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Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi)

Close up of Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi)

What is Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi)?

Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (wu jia pi, 五加皮), also known as Cortex Acanthopanacis,  Eleutherococcus gracilistylus or Slenderstyle Acanthopanax Bark, refers to the root bark of Acanthopanax gracilistylus (Eleutherococcus nodiflorus), which is a shrubby plant belonging to the Araliaceae family.

First appearing in The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, 神农本草经) in around 100 BCE, Acanthopanax Gracilistylus Bark often grows on forest edges, roadsides and thickets. In summer and autumn, people gather the roots of Acanthopanax Gracilistylus, wash them with water, peel the root barks, dry them in the sun and cut them into thick slices for medicinal usage. There are about 50 different kinds of herbal prescriptions containing this herb.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acanthopanax Gracilistylus Bark falls under the category of ‘Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness’. Such herbs can treat bi (痹) pain, which corresponds to arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles.

Warm in nature, Acanthopanax Gracilistylus Bark can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. Bitter and pungent in taste, Acanthopanax Gracilistylus Bark can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, Acanthopanax Gracilistylus Bark can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids.

Functions and Benefits of Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi) has the following health benefits.

Acanthopanax Gracilistylus can dispel Wind, remove Dampness and expel Cold. Thus, Acanthopanax Gracilistylus is often used to treat arthralgia syndromes caused by Wind, Dampness and Cold, as well as pain in joints and difficulty in flexing and extending them. As Acanthopanax Gracilistylus can tonify one’s Liver and Kidneys while strengthening one’s tendons and bones, it is a great tonic anti-rheumatics and is suitable for old and weak patients with chronic diseases.

Through tonifying both the Liver and Kidneys. And strengthening tendons and bones, Acanthopanax Gracilistylus is indicated for deficiency of Liver and Kidneys, paralysis and weakness of tendons and bones, weakness of feet and waist pain. 

In addition, Acanthopanax Gracilistylus can warm one’s Kidneys and induce diuresis to further alleviate oedema. For oedema and difficulty in micturition, Acanthopanax Gracilistylus is often combined with diuresis-inducing and oedema-alleviating herbs to enhance its effectiveness.

Close up of Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi)
Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi) is effective in relieving water retention in the body.

How to Use Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi)

The recommended daily dosage of Acanthopanax Gracilistylus is 5 – 10g, when used as a decoction. Acanthopanax Gracilistylus can also be soaked in wine to make Wu Jia Pi wine, or made into pills or powder for consumption.

Acanthopanax Gracilistylus and its supplements can be found in many herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi)

Acanthopanax Gracilistylus should not be used by individuals experiencing Yin Deficiency with Heat signs. Also, as this herb may have a sedative effect, do use it with caution if you are working with heavy machinery.

Long-term and excessive consumption of Acanthopanax Gracilistylus may cause adverse reactions such as dizziness, headache, numbness of limbs, facial paralysis, chills in the lower extremities, throat discomfort, slurred speech and dry stools.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Acanthopanax Gracilistylus to your healthcare routine!

Summary

Here is a summary for Acanthopanax Gracilistylus (Wu Jia Pi):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 五加皮
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): wǔ jiā pí
  • Herb name (English): Slenderstyle Acanthopanax Bark
  • Herb name (Botanical): Cortex Acanthopanacis
  • Origin of species: Acanthopanax gracilistylus W. W. Smith
  • Part(s) of herb used: Root bark
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Hubei, Henan, Anhui
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Warm; Administrates the Liver and Kidney Meridians
  • Actions: Eases rheumatic and arthritic pain; Nourishes bodily systems of weak individuals; Relieves water retention in the lower body

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