Chinese Name : 怀牛膝
Latin Name : Radix achyranthes bidentatae
This herb is the dried root of Achyranthes bidentata BI. of the family Amaranthaceae, known as huai niu xi. Cyathula officinalis Kuan and C.capitata (Wall) Miq. of the family Amaranthaceae are known as chuan niu xi. These herbs share similar actions and uses. Achyranthes root is produced mainly in the city of Huaiqing in the Henan province in China, and cyathula root is produced in the Sichuan province. The roots are collected in autumn or early winter, washed after the removal of the hairy rootlets, dried in the sun or smoked with sulfur fumes, then sliced or stir baked with rice wine.
Traditionally, these herbs were used for ague, fever, urinary difficulties, and puerperal and cutaneous diseases. Today, achyranthes root (huai niu xi) is used to strengthen the tendons, bones, and joints, to relieve pain in the lower extremities, and to invigorate the circulation of Qi and blood in the kidneys and liver. Cyathula root (chuan niu xi) is mostly used for promoting blood circulation to relieve stagnation, regulate menstruation, and relieve rheumatic muscular pains and aching joints. Achyranthes root is considered to be a good antiaging medicinal herb.
Use of Achyranthes Root in TCM
Bitter and sour in taste, and neutral, these herbs act on the liver and kidney meridians.
Effect, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations
- Invigorates blood circulation, eliminates blood stasis, and relieves pain: to treat irregular menstruation, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, retention of the placenta caused by stagnation of blood, and to alleviate postpartum abdominal pain and pain resulting from traumatic injuries, achyranthes root is combined with carthamus, peach kernel, Chinese angelica root and cnidium rhizome in a decoction.
- Eliminates Bi syndrome and reinforces the kidneys and liver: for aches and pains in the loins and knees, as well as pain in the lower extremities and lassitude of the legs caused by Wind-Damp Bi syndrome, achyranthes root is prescribed with pubescent angelica root, loranthus, large leaf gentian root, siler, eucommia bark, cnidium, ginseng root, Chinese angelica, and poria, as in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang (R-58)
- Induces the downward movement of blood: to relieve hyperactivity of liver-yang-induced headaches, vertigo, dizziness, and toothache, achyranthes is dispensed with white peony, haematite, oyster shell, scrophularia, capillaris, and asparagus, as in Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang.
In a decoction of 6 to 15 g
This herb should not be used by pregnant women and should be avoided by any women who has profuse menstruation
Side Effects and Toxicity
The therapeutic dose does not cause side effects and is not toxic according to Chinese materia medica. Toxicological studies show that the LD50 values of the alkaloids of the herb, ecdysterone and inokosterone, administered intraperitoneally in mice were 6.4 g/kg and 7.8 g/kg, respectively. The oral dose value of these alkaloids was > 9 g/kg.
Achyranthes bidentata BI. root contains triterpenoid saponins, inokosterone, ecdysterone, stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, beta-amyrin, polysaccharides, and oleanolic acid. Cyathula officinalis Kuan root contains rubrosterone, capitasterone, and cyasterone. Cyanthula capitata contains capitasterone, cyasterone, amarasterone A and B, ecdysterone, isoecdysterone, sengosterone, and inokosterone.
- Achyranthes alcohol extract has been demonstrated to be anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and mildly diuretic.
- Effect on the uterus: achyranthes root causes contractions in rabbits and mice. It causes relaxation in the nonpregnant uteri of cats and contractions in pregnant cats
- Action on the cardiovascular system: an injection of either the decoction or alcohol extract of achyranthes root into isolated hearts of frogs, dogs, cats, and rabbits showed a reduction in blood pressure due to peripheral vasodilation. Other studies showed a dual action of temporary hypertensiveness followed by transient hypotensiveness.
- Action on gastrointestinal tract: achyranthes root extract was inhibitory on the motility of intestinal specimens and relieved smooth muscle cramps in mice but increased contractions in guinea pig intestines.
In treating Bi syndromes, Chinese materia medica recorded that achyranthes root, combined with eucommia, dipsacus, cibotium, chaemomeles, acanthopananx, and loranthus in a decoction produced good result in the treatment of fibromyositis, fibrositis, sciatica, rheumatic arthritis, and swelling and pain in the lumbar region, knees, and ankles. Achyranthes blended with phellodendron bark, clematis, chaemomeles, acanthopanax, and tokoro relieved rheumatoid arthritis in the lower limbs.