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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 Bellflower, Kikio root
(Platycodon grandiflorus[m])

CONTAINS: Betulin (antitumor), delphinidin-3-di-caffeoylrutinoside-5-glucoside, inulin, kikyosaponin, platycodigenin, platycogenic acid, polygalacic acid, alpha-spinasterol, and alpha-spinasterol-beta-D-glucoside are present.
Kikyo sapogenin from the roots is a hemolytic poison if ingested, irritating the mucous membranes and the respiratory tract.
Roots (based on zero moisture) contain per 100g: 379 calories, 3.2% protein, 1.2% fat, 93.7% total carbohydrate, 11.7% fiber, 2.0g ash, 306mg calcium, 249mg phosphorus, 8.2mg iron, 0.13mg thiamine, 0.47mg riboflavin, 10.3mg niacin, no vitamin A or C like the leaves of Codonopsis lanceolata.

An erect ornamental plant with red stems. Native to China and Japan and is commonly cultivated throughout the temperate regions of the earth. The flowers are large and showy and range from dark to pale blue, to white and are usually solitary on a long stalk. The name is derived from the inflated looking flower buds which resemble balloons or bells. The genus name in Greek means "broad bell" and the specific name (grandiflorus) means "large flower".
It has a long history of use in Chinese medicine and is mentioned in the "Shen Nong Canon of Herbs" during the Han dynasty (206BC-AD23). It is used in patent remedies and sold as platycodi cough tablets. It is so revered in China that there is a stamp commemorating it.

PROPAGATION: By seed in autumn or spring or by basal cuttings of nonflowering shoots in summer. Seedlings are very fragile and are best planted while dormant.
NEEDS: Rich, well-drained sandy soil in sun.
HARVEST: Roots are lifted in spring or autumn from plants 2 to 3 years old, then peeled and used fresh or dried for decoctions and powders.
PART USED: Root; usually taken as a tea or tincture.


Antibacterial, antifungal, expectorant, demulcent, lowers blood sugar; bitter, pungent, warming; dilates bronchial vessels; expectorant and effective against a number of disease-causing organisms; antiasthmatic, astringent, carminative, sedative; has shown analgesic, anticholinergic, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, expectorant and hypotensive activity and completely inhibits gastric secretions in pylorus-ligated rats with all such effects being reported in humans also.
Affects lung and stomach.
Extracts have shown anti-tumor activity in animals.
Saponins have shown anti-inflammatory and CNS-suppressing effects.
Japanese use the root extract in several patent medicines for bronchitis and other respiratory ailments and studies confirm its anti-cough and expectorant activities. Loosens phlegm, aids in elimination of pus in upper parts of body. Sometimes added in small amounts to formulas to direct the therapeutic action of other herbs to the upper parts of the body.
Has been used internally for coughs with profuse phlegm, colds, bronchitis, pleurisy, pulmonary abscess and throat infections (combined with Glycyrrhiza uralensis), hoarseness, heaviness in chest, chest and side pain, throat abcess, tonsillitis, gum ulcers, asthma, flu, pneumonia. (A combinaton with platycodon has been used for sore throat and lack of vitality in cases where licorice fails to improve the conditions after a few days of treatment)
Has been also used for sloughing ulcers and suppuration; the powdered plant has been used in carcinomatus sores.
Leaves and stems have been used for dyspeptic vomiting of mucous.
Roots have been used as a stomach tonic for indigestion and eaten in soup as a tonic vegetable in Korea; has also used to remove excessive gas in the system; expel intestinal worms, treat stomach ulcers, dysentery, cholera, abdominal pain, nausea.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
Standard decoction, or 3 to 9 grams.

Blanched young leaves eaten in salads.
Edible root in soups.
Roots are pickled and preserved in sugar.

©2000 & 2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH