Home / Chinese Herb / WHITE ATRACTYLODES [白朮, BAI ZHU]


6ec3b9_20cc0bbd847d4ab9bef80256db8f03d0_optName : White Atractylodes

Chinese Name : 白朮

Latin Name : Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephala


This herb is the rhizome of Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz. of the family Compositae. It is grown mainly in the Zhejiang province of China but it also cultivated in the provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Fujian, Anhui, and Jiangxi. The rhizome is collected in the winter, sliced, dried in the sun, and used unprocessed or stir baked with wheat bran, which gives it a brown color.

Traditionally, white atractylodes is an excellent tonic and diuretic, fetus-calming (tranquilizing), and a stomach remedy, and is used mainly to invigorate the functions of the stomach and spleen. It is included in several valuable traditional recipes for elixir of longevity and elixir of felicity.

Atractylodes has two medicinal varietis. The unprocessed (dried) variety is used mainly for eliminating Dampness and inducing diuresis for the treatment of edema and arthritis. The stir-baked or processed variety is used for invigorating the Spleen-Qi and strengthening stomach activity for treating digestive disorders, diarrhea, and sweating. White atractylodes is a powerful antiaging medicinal herb.

Use of White Atractylodes in TCM

Bitter and sweet in taste, and warm, atractylodes acts on the spleen and stomach meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Replenishes Spleen-Qi and Stomach-Qi, and reinforces the functions of the spleen and stomach:
  • For epigastric and abdominal distension, poor appetite, loose stools, lassitude, and asthenia, white atractylodes is prescribed with ginseng root, poria, and licorice root, as in Si jun Zi Tang (R-2). It is also used with ginseng, astragalus, Chinese angelica, and other herbs, as in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (R-9), for poor digestion.
  • For abdominal pain and severe diarrhea due to extreme cold in the gastrointestinal tract, white atractylodes is combined with dried ginger and codonopsis root, as in Li Zhong Tang (R-14).
  1. Invigorats the spleen, eliminates interior Dampness, and induces diuresis:
  • For the sensation of fullness, and oppression in the chest and upper abdomen, white atractylodes is used with cinnamon twig, poria, and licorice root in a decoction known as Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang (R-74).
  • To treat edema, white atractylodes is mixed with poria, alisma rhizome, cinnamon twig, polyporus, and dried ginger, as in Wu Ling San (R-68).
  1. Prevents miscarriage, threatened miscarriage, and continuous movemet of the fetus (continuous movement of the fetus means it is not stable or quiet in the womb; continuous movement may easily lead to miscarriage).
  • To prevent and treat threatened miscarriage, morning sickness, and associated symptoms after pregnancy, white atractylodes is prescribed with scutellaria root, orange peel, poria, and bambusa (zhu gu).
  • For soreness and pain in the back, or abdominal pain after pregnancy, this herb can be combined with eucommia bark, donkey hide gelatin, and dipsacus.


In a decoction of 5 to 15 g.


This herb should not be used by those who are in deficient or deficient in body fluids.

Side Effects and Toxicity

At the normal suggested dose levels, the herb is safe. Toxicological studies showed that rats, with oral administration of the decoction of the herb at 0.5 g/kg daily for two months, had no observable toxic reactions. The LD50 of its decoction in mice was 13.3 g/kg by intraperitoneal administration.

Chemical constituents

White atractylodes contains essential oil (0.25 to 1.42 percent) with atractylol and atractylone as its major components. Other components are lactones of atractylenolide-I, II, III and 8-beta-ethoxy-asterolide, scopoletin, acetylene, hutenolides, and vitamin A. It also contains atractylodes polysaccharides.

Pharmacological findings

  1. As a tonic, it enhances immunity and improves resistance againts diseases in mice. White atractylodes increases body weight and muscle strength. An oral administration of white atractylodes showed an increases in body weight and endurance in a swimming test using mice.
  2. Diuretic: white atactylodes significantly increases the excretion of urine and sodium ion electrolytes.
  3. Hypoglycemic properties: in animal tests, both rabbits and rats showed lowered blood serum glucose levels.
  4. Anticoagulative:elevates prothrombin time in rats, and protects the liver.
  5. Endocrine action: in many animal experiments, while atractylodes increased the assimilation of glucose and lowered plasma sugar levels.
  6. Hematologic properties: white atractylodes increases red blood cell count and hemoglobin, and at the same time increases the number of white blood cells, and potentiates therapeutic activity during chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  7. Stomachic: white atractylodes increases the secretion of gastric juice and increases digestion.
  8. White atractylode volatile oil has a sedative effect in rabbits and is anticancerous in mice. It inhibits the growth of intestinal and liver cancer.
  9. An anti-inflammatory, its polysaccharides were shown to be immunopotentiating.
  10. Protects the liver.