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Atractylodes (白术)
02-24-2011, 12:18 PM
Post: #1
Atractylodes (白术)
Pharmaceutical Latin
Atractylodis Macrocephalae, Rhizoma

Other Name

Atmospheric Energy

Bitter, Sweet and Pungent

Organ Meridian Systems
Spleen and Stomach

[Image: med_022_01.jpg]

Part Used and Form
Thick slices of the sun dried rhizome

Primary Functions
Qi tonic. Aids digestion. Invigorates the Yang.

Atractylodes is one of the most important and commonly used herbs used in Chinese Tonic herbalism. It is found in the majority of formulations that are designed to build qi. Though the herb is not rare and therefore is not expensive, it is highly regarded.

White Atractylodes is a powerful Qi tonic, almost in the same category of importance with other Qi tonics such as Astragalus and Codonopsis. In some ways, it may be more powerful even than Ginseng as an energy tonic. Many people find that Atractylodes provides more energy more quickly than Panax Ginseng. The point is somewhat moot however, since the two herbs are almost always used together. While rapidly and effectively building Qi, White Atractylodes also invigorates the Yang energy of the body, providing power and strength to the body. In particular, it invigorates the Yang energy of the Spleen so that digestion is more efficient.

It is widely used to strengthen digestion and assimilation and to move moisture through the body. It is capable of regulating the appetite by increasing the appetite of those who are weak and by reducing appetite in those who overzealous. In either case, White Atractylodes will help improve digestive efficiency. Hard physical activity performed while consuming White Atractylodes will result in muscle growth. It has a reputation as one of the primary herbs to be used by athletes to build powerful muscle and to provide endurance. This is perhaps in most popular usage in this era of tonic herbalism. In addition, White Atractylodes, because of its Yang invigorating quality, can be used for weak marital drive and is sometimes used with Yang tonics for this purpose..

People with weak digestive systems will generally benefit greatly, and quickly, from this herb. It will be useful for people who tend to experience diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, vomiting and fatigue, especially during the summer or in hot climates. It is commonly used in formulas for edema, phlegm retention and vertigo as well, all of which are associated with poor fluid movement in the body, a condition that White Atractylodes will help rectify.

[Image: med_022_02.jpg]

White Atractylodes is one of the herbs widely consumed in China by pregnant women in order to protect the fetus and to strengthen the mother. It is especially useful for women who are low in Qi and thus experience fatigue, digestive problems and anemia.

The herb has been shown to be effective for constipation after childbirth or gynecological operation when combined with Prepared Rehmannia in a 2:1 ratio.

White Atractylodes can help relieve excessive fetal movement. In case of weakness due to qi or blood deficiency, it can be combined with Ginseng and/or Eucommia bark. In case of heat syndrome, it should be combined with Scutellaria. In the case of cold syndrome, it should be combined with Artemisia

Scientific Data
A wide range of pharmacological studies have been conducted to determine the tonic action of Atractylodes macrocephala and Atractylodes ovata. Atractylodes increased the body weight and swimming endurance of mice. The herb increases the phagocytic function of the reticuloendothelial system. It increases leukocytes in patients with leukopenia. Atractylodes macrocephala increases the lymphocyte transformation and rosette formation rates, promoting cellular immunity and markedly increases serum IgG. These results taken together support the traditional classification of Atractylodes macrocephala rhizome as a Spleen tonic which fortifies qi, strengthening the body constitution and increasing the resistance to disease.

Pharmacological and human clinical studies have shown that the herb has a diuretic action in patients with edema, but has little or no diuretic action in normal subjects. It has been shown to have mild hypoglycemic and liver protective action in pharmacological studies.

It has been shown to have no effect on the central nervous system, a characteristic which distinguishes the tonic herb from its relative Atractylodes lancea (Red Atractylodes). Red Atractylodes is commonly used in Chinese herbalism as a potent diuretic, but not as a tonic herb.

White Atractylodes has been found to induce the production in human beings of a-interferon.

Primary Combinations
White Atractylodes is never used alone. Combine with:

1. Ginseng Root, Codonopsis, Licorice Root and Astragalus to tonify the Spleen, build qi
2. Ginseng and Poria to tonify the Spleen’s water transformation and transportation activities
3. Ginseng Root and Dried Ginger for cold Stomach manifesting as indigestion

[Image: med_022_03.jpg]

7g - 15g

Varieties and Grading
There is just a small range of quality in White Atractylodes. Large, clean, light colored slices rich in aroma are best. Be sure not to get White Atractylodes confused with Red Atractylodes, which usually is smaller the White Atractylodes and is a brick red-brownish color. Red Atractylodes (Atractylodes lancea) does not the tonic action of White Atractylodes. Red Atractylodes is a powerful diuretic used widely in medicinal Chinese herbalism.

Do not use excessively if dehydrated.
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