinth wormwood
Scientific/medical name(s): Artemisia absinthium
Wormwood is a shrubby perennial plant whose upper shoots, flowers, and leaves are used in herbal remedies and as a bitter flavoring for alcoholic drinks. It is native to Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, and now also grows in North America.
Available scientific evidence does not support claims that wormwood is effective in treating cancer, the side effects of cancer treatment, or any other conditions. The plant contains a volatile oil with a high level of thujone (see Thuja). There are reports that taking large doses of wormwood internally can cause serious problems with the liver and kidneys. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, headache, dizziness, seizures, numbness of the legs and arms, delirium, and paralysis.
Wormwood, or Artemisia absinthium, should not be confused with sweet wormwood, or Artemisia annua. Although wormwood is related to sweet wormwood, they are used in different ways. Extracts of sweet wormwood have been used in traditional herbal medicine, and an active ingredient, artemisinin, is now used in conventional medical treatment of malaria.
How is it promoted for use?
Wormwood is promoted as a sedative and anti-inflammatory. There are also claims that it can treat loss of appetite, stomach disorders, and liver and gallbladder complaints. In folk medicine it is used for a wide range of stomach disorders, fever, and irregular menstruation. It is also used to fight intestinal worms. Externally, it is applied to poorly healing wounds, ulcers, skin blotches, and insect bites. It is used in Moxibustion treatments for cancer (seeMoxibustion). Available scientific evidence does not support these claims.
What does it involve?
Wormwood is taken in small doses for a short period of time, usually a maximum of 4 weeks. It is available as a capsule and as a liquid that can be added to water to make a tincture. The whole herb is sometimes brewed as a tea. Wormwood oil, washes, or poultices can also be used on the skin. Although pure wormwood is not available, “thujone-free” wormwood extract has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in foods and as a flavoring in alcoholic drinks such as vermouth.
What is the history behind it?
Artemisia absinthium was used by Hippocrates, and the earliest references to wormwood in Western civilization can be found in the Bible. Extract of wormwood was also used in ancient Egypt. The herb is mentioned often in first-century Greek and Roman writings and reportedly was placed in the sandals of Roman soldiers to help soothe their sore feet. It was taken as a treatment for tapeworms as far back as the Middle Ages.
In 1797, Henri Pernod developed absinthe, an alcoholic drink containing distilled spirits of wormwood, fennel, anise and sometimes other herbs. Absinthe became very popular in Europe and the United States in the nineteenth century. It was eventually banned in several countries in the early twentieth century due to its purported ill effects and addictive qualities. More recent analysis has suggested that, when properly prepared and distilled, the thujone content in these drinks was very low. It appears more likely that the addictiveness and other ill effects of absinthe were due to its alcohol content, which is around 60% to 85%. Varying additives or impurities from different distillers may have also produced some of these effects. Even though absinthe is illegal in some countries, various types can be found in some European countries. However, their thujone content is strictly limited. Wormwood is also an ingredient in vermouth and other drinks.
What is the evidence?
Available scientific studies do not support the use of wormwood for the treatment of cancer or the side effects of conventional cancer treatment. There is not enough evidence available to support its use for other conditions. Wormwood oil has been tested in laboratory studies and appears to inhibit the growth of some fungi. However, human tests have not been completed.
Some derivatives of Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood, a relative of wormwood, have been shown to be effective in the treatment of malaria. In fact, the World Health Organization approved artemisinin for use against malaria in Africa in 2004. These extracts also show some promise in laboratory studies as cancer treatment drugs. Further studies are required to find out whether the anti-cancer results apply to people. It is important to remember that extracted compounds are not the same as the whole herb, and study results are not likely to show the same effects.
Are there any possible problems or complications?
Wormwood should be avoided, especially by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, by people who have had seizures, and by those with ulcers or stomach irritation. Thujone, a component of wormwood, is known to cause muscle spasms, seizures, and hallucinations if taken internally. In high doses it is known to damage the liver and the kidneys.
Because of its thujone content, large doses of wormwood taken internally can lead to vomiting, stomach and intestinal cramps, headaches, dizziness, nervous system problems, and seizures. Wormwood can also lead to liver failure. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that a man who ordered essential oil of wormwood over the Internet, thinking he had purchased absinthe, suffered liver failure shortly after drinking the oil. Wormwood may also make seizures more likely and may interfere with the anti-convulsant effects of medicines such as phenobarbital.
The plant is a relative of ragweed and daisies. Those with allergies to these types of plants may also be allergic to wormwood. Contact with wormwood can cause rash in some people.
Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
Liquorice or licorice (/ˈlɪk(ə)rɪʃ/ lik-(ə-)rish or /ˈlɪk(ə)rɪs/ lik-(ə-)ris) is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a somewhat sweet flavor can be extracted. The liquorice plant is a legume that is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. It is not botanically related to anise, star anise, or fennel, which are sources of similar flavouring compounds. The word ‘liquorice’/’licorice’ is derived (via the Old French licoresse), from the Greek γλυκύρριζα (glukurrhiza), meaning “sweet root”, from γλυκύς (glukus), “sweet” + ῥίζα (rhiza), “root”, the name provided by Dioscorides.
It is a herbaceous perennial, growing to 1 m in height, with pinnate leaves about 7–15 cm (3–6 in) long, with 9–17 leaflets. The flowers are 0.8–1.2 cm (⅓–½ in) long, purple to pale whitish blue, produced in a loose inflorescence. The fruit is an oblong pod, 2–3 cm (1 in) long, containing several seeds.The roots are stoloniferous.
The scent of liquorice root comes from a complex and variable combination of compounds, of which anethole is the most minor component (0-3% of total volatiles). Much of the sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizin, which has a sweet taste, 30–50 times the sweetness of sugar. The sweetness is very different from sugar, being less instant and lasting longer.
A, phase I metabolites of ILG formed during incubation with rat liver microsomes and NADPH. Based on accurate mass measurements, HPLC retention times, MS/MS analyses, and comparison with data reported by Guo et al. (18), the structures of metabolites M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, and M7 were assigned as liquiritigenin, 7,8,4′-trihydroxychalcone, sulfuretin, 7,3′,4′-trihydroxychalcone, davidigenin, trans-6,4′-dihydroxyaurone, and cis-6,4′-dihydroxyaurone, respectively. B, structures of ILG glucuronide conjugates formed by rat liver microsomes in the presence of UDPGA.
Cultivation and uses
Liquorice grows best in deep valleys, well-drained soils, with full sun, and is harvested in the autumn, two to three years after planting. Countries producing liquorice include Iran, Afghanistan, the People’s Republic of China, Pakistan, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Turkey.
Most liquorice is used as a flavoring agent for tobacco. For example, M&F Worldwide reported in 2011 that approximately 63% of its liquorice product sales are to the worldwide tobacco industry for use as tobacco flavor enhancing and moistening agents in the manufacture of American blend cigarettes, moist snuff, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco. American blend cigarettes made up a larger portion of worldwide tobacco consumption in earlier years, and the percentage of liquorice products used by the tobacco industry was higher in the past. M&F Worldwide sold approximately 73% of its liquorice products to the tobacco industry in 2005, and a consultant to M&F Worldwide’s predecessor company stated in 1975 that it was believed that well over 90% of the total production of liquorice extract and its derivatives found its way into tobacco products.
Liquorice provides tobacco products with a natural sweetness and a distinctive flavor that blends readily with the natural and imitation flavoring components employed in the tobacco industry, represses harshness, and is not detectable as liquorice by the consumer. Tobacco flavorings such as liquorice also make it easier to inhale the smoke by creating bronchodilators, which open up the lungs. Chewing tobacco requires substantially higher levels of liquorice extract as emphasis on the sweet flavor appears highly desirable.
