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Jeannie Randall
Bupleurum gibraltaricum

Bupleurum is an ancient Chinese herb that has modern potential as a naturopathic supplement. There is much research to support the use of bupleurum as a great supplement to support overall health and fight disease.


Bupleurum is native to East Asia. It has long been incorporated in Chinese medicine and has many healing qualities. Another name for this herb is Chinese thoroughwax or Chai Hu. The plant grows throughout East Asia and does not do well in cold weather. Bupleurum can grow to be about a foot tall and blooms in the fall with bright, yellow flowers. The medicinal qualities of the plant come from the dried plant root.

Medicinal Uses

The August, 2006 edition of Experimental Toxicology published a detailed compilation of research surrounding Bupleurum rich formulations and their role in disease prevention and health maintenance. The researcher's findings, after looking at multiple clinical trials, was that bupleurum-rich formulations can play an important role in maintaining health and treating many diseases. Clinical trials have shown bupleurum-rich formulations to be effective in treating:

  • Asthma
  • High cholesterol
  • Respiratory infections
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Liver disorders
  • Hepatitis
  • Cancer
  • Swelling and edema

In some instances, bupleurum has been shown to be as effective as certain prescription medicines. For example, a pharmacological study on the anti-inflammatory and diuretic effect of a bupleurum-rich formulation revealed results comparable to that of the Western counterparts, thiazide and furosemide (two commonly prescribed anti-diuretic medications).

Side Effects

More research is needed to determine potential side effects of bupleurum. According to WebMD there are some precautions and considerations to take into account when considering the use of bupleurum.

  • May cause intestinal gas and increased bowel motility.
  • Avoid if you have any history of autoimmune disease such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Avoid if you have any history of bleeding disorders or recent surgery, as bupleurum may slow blood clotting.
  • Serious lung complications may occur when taken in combination with certain Japanese herbs.
  • Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Where to Purchase

Bupleurum supplements are available at many area nutritional centers and can also be found for purchase online. There is no agreed upon recommended daily allowance of bupleurum, but most manufacturers will provide a suggested daily dosage. Bupleurum can be bought as a standalone supplement or in combination with other supplements. You can find suppliers bupleurum root liquid and capsule formulations. The Chinese Herbal Dictionary also cites that bupleurum can be ground into a powder and used to make an herbal tea.

  • The Vitamin Shop offers a 30-day supply of liquid bupleurum root that is to be mixed with water for about $12.
  • offers a bupleurum, dragon bone combination supplement. One-hundred capsules are available for about $16 with a suggested daily intake of three capsules.

Consult Your Primary Care Provider

It is known that bupleurum can have some dangerous side effects in people with certain underlying medical conditions. Bupleurum can also cause negative effects when combined with certain medications and herbal supplements. As with any addition to your health regime, you should always consult with your primary care provider. Make sure to discuss any underlying health problems and disclose any medications or supplements you may be taking before taking bupleurum.

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