Eucommia bark, known in Chinese as du zhong, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Eucommia bark comes from the Eucommia tree, native to China. Although there is debate as to whether or not the tree still grows in the wild, it is grown commercially for its latex content, ornamental and medicinal benefits.
Eucommia bark is harvested from trees at least ten years old. Small sections of outer bark are peeled off, revealing the rubbery inner bark responsible for the herb's impressive medicinal benefits.
Traditionally, eucommia bark has been used in Chinese medicine as an overall strengthening tonic. Dr. Mao Shing Ni, a 38th-generation doctor of Chinese medicine, states on his website that eucommia bark is primarily used as a kidney tonic. In addition, he states the bark treats the following conditions:
- Lower back pain
- Aching knees
- Frequent urination
- Genital itching
- Helps prevent miscarriage
In-depth clinical trials determined that a tea containing eucommia bark and leaves -- a staple in China -- reduces pre-hypertension and mild hypertension without negative side effects. In addition, the results of one study suggest eucommia may even significantly reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.
Dosage and Forms
Eucommia bark can be taken as an extract, tea or in pill or powder form. When found in pill form, the bark is often combined with additional, complementary Chinese herbs. When used as tea, its taste is slightly bitter. Eucommia bark's healing properties are most potent when stir-baked (stir-fried). Eucommia may also be used in tinctures and decoctions.
The traditional dosage of eucommia bark in any form is up to 15 grams per day. This can be divided and taken throughout the day or in one dose.
Side Effects and Precautions
There are no known side effects of eucommia bark. However, since the bark contains latex, people with latex allergies may wish to avoid using the herb. Although there are no known cases of a eucommia allergy to someone sensitive to latex, the possibility does exist.
According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, there are no known studies on interactions between Western pharmaceuticals and eucommia bark. As a result, if you take prescription medications, it's critical that you consult your doctor before using the herb. Due to eucommia bark's potential to lower blood pressure, this is especially important if you take blood pressure medications.
Where to Find
When purchasing eucommia bark, you'll want to buy from reputable sources to ensure quality and purity. When buying whole bark, look for stir-baked, 100 percent wild bark. Because the herb is just beginning to become popular in the Western world, it can be challenging (but not impossible) to find.
You'll likely find eucommia bark at your local natural health store but you can also find it online. Here are some options to consider:
- Eucommia Bark Powder: This powder can be combined with water to make tea or added to smoothies and shakes. 50 grams costs $24.95 plus shipping.
- Kan Herbs Eucommia Bark Extract: Eucommia extract can be taken alone or added to hot water or tea. A one ounce bottle costs $34.19 plus shipping.
- Tian Qi Du Zhong Wan: This herbal blend combines eucommia with ginseng to create a potent natural remedy. 200 pills cost $15.35 plus shipping.
- Triple Leaf Tea Eucommia Blend: While this herbal tea blend doesn't contain eucommia bark, it does have eucommia leaf which is also a powerful Chinese medicinal ingredient. A box of 20 tea bags costs $4.95 plus shipping.
A Safe and Beneficial Herb
Over the last few decades, there's been a surge of interest in traditional Chinese medicine by people in the Western world, and for good reason. Time and time again, studies show Chinese herbal remedies have strong healing benefits, and eucommia bark is a perfect example. No matter how it's taken, the bark seems to have positive effects on the body and shows great promise for future medicinal use.
As always, before using any herbal remedy to treat illness, please consult your doctor or a certified natural health practitioner, especially if you take prescription drugs or have an underlying medical condition.