Food and candy
Liquorice flavour is found in a wide variety of liquorice candies or sweets. In most of these candies the taste is reinforced by aniseed oil, and the actual content of liquorice is very low. Liquorice confections are primarily purchased by consumers in the European Union.
In the Netherlands, where liquorice candy (“drop”) is one of the most popular forms of sweet, only a few of the many forms that are sold contain aniseed, although mixing it with mint, menthol or with laurel is quite popular. Mixing it with ammonium chloride (‘salmiak’) is also popular. The most popular liquorice, known in the Netherlands as zoute drop (salty liquorice) actually contains very little salt, i.e. sodium; the salty taste is probably due to ammonium chloride, and the blood pressure raising effect is due to glycyrrhizin, see below. Strong, salty candies are popular in Scandinavia.
Pontefract in Yorkshire was the first place where liquorice mixed with sugar began to be used as a sweet in the same way it is in the modern day. Pontefract cakes were originally made there. In County Durham, Yorkshire and Lancashire it is colloquially known as Spanish, supposedly because Spanish monks grew liquorice root at Rievaulx Abbey near Thirsk.
Liquorice is popular in Italy (particularly in the South) and Spain in its natural form. The root of the plant is simply dug up, washed and chewed as a mouth freshener. Throughout Italy unsweetened liquorice is consumed in the form of small black pieces made only from 100% pure liquorice extract; the taste is bitter and intense. In Calabria a popular liqueur is made from pure liquorice extract. Liquorice is also very popular in Syria where it is sold as a drink. Dried liquorice root can be chewed as a sweet. Black liquorice contains approximately 100 calories per ounce (15 kJ/g).
The compound glycyrrhizin (or glycyrrhizic acid), found in liquorice, has been proposed as being useful for liver protection in tuberculosis therapy, however evidence does not support this use which may in fact be harmful. Glycyrrhizin has also demonstrated antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective and blood-pressure increasing effects in vitro and in vivo, as is supported by the finding that intravenous glycyrrhizin (as if it is given orally very little of the original drug makes it into circulation) slows the progression of viral and autoimmune hepatitis. Liquorice has also demonstrated promising activity in one clinical trial, when applied topically, against atopic dermatitis. Additionally liquorice has also proven itself effective in treating hyperlipidaemia (a high amount of fats in the blood). Liquorice has also demonstrated efficacy in treating inflammation-induced skin hyperpigmentation. Liquorice may also be useful in preventing neurodegenerative disorders and cavities. Anti-ulcer, laxative, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antitumour and expectorant properties of liquorice have also been noted.
In traditional Chinese medicine, liquorice (मुलेठी, 甘草, شیرین بیان) is commonly used in herbal formulae to “harmonize” the other ingredients in the formula and to carry the formula to the twelve “regular meridians”.
Its major dose-limiting toxicities are corticosteroid, in nature, due to the inhibitory effect its chief active constituents, glycyrrhizin and enoxolone have oncortisol degradation and include: oedema, hypokalaemia, weight gain or loss and hypertension.
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CHINESE HERBS……Atractylodes ( Bai Zhu ) can adjust gastrointestinal motility, fight ulcer, protect liver, improve immune system
Bai Zhu (Atractylodes Macrocephala)
Awarded the title as The First Herb of Invigorating Qi and Strengthening Spleen, no doubt Bai Zhu (Atractylodes Macrocephala) lives up to that reputation thanks for its consistent performance. As one of eight well-known medicinal specialties in Zhejiang province, this Chinese herb is produced mainly in Shao Xing.
Given its special effect in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is treated as an equal to Ren Shen (Ginseng). Thus an old saying goes: “Ren Shen in the north and Bai Zhu in the south.” Through the famous classic formula of Si Jun Zi Tang, Four Gentleman Decoction, a quick glance will be given to their significance. Just a quick footnote here, it is the fundamental formula for deficiency of spleen and stomach Qi, which is the inspiration source of numerous subsequent formulas aiming to tonify spleen and benefit vital energy.
What is Bai Zhu?
Also known as White Atractylodes Rhizome or Atractylodes Macrocephala Rhizome, it refers to the root of Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz., which is a perennial herb, 30 to 60 in height. Rhizome is fleshy and clenched like a fist. Stem is erect and branching in upper part. Leaves grow alternatively, 3-parted or undivided in upper stem, elliptic lobes, and margined with spinescents. This perennial flowering plant is with terminal capitulum, bell-shaped involucre, purple-red corolla, and slightly flattened ellipsoid achene. Flowering period is July to September and fruit-bearing stage is August to October.
The medicinal part is the root, which is collected in winter, dirt removed, dried over a fire or in the sun, and fibril removed. It clenches like a fist, 3 to 13cm long, and 1.5 to 7cm in diameter. The surface is grayish yellow or grayish brown in color, with tubercule and intermittent lengthwise wrinkles and fibril scars, and remnant stem base and bud scars on top. The texture is hard and difficult to break. Traverse cross section is uneven, yellowish white to light brown, and scattered with brownish yellow oil spots. It has a delicate fragrance and sweet but pungent taste. But it is sticky when chewing.
What is it used for?
Now modern researches show that it can adjust gastrointestinal motility, fight ulcer, protect liver, improve immune system, relieve stress, enhance hematopoietic function, induce diuresis, fight oxidation, slow down aging, regulate blood sugar level, and fight cancer. Compared with the traditional applications, above-mentioned findings is perfectly in line with them, which to some extent gives more scientific proof to this amazing herb.
Property and indications
From the TCM’s perspective, it is bitter, sweet, and warm in nature and goes to meridians of spleen and stomach. Main functions are to invigorate Qi and strengthen the spleen, eliminate dampness and promote diuresis, stop sweat, and prevent miscarriage. Main clinical usage and indications are lack of appetite due to spleen deficiency, abdominal distension and diarrhea, dizziness and palpitation caused by phlegm and retained fluid, edema, spontaneous sweating, and fetal irritability. Regular dosage is 6 to 12 grams.
Atractylodes ( Bai Zhu )
Atractylodes ( Bai Zhu ) 白朮 Chinese Herbs Articles, also known as dong zhu 冬朮、xia zhu 夏朮，yun zhu 云朮，tai bai zhu 台白朮，wa zhu 蛙朮，ji yabn zhu 雞眼朮. It belong to the “” family.
Atractylodes ( Bai Zhu ) 白朮 has a aromatic, slightly acrid, non toxic and sweet and it is a little sticky when chewed. It is use for treating the spleen and stomach.
Atractylodes ( Bai Zhu ) 白朮 Medical Function:
1. Digestive System
• Protects Liver: Extraction of bai zhu (by boiling with water) was given to lab mice that had liver damage caused by carbon chloride. It lessened the necrosis and mutation of liver cells, and improved the new growth of the liver cells. It lowered the glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (GPT) that was increased.
• Improves gall secretion
• Prevents ulcer of stomach
• Improves movements of intestines and bowels
3. Improves immune system
4. Anti Cancer
Laboratory tests showed that neutral oil of the vaporizing oil bai zhu could inhibit esophagus cancer cells. 10mg/ml/hour could detach all the cancer cells. 5mg/ml/hour could detach most of the cancer cells and damaged the remaining cells. The nucleus became hazy and the cells became empty bubbles. 5. Affects heart and blood vessels
6. Lowers blood sugar
7. Anti coagulation of blood
8. Anti bacteria
Atractylodes ( Bai Zhu ) 白朮 Use Cautions:
Atractylodes ( Bai Zhu ) 白朮 should be use cautiously in cases of giddiness[ yinxu ] (yin deficient).
The investigation of the aromatic oils is a key to understanding the atractylodes herbal materials, particularly cangzhu. Atractylodes lancea is rich in a volatile oil, making up 3.5-7% of the dried rhizome, with atractylodin, β-eudesmol, hinesol, elemol, atractylone, and β-selinene; A. chinensis and other substitute species have less essential oil. The main constituents in the essential oils from the rhizome of A. chinensis are β-eudesmol and atractylone; A. lancea also has hinesol as a major constituent. β-eudesmol is a major component of the essential oil of magnolia bark, an herb in the same Materia Medica category as cangzhu. The fraction comprising the combination of hinesol and eudesmol in A. lancea is called atractylol, and this is the reddish substance appearing on the surface of the sliced rhizome, giving the name red atractylodes.
Atractylodes macrocephala (baizhu) has less essential oil than the cangzhu varieties, with only 0.35-1.35% and with atractylone as the main component, along with smaller amounts of other lactones having similar structure. The differences in chemical composition help confirm that the two herbs (cangzhu and baizhu) may have differing properties, further justifying their separation in the Materia Medica.
Since white atractylodes has little essential oil, and even less of it after being fried (the heat drives off or destroys volatile components), other active ingredients may be present to explain its functions. A component called atractylenolide (a group of sesquiterpene lactones; three noted thus far) is found in baizhu; this component increases with frying of the herb (highest in lightly fried herb, which has turned yellowish, not brown). In terms of the atractylodes effects, it is thought that these components may serve as antispasmodic agents, thus reducing intestinal contractions associated with diarrhea. Diuretic action, measured in laboratory animal experiments, has been attributed to both volatile and non-volatile compounds of atractylodes, including ß-eudesmol, sesquiterpene lactones, and polyacetylenes
Atractylodes refers mainly to Atractylodes macrocephala (macro = big; cephala = head; so, big-headed atractylodes) known in Chinese as baizhu. Less frequently used is Atractylodes lancea (lancea = lance-like, so lance-leaved atractylodes) or its less-desirable (somewhat weaker) substitutes, such as A. chinensis, A. japonicum, and A. ovata, known in Chinese as cangzhu (see plant photos below). The basic term zhu was the only one used when atractylodes was first recorded in the ancient Shennong Bencao Jing (ca. 100 A.D.); the division between these two related herb materials first occurred in the Mingyi Bielu (ca. 500 A.D.). At that time, the tuber-like rhizomes of these plants were specified as either baizhu (bai = white) and chizhu (chi = red), referring to the color observed in the sliced rhizomes, the red being due to spots of accumulated oils. Later,chizhu was renamed cangzhu (cang = gray or black), which refers to the appearance of the outer skin of the rhizome, a dark gray-black color.
Rhizomes with rootlets and stems, freshly pulled Atractylodes lancea.
Dried, whole rhizomes of Atractylodes macrocephala with rootlets and stems removed.
Related Chinese herbal formulas
This herb is widely used in TCM practice. Only in Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Febrile Diseases) and Jin Gui Yao Lue (Synopsis of Golden Chamber), it has been enlisted in 35 formulas. The list can be much longer if taking all later formulas into consideration. However, just a few of them are shared here just for your reference.
(1). Li Zhong Tang or Wan, from Shang Han Lun, has four ingredient herbs. The other three are Ren Shen (Ginseng), Gan Cao (Licorice), and Gan Jiang (Dried Ginger). It is mainly used for epigastric distention and pain and difficulty in urination.
(2). Si Jun Zi Tang, from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Bureau of People’s Welfare Pharmacy), exchanges Fu Ling (Poria) for Gan Jiang on the basis of Li Zhong Tang or Wan. Its indications are pale complexion, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, fatigue, light-colored tongue with white coating, and weak pulse. This formula is derived from the famous Li Zhong Wan. It is well known that Gan Jiang rescues devastated yang for its warm nature while Fu Ling is much mild. Thus the whole formula has changed its nature and they turn into four gentleman.
