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Bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense, Bupleurum falcatum)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Apiaceae (family), bei chai hu, beichaihu, bupleuran 2IIc, Bupleurumchinense D.C., Bupleurum exaltatum, Bupleurum falcatum, Bupleurum fruticosum L., Bupleurumginghausenii, Bupleurumlongifolium, Bupleurummultinerve, Bupleurum octoradiatum, bupleuri radix (Latin), Bupleurum root, Bupleurum rotundifolium L., Bupleurum scorzonerifolium Willd., Bupleurum stewartianum, chai hu, chaifu, chaihu (Chinese), chai hu chaiku-saiko, Chinese thoroughwax root, echinocystic acid 3-O-sulfate, hare's ear root, He Jie Decoction, hejie decoction, hydroxysaikosaponins, isochaihulactone, juk-siho, kara-saiko, Minor Bupleurum Decoction, mishima-saiko, nanchaihu, northern Chinese thorowax root, phenylpropanoids, radix bupleuri, saiko (Japanese), saikospanonins, segl-hareore (Danish) shi ho, shoku-saiko, sho-saiko-to, shrubby hare's-ear, sickle-leaf hare's-ear, siho (Korean), thorowax, thoroughwax, TJ-9, triterpene saponins, Umbelliferae (family), wa-saiko, xiao chai hu tang, yamasaiko.
  • Note: Bupleurum falcatum root is used in combination with Paeonia lactiflora root, Pinellia ternata rhizome, Cinnamomum cassia (cassia) bark, Zingiber officinale (ginger) rhizome, Zizyphus jujuba (jujube) fruit, Panax ginseng (Asian ginseng) root, Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese scullcap) root, and Glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) rhizome in traditional Chinese medicine (where the formula is called xiao-chai-hu-tang) and Japanese Kampo (where it is called sho-saiko-to) to treat a variety of conditions. This formula is generally known as Minor Bupleurum Decoction. As the effect of Bupleurum is inseparable from effects of other potentially active constituents of xiao-chai-hu-tan/sho-saiko-to, it is difficult to attribute the apparent benefits of these formulas in a number of conditions to Bupleurum per se. However, because there is some promising early clinical evidence of efficacy for these formulas in the treatment and prevention of hepatitis-associated liver disease, we have included a number of the studies of the combination preparations in this review.
  • Note: Essential oils and saponins from Bupleurum fruticescens have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties (1;2;3;4). The taxonomic and pharmacologic relationship of this plant with Bupleurum falcatum and Bupleurum chinense is currently unclear and is therefore not discussed in detail in this monograph.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Bupleurum, which resembles dill and fennel but has lanceate instead of lacy leaves, has been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years as a "liver tonic" with "spleen- and stomach-toning" properties, purportedly efficacious in treating fevers, flu-like syndromes, cough, female gynecological disorders, and inflammation. Its root is an important ingredient in xiao-chai-hu-tan/sho-saiko-to, also known as Minor Bupleurum Decoction, a combination of nine herbs, including ginseng, ginger, and licorice, which is used in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbal medicine for hepatitis and cirrhosis.
  • Clinical studies have suggested that this combination may be effective in the treatment of hepatitis B (5;6;7;8) and in the prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma (9). The mixture has also shown some promise in vitro and in animal studies as a hepatoprotective agent (10;11;12;13;14) and as an adjuvant in the treatment of HIV infection (15;16;17).

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.