Chinese Lovage Root (Gao Ben)
What is Chinese Lovage Root (Gao Ben)?
Chinese Lovage Root (gao ben, 藁本), also known as Rhizoma Ligustici, refers to the dried rhizome and roots of Ligusticum Sinensis Oliv. or Ligusticum jeholense Nakai et Kitag., which belong to the Umbelliferae family. As the section between the root and the seedlings resembles straws, it is also called Straw Weed. In China, these plants are mainly produced in provinces such as Shanxi, Gansu, Henan, Sichuan, Hubei and Henan.
Used in about 30 different Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formulas, it is best known for treating headaches at the vertex or parietal area at the top of the head. This herb first appeared in The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, 神农本草经) in the late Western Han Dynasty.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chinese Lovage Root falls under the category of ‘Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior’. Such herbs aim to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, eyes, ears, nose, throat, or skin. By inducing sweating to increase the flow of sweat to our capillary pores, these herbs can expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.
Warm in nature, Chinese Lovage Root 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. Pungent in taste, Chinese Lovage Root targets the bladder and the Lungs.
Functions and Benefits of Chinese Lovage Root (Gao Ben)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Chinese Lovage Root has the following health benefits.
Chinese Lovage Root can expel Wind and Cold, which makes it effective in treating Wind-Cold syndromes, such as headache, arthralgia, toothache and nasal conditions. It is especially useful in treating vertex headache and headache that travels from the vertex to the cheeks and teeth.
As Chinese Lovage Root can expel Wind, it can also stop pain, and is thus indicated for symptoms such as joint pain, arthritic pain, and abdominal pain due to Wind and Cold. Chinese Lovage Root can also treat acute lower back pain caused by exterior Wind-Cold invasion.
Modern studies suggest that Chinese Lovage Root contains sedative, analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects. Its alcohol extract also possesses antihypertensive effects and antibacterial effects.
How to Use Chinese Lovage Root (Gao Ben)
The recommended daily dosage of Chinese Lovage Root is 3 – 10g, when used as a decoction.
Chinese Lovage Root and its supplements, such as pills and extracts, can be found in many herbal stores and Asian specialty stores.
Cautions and Side Effects of Chinese Lovage Root (Gao Ben)
Chinese Lovage Root should not be used by individuals experiencing Yin Deficiency with Heat signs, Blood Deficiency, Heat disorders, rising Liver yang, aching in the bones and postpartum Blood Deficiency with flaring fire. It is strictly not recommended for individuals who display anaemic symptoms, hypertensive symptoms or headaches accompanied by feverish conditions.
Do note that you should not use Chinese Lovage Root for headaches caused by a jue yin disorder or Blood Deficiency. Chinese Lovage Root should not be used together with Celosia Seeds (Qing Xiang Zi) too.
Here is a summary for Chinese Lovage Root (Gao Ben):
- Herb name (Chinese): 藁本
- Herb name (Pin Yin): gǎo běn
- Herb name (English): Chinese Lovage
- Herb name (Botanical): Rhizoma et Radix Ligