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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Chinese Thistle Daisy

All 7 species are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The one that is mentioned most frequently is A. macrocephala which was first recorded in the Tang Materia Medica in 659 A.D.

PROPAGATION: By seed sown in spring.
NEEDS: Any well-drained soil in sun or part shade.
HARVEST: Rhizomes are lifted in autumn and baked for use in tonics.

Atractylodes alba
No Image Available

CONTAINS: Essentially comprised of atractylon (C14H18O) and atractylol (15H26O)


Bitter, sweet, warm, Chi tonic, diuretic, carminative; affects spleen and stomach.
Combined with specially prepared aconite, ginger, and cinnamon bark to make a powerful internally warming formula for raising the metabolism in yin-cold conditions. CAUTION NOTE: ACONITE IS A DANGEROUSLY POISONOUS HERB and special processing, as done in Chinese medicine, is essential to ensure its safety. This is accomplished by a 3-fold series of soaks involving vinegar; see Aconite.
Tonifies digestion and has been used to counteract fatigue, diarrhea, lack of appetite and vomiting.
Has been used for fluid retention accompanied by low energy and involuntary sweating caused by low energy; also used to treat chronic gastroenteritis.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
3-12 grams.

Atractylodes chinensis
[cang zhu]
No Image Available

CONTAINS: Essential oil contains atractylol and atractylon.


Anti-dyspeptic, aromatic, diuretic, stimulant
A. chinensis, A. lancea and A. macrocephala have been used in cases of nightblindness due to their vitamin A potency.

Atractylodes lancea
[cang zhu]


Dried root has been used for dyspepsia, eczema, edema, and nyctalopia.
The rhizomes are strongly phototoxic to Candida albicans, E. coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (wine, beer and bread yeast; also known as bakers, brewer's and wine yeast)
In Chinese medicine, this herb forms part of two different formulas to treat male infertility.

Atractylodes macrocephela

Native from Manchuria and Korea to northern and eastern China and Japan.

CONTAINS: High in atractylone but low in or devoid of atractylodine.

PART USED: Rhizomes/roots; usually taken as decoction or tincture.

Tonic, bittersweet, diuretic, sedative, mild purgative, lowers blood sugar levels, controls bacterial infections, carminative; acts mainly on digestive system; extracts are anti-viral.
Has been used to treat loss of appetite, indigestion, chronic bronchitis, anemia during pregnancy and nightblindness.
Has an important anti-cancer reputation in China for cervical, mammary, stomach and uterine tumors; has shown definite antitumor activity in rodents.
Said to calm a restless fetus.
Has been used internally for weak and disturbed digestion; often combined with Wolfiporia cocos (a subterranean fungus), Codonopsis tangshen and Glycyrrhiza uralensis (Chinese licorice) in tonic formulas; also combined with Scutellaria baicalensis (a variety of skullcap) as a blood tonic in pregnancy.
Has been used as an energy tonic for spleen and stomach; helps to regulate "chi" or "qi" and strengthen lower limbs.
Has been combined with ban xia and chen pi for stomach weakness; also combined with cinnamon and fu ling (Wolfiporia cocos) for lung problems.
Decoction has been used for abdominal and chest tightness, anemia, chills, diarrhea, dyspepsia, edema, gastroenteritis, nausea, rheumatism, and splenitis.
The rhizome has been decocted with other aromatics for anemia, coughs, bronchitis, diarrhea, dysuria, eczema, edema, gasping, gastroenteritis, jaundice, nausea, nightsweats, and vertigo.
Has been powdered and taken with Citrus for anorexia and dyspepsia.
Has been used as a sedative during pregnancy.
The rhizome extract is strongly phototoxic to Saccharomyces cerevisiae (beer, wine and bread yeast; also called brewer's, baker's or wine yeast).

Oil from the plant is used in perfumery.

Atractylodes ovata
[pai shu]

PART USED: Roots; effective in liquid and powdered extract and tea.

Organ toning and balancing with particular benefit for kidneys, spleen and pancreas.
Has been primarily used as a beneficial diuretic that will not exhaust the kidneys; used also as an astringent herb in controlling diarrhea, stomach bloating and gastroenteritis.
Has been used to treat indigestion, skin problems, diarrhea, fever, stomach disorders, and night blindness

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH