English: Chinese lovage roots

Chinese: 藁本

Parts used: Dried rhizome and root

TCM category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Bladder Lung

Scientific name: Ligusticum sinense or Ligusticum jeholense

Use of Gao Ben (chinese lovage roots) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, moisturize, cut into thick slices and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind. Disperses Cold and relieves pain. Disperses Wind-Damp-Cold painful obstruction.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Gao Ben may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Headache Rheumatic athralgia Toothache Abdominal pain Rheumatism Rheumatoid arthritis Arthritis

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used for those who are Yin Deficient with Heat signs nor by those with Blood Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which Gao Ben is used*

Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang

Source date: 1247 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Expels wind and dampness.

Conditions targeted*: Rheumatic feverUpper respiratory tract infections and others

Gao Ben is a deputy ingredient in Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang, Gao Ben expel Wind Damp from the Exterior aspects of the Greater Yang Channel. It also assist one of the key herbs Notopterygium root in treating headache. 

Read more about Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang

Xin Yi San

Source date: 1253 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Wind-Cold. Unblocks the nasal passages.

Conditions targeted*: Nasal congestionAllergic rhinitis and others

Gao Ben is a deputy ingredient in Xin Yi San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Xin Yi San, Gao Ben disperses Wind-Cold-Dampness and stops pain. It has an ascending nature so has to enter the Bladder Channel on the head to ease headache around the vertex. 

Read more about Xin Yi San

Key TCM concepts behind Gao Ben's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Gao Ben belongs to the 'Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Warm/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by increasing the flow of sweat to our capillary pores. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category Gao Ben is Warm in nature. This means that Gao Ben tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Gao Ben can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Gao Ben also tastes Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like Gao Ben tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Gao Ben is thought to target the Bladder and the Lung. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.