(3). Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Bureau of People’s Welfare Pharmacy), is the formula that add Shan Yao (Chinese Yam), Lian Zi (Lotus Seed), Bai Bian Dou (Hyacinth Bean), Yi Yi Ren (Seeds of Job’s Tears), Sha Ren (Cardamon), and Jie Geng (Balloon Flower Rhizome) on the basis of Si Jun Zi Tang. It is typically used for excessive damp due to spleen deficiency. According to interpromotion of Five Elements, it is a typical application of reinforcing earth to generate metal. By the way, its other forms like Pian (tablet) and Wan (teapills) are popular over-the-counter drugs in China up to this day.
(4). Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang, from Yi Xue Xin Wu (Medical Revelations), is mainly used for abnormal ascending of phlegm and retained fluid, palpitation caused by excessive phlegm, dizziness and headache. Besides the mentioned three herbs, others are Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel), Fu Ling (Poria), Gan Cao, Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger Rhizome), Da Zao (Chinese Date, Jujube), and Man Jing Zi (Vitex Fruit Seed).
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- Huang Bingshan and Wang Yuxia, Thousand Formulas and Thousand Herbs of Traditional Chinese Medicine, vol. 2, 1993 Heilongjiang Education Press, Harbin.
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- He Shanan and Sheng Ning, Utilization and conservation of medicinal plants in China with special reference to Atractylodes lancea, 1995 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
CHINESE HERBS…….ASTRAGALUS HUANG QI, an immune system booster, known to stimulate body´s natural production of interferon
ASTRAGALUS HUANG QI
A Chinese herb; an immune system booster, known to stimulate body´s natural production of interferon. It also helps the immune system identify rogue cells. Work with the herb in both cancer and AIDS cases has been encouraging. The MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas conducted research showing that taking Astragalus when having Radiotherapy doubled survival times.
Astragalus is a large genus of about 3,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae and the subfamily Faboideae. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milkvetch (most species), locoweed (in North America, some species) and goat’s-thorn (A. gummifer, A. tragacanthus). Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like.
Astragalus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including many case-bearing moths of the genus Coleophora: C. cartilaginella, C. colutella, C. euryaula, and C. onobrychiella feed exclusively on Astragalus, C. astragalella and C. gallipennella feed exclusively on the species Astragalus glycyphyllos, and C. hippodromica is limited to Astragalus gombo.
The natural gum tragacanth is made from several species of Astragalus occurring in the Middle East, including A. adscendens, A. gummifer, A. brachycalyx, and A. tragacanthus. Also Astragalus propinquus (syn. A. membranaceus) has a history of use as a herbal medicine used in systems of traditional Chinese medicine. and Persian medicine 
popular qi tonic (especially the wei qi), these large roots of Astragalus are sweet and slightly warm in energy. Our roots are cut from long robust plants with a nice yellow colored pith, that possess a nice sweetness when chewed.
Biotechnology firms are working on deriving a telomerase activator from Astragalus. The chemical constituent cycloastragenol (also called TAT2) is being studied to help combat HIV, as well as infections associated with chronic diseases or aging. However, the National Institutes of Health states: “The evidence for using astragalus for any health condition is limited. High-quality clinical trials (studies in people) are generally lacking. There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that astragalus, either alone or in combination with other herbs, may have potential benefits for the immune system, heart, and liver, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer”.
Research at the UCLA AIDS Institute focused on the function of cycloastragenol in the aging process of immune cells, and its effects on the cells’ response to viral infections. It appears to increase the production of telomerase, an enzyme that mediates the replacement of short bits of DNA known as telomeres, which play a key role in cell replication, including in cancer processes.
