Name : Aucklandia (Saussurea) Rootmu-xiang_opt

Chinese Name : 木香

Latin Name : Radix Aucklandiae


This herb, also named saussurea, is the dried root of Aucklandia lappa Decne. of the family Compositae. It is grown mainly in the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces of China, and in many areas of Burma and India. It is harvested in autumn and early winter, the rootlets are removed and washed and dried in the sun. the herb is then used unprocessed or roasted in hot ash.

Traditionally, the herb was used to make incense or to protect clothes from moths and other insects. It turns grey hair black. Carminative, stimulative, antiseptic, prophylactic, astringent, sedative, and insecticidal properties are attributed  to aucklandia. Today, aucklandia root is used as a carminative, Qi-regulating stomachic, anodyne for stomach and chest distension with pain, it is used to treat anorexia and indigestion.

Use of Aucklandia (Saussurea) Root in TCM

Pungent  and bitter in taste, and warm, it acts on the spleen, stomach, large intestine, and gallbladder meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Regulates the flow of Qi, normalizes the functions of the spleen and stomach, and relieves abdominal pain:
  • For abdominal distension with pain, anorexia, borborygmus, diarrhea, and dysentery, aucklandia root is blended with bitter orange, corydalis, and Sichuan chinaberry (chuan lian zi). Aucklandia root is also used with areca seed, bitter orange, rhubarb, phellodendron bark, coptis, zedoaria, cyperus, areca seed, and rhubarb, as in Mu Xiang Bing Lang Wan (R-62), for abdominal retention due to undigested food, constipation, and dysentery.
  • For distending pain in the hypochondriac region, a bitter taste in the mouth, and a yellow coating of the tongue, aucklandia root is mixed with bupleurum root, curcuma root, and bitter orange to correct stagnation of Damp-Heat.
  • For stagnation of Stomach-Qi and Spleen-Qi, indigestion, abdominal distension with pain, chronic gastritis, chronic enteritis, and chronic hepatitis, aucklandia root is combined with orange peel, bitter orange, poria, germinated barley, hawthorn, cyperus, and other herbs, as in Mu Xiang Shun Qi Wan.
  1. Regulates the functions of Middle-Jiao: for epigastric or abdominal distention, nausea and vomiting, anorexia, and chronic diarrhea, aucklandia root is blended with codonopsis, white atractylodes, poria, licorice root, tangerine peel (processed), and amomum fruit, as in Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang.


In a decoction of 3 to 10 g


People with anemia, dehydration, or who are yin deficient should use aucklandia root with caution.

Side Effects and Toxicity

No undesirable side effects or toxicity were reported at the therapeutic dose in classical Chinese materia medica.

Chemical Constituents

Aucklandia root contains essential oils. The main components are aplotaxene, betulin, costus lactone, alpha-ionone, alpha-and beta-costene, beta selinene, saussurealactone, costunolide, costic acid, costol, dehydrocostus lactone, isoalantolactone, phellandrene, and dihydrocostuslactone. Other ingredients in the root are camphene, stigmasterol, betulin, beta-elemen, and saussurine.

Pharmacological Findings

  1. Gastrointestinal action: aucklandia root stimulates peristalsis and large intestinal muscles, and relieves stagnation and gas accumulation.
  2. Aucklandia was shown to be excitatory on the heart and to lower blood pressure in anesthetized dogs.
  3. Antimicrobial: the volatile oil is antimicrobial against typhoid bacillus, dysenteriae, E.coli, and fungi, in vitro.
  4. Aucklandia promotes bronchial dilation, making it is useful to treat asthma.