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Pubescent angelica roots

Chinese: 独活

Pinyin: Dú Huó

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Bladder Kidney

Scientific name: Angelica pubescens

Other names: Angelica Du Huo

Use of pubescent angelica roots (Du Huo) 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, slice, dry at low temperatures.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Disperses Wind, Cold, Dampness. Relieves pain. Relieves Lesser Yang (Shao Yang) headache.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which pubescent angelica roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Back pain Knee pain Headache Rheumatism Common cold Toothache

Contraindications*: Do not use when there is Yin Deficiency with Heat signs.

Common TCM formulas in which pubescent angelica roots (Du Huo) are used*

Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 15 herbs

Formula key actions: Anti-rheumatic, clears Wind, Cold and Damp Stagnation. Strengthens the function of the Liver and Kidney. Tonifies Qi and Blood.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic lower back painSciatica and others

Du Huo is a king ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, Du Huo expels Wind, Dampness, and Cold from the Lower-Burner, bones, and sinews.

Read more about Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang

Key TCM concepts behind pubescent angelica roots (Du Huo)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), pubescent angelica roots are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness' category. These herbs typically help treat what's called 'bi pain' (i.e. painful obstruction) in TCM. This roughly corresponds to arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles.

Furthermore pubescent angelica roots are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that pubescent angelica roots tend 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 pubescent angelica roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Pubescent angelica roots also taste Bitter and 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. Bitter ingredients like pubescent angelica roots tend 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 Pungent ingredients tend 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 pubescent angelica roots are thought to target the Bladder and the Kidney. 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. 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.

Research on pubescent angelica roots (Du Huo)

The anti-inflammatory and analgesic principle from the root of Angelica pubescens was identified as osthol.1

The root of Angelica pubescens has anti-inflammatory and analgesic constituents.2


1. T Kosuge, M Yokota, K Sugiyama et al. (1985). Studies on Bioactive Substances in Crude Drugs Used for Arthritic Diseases in Traditional Chinese Medicine. II. Isolation and Identification of an Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Principle from the Root of Angelica pubescens MAXIM. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 33(12), p. 5351-5354. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1248/cpb.33.5351

2. Yuh-Fung Chen, Huei-Yann Tsai, Tian-Shung Wu (1995). Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Activities from Roots of Angelica pubescens. Planta Med, 61(1): 2-8. DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-957987