English: Japanese teasel roots

Chinese: 续断

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterSour

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Dispsacus asperoides

Use of Xu Duan (japanese teasel 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: After excavation, extract the roots and fibrous roots and bake them on low heat until semi-dry. Stack them to "sweat" until the inside turns green before completely drying.

Dosage: 6 - 18 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys. Assists in the healing of bones. Both stops bleeding and moves Blood. Calms the foetus.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Xu Duan may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Joint stiffness Sore lower back Sore knees Fractures Tendons injuries Abnormal uterine bleeding Traumatic injuries Restless foetus Uterine bleeding during pregnancy Threatened miscarriage Arthralgia Menorrhagia Menorrhalgia

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Yin Deficiency with signs of Heat.

Common TCM formulas in which Xu Duan is used*

An Tai Zhu Gao

Source date: 1879 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthens the Qi and Blood. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys. Calms the fetus.

Conditions targeted*: Restless fetus and others

Xu Duan is a deputy ingredient in An Tai Zhu Gao. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In An Tai Zhu Gao, Xu Duan calms the fetus.

Read more about An Tai Zhu Gao

Key TCM concepts behind Xu Duan's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Xu Duan belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yang Tonics are generally used in combination with a small amount of Yin tonics. If Yin is deficient, neither Qi nor Yang herbs alone will be effective. The most common symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency are low libido and impotence. It is worth mentioning that another very effective remedy against Yang Deficiency is regular exercise.

Furthermore Xu Duan is Warm in nature. This means that Xu Duan 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 Xu Duan can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Xu Duan also tastes Bitter and Sour. 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. Bitter ingredients like Xu Duan tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Sour ingredients help with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Xu Duan is thought to target the Kidney and the Liver. According to TCM, the Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on Xu Duan

Jiangtang Bushen Recipe (which contain Xu Duan) can improve insulin resistance and alleviate clinical symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.1


1. Fan GJ, Tang XY, Li SL. (2006). Effects of Jiangtang Bushen Recipe on serum C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 26(4):329-31.