Extracts of Astragalus propinquus ( syn. A. membranaceus) are marketed as life-prolonging extracts for human use. A proprietary extract of the dried root of A. membranaceus, called TA-65, “was associated with a significant age-reversal effect in the immune system, in that it led to declines in the percentage of senescent cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells after six to twelve months of use”. There are mixed data regarding Astragalus, its effects on telomerase, and cancer. For example while 80% of cancer cells utilize telomerase for their proliferation – a factor which might theoretically be exacerbated by Astragalus – the shortening of telomeres (resulting from such factors as stress and aging and possible contributors to malignancy), might also be mitigated by Astragalus. Thus, short telomeres result in chromosome instability, and the potential for telomere lengthening as a protection against cancer is possible. Additionally, scientists recently reported in Molecular and Cellular Biology that cancer cells may proliferate precisely because of the lack of differentiation occurring via damaged or shortened telomere length. They propose that “forced” elongation of telomeres promotes the differentiation of cancer cells, probably reducing malignancy, which is strongly associated with a loss of cell differentiation.
Side effects and toxicology
Astragalus may interact with medications that suppress the immune system, such as cyclophosphamide. It may also affect blood sugar levels andblood pressure. Some Astragalus species can be toxic. For example, several species native to North America contain the neurotoxin swainsonine.The toxicity of Astragalus taxa varies.
Several species, including A. alpinus (bluish-purple flowers), A. hypoglottis (purple flowers), and A. lotoides, are grown as ornamental plants in gardens.
Astragalus ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆 Chinese Herbs Articles
Astragalus ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆 Chinese Herbs Articles also written as 黃芪 also known as: Astragali, Beg Kei, Bei Qi, Buck Qi, Huang Qi, Hwanggi, Membranous Milk Vetch, Milk Vetch, Mongolian Milk, Ogi. Astragalus membranaceus; Astragalus mongholicus. It belong to the Leguminosae or Fabaceae family.
Astragalas ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆 has a sweet taste and a warm properties and it is use for treating the spleen and lung.
Astragalus ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆 Usage:
- tonify spleen & lung Qi – raises Spleen & Stomach Qi (prolapse)
- tonify Wei Qi – stabilize exterior
- tonify Qi and blood due to loss of blood – postpartum fever
- promotes urination – Edema – discharge of pus – generates flesh
Astragalus ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆 Other Use:
1. Orally, Astragalus ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆 is used for treating the common cold and upper respiratory infections; to strengthen and regulate the immune system; and to increase the production of blood cells particularly in individuals with chronic degenerative disease or in individuals with cancer undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It is also used orally for chronic nephritis and diabetes. Astragalus is also used orally as an antibacterial and antiviral; a tonic; liver protectant; anti-inflammatory; antioxidant; and as a diuretic, vasodilator, or hypotensive agent.
2. Topically, Astragalus ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆 is used as a vasodilator and to speed healing.
3. In combination with Ligustrum lucidum (glossy privet), astragalus is used orally for treating breast, cervical, and lung cancers.
Astragalus ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆 Use Cautions:
There are many varieties of astragalus ( Huang Qi ) 黃耆. Some are toxic. The varieties used in Chinese herbal medicine is relatively safe but in rare cases it might cause rash.
Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus) Root
Our freshly harvested root are completely chemical free and extremely high quality to preserve all of its benefits.
Traditional & Modern Use:
Huang Qi root is harvested white but becomes a pale yellow. The roots are a staple in Chinese medicine praised for its energizing effects. The root pieces can be simmered for long periods of time and served as a tea or soup but the root pieces are too tough to chew so they are not consumed unless powdered. The roots are a very powerful herb for aiding the kidneys as well as a preventative medicine for senility. Chinese holistic healers also believe strongly that the regular use of Astralagus rejuvinates debilitated patients and fights off serious disease. News studies in the West have now begun to show some amazing results in the treatment of cancer and that the root can restore normal immune function in cancer patients. Impressively, patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy recover much quicker and can live longer when using the root simultaneously to their treatments.
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- Large list of species
- Very large list of species (with synonyms).
- Astragalus at a Glance This fact sheet from the U.S. National Institutes of Health provides basic information about Astragalus – common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.
- Astragalus alpinus This Rare Species Guide profile from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides information about the basis for the species’ listing, habitat, biology and life history, conservation and management, and conservation efforts.
- Chinese Milkvetch, Astragalus membranaceus, Kansas State University
- Astragalus Root