What Is Chang Shan Herb Its Benefits

From the standpoint of TCM, Chang Shan refers to the root of Dichroa febrifuga Lour. a saxifragaceae plant. It mainly grows in Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan, and Hubei provinces in China. Usually it is harvested in fall. Before the use, it needs to have fibrous roots removed, washed, dried, or prepared with wine or vinegar.

What is Changshan used for?

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that Chang Shan is bitter, acrid, and cold in nature. It covers three meridians, such as heart, liver, and lung. It is mainly used for stopping malaria and prompting to throw up sputum in the chest. Main uses and indications are the syndrome of water and phlegm retention in chest and malaria-induced fever. And typical dosage is from 4.5 to 9 grams, in the form of decoction. And less dosage should be used in the forms of pills and powder. In addition, unprocessed Changshan root is better in stimulating vomiting, while wine-prepared one is better in preventing malaria. In addition, to maximize its healing property, it’s better to be taken half a day or 2 hours before the onset of malaria

There is an old saying “No phlegm no malaria.” Chang Shan herb, a main antimalarial, is good at eliminating phlegm and thus stopping malaria. It is widely used in a variety of malaria, especially tertian fever and quartan ague. The typical herbal formulas containing this herb are as follows.

Sheng Jain Wan

This prescription is from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary). It cures all types of malaria that manifests alternating episodes of chills and fever and occurring at set times. Main herbs are powders of Changshan, soaked in wine and steamed, and Bing Lang;

Changshan Yin

This formula is from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It specializes in treating chills and fever in malaria, or onset every two or three days. This herb is usually combined with Hou Po, Cao Dou Kou, Rou Dou Kou, and Bing Lang;

Jie Nue Yin

This prescription is from Yi Zong Bi Du (A Gathering of Ancestral Medicine Which Must be Studied). It is suitable for lasting malaria because of deficiency. Hence, this herb needs to join hand with Huang Qi, Ren Shen, Wu Mei, and more;

Jie Nue Chang Shan Yin

This formula is from Dan Xi Xin Fa (Dan Xi’s Heart Methods of Treatment). It can be a better choice if the lasting malaria has leaded to a lump in the abdomen. Other main herbs are Bie Jia, San Leng, and E Zhu.

Potential dichroa root side effects and contraindications

Studies in modern medicine showed that Chang Shan (dichroa febrifuga root) is a strong emetic, which thus may cause damage to liver and kidney. The typical poisoning symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In severe cases, congestion or hemorrhage in the gastrointestinal mucosa may occur due to the destruction of capillary. Besides, it might also cause heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and cyanosis, drop in blood pressure, and end up with death because of circulatory failure.

TCM wise, Changshan is considered as toxic and good at inducing vomiting. Hence, the dosage should be strictly controlled. And it should beware that this herb is not suitable for the weak and the pregnant.

Chinese Herb “Chang Shan” May Prove Effective For Auto-Immune Disorders

We all know the difference between an apple and a lump of white sugar right?   A whole apple has sugar but it also comes with vitamins, fiber, and water that our bodies can use together with the sugar to fuel our bodies.  Refined sugar, on the other hand, may originally come from a plant, but it’s so concentrated that it’s practically toxic in large quantities, and at the very least comes with a number of side effects.  An apple a day keeps the doctor away – refined sugar… not so much.  On to Chinese Herbal Medicine…

Chinese herbalists have been using bark, roots, seeds, and flowers to treat serious medical conditions for over 2,000 years.  Within one single herb, there are often many compounds that contribute to its therapeutic properties.  From early in their use, Chinese herbs have been combined into formulas where the properties of the herbs complement each other, and one herb might lessen the harsher effects of another herb.  Herbs are rarely given alone, or for one single symptom.  As with all of TCM, herbal formulas are given to address both symptoms and root causes of a disease.  Taken in the right combinations and quantities, they can be helpful for a certain condition with minimal side effects, like eating an apple as a part of a healthy diet that includes vegetables as well.

It is within this context that I want to highlight a new study from Harvard School of Dental Medicine that has isolated molecular properties in the Chinese herb Chang Shan, an herb that TCM uses to treat malaria.  Chang Shan is a plant in the hydrangea family that grows in Tibet and Nepal.  HSDM reports that:  “Recent studies suggest that hallucinogen (HF), a compound derived from this extract’s bioactive ingredient, could be used to treat many autoimmune disorders … [by blocking] the development of a harmful class of immune cells.”  That harmful class of cells is implicated in many autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. The researchers found that minute doses of HF reduced multiple sclerosis in a mouse model.

“HF prevents the autoimmune response without dampening immunity altogether,” said Malcolm Whitman, a professor of developmental biology at Harvard School of Dental Medicine and senior author on the new study. “This compound could inspire novel therapeutic approaches to a variety of autoimmune disorders.”

Yay!  I’m excited about these kinds of developments, both for people who suffer from auto-immune disorders and because it’s great to have some modern understanding of the medicine we’re practicing.  I’m not against the use of pharmaceuticals – indeed Western medicine has brought us great advances – but I will tell you that in my practice I’ve also seen many of the side effects of Western pharmaceuticals on my patients’ health.  While I welcome this news, I am also a bit wary about a pharmaceutical concentration of this isolated compound, and the as-yet-unknown side effects that its long-term use might have.  Chinese Herbal Medicine is a safe and effective means of treating many disorders, and the safe-guards are built in – developed over thousands of years of practice! [Photo Credit: UBC Botanical Garden]

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