Szechuan lovage roots

Chinese: 川芎

Pinyin: Chuān Xiōng

Parts used: Dried rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiverPericardium

Scientific name: Ligusticum chuanxiong

Use of szechuan lovage roots (Chuan Xiong) 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 practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities and smaller roots, wash and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which szechuan lovage roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Irregular menstruation Amenorrhea Dysmenorrhea Chest pain Headache Arthralgia

Contraindications*: Not to be used for headaches that occur because of Deficiency of Yin or from raising Liver Yang; it should not be used when there is abnormal bleeding or during pregnancy.

Common TCM formulas in which szechuan lovage roots are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind szechuan lovage roots (Chuan Xiong)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), szechuan lovage roots are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stasis in the case of certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

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

Szechuan lovage roots also taste Pungent. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like szechuan lovage roots 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 szechuan lovage roots are thought to target the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gall Bladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. 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 body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. The Pericardium is also called the "heart protector". It is the first line of defence for the Heart against external pathogenic influences

Research on szechuan lovage roots (Chuan Xiong)

Ligusticum chuanxiong could help treat cardiovascular diseases because it contains ligustilide and senkyunolide A which both have vasorelaxation activities.1.

Sources:

1. SSK Chan, TY Cheng, G Lin (2007). Relaxation effects of ligustilide and senkyunolide A, two main constituents of Ligusticum chuanxiong, in rat isolated aorta. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 111(3), p. 677-680. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2006.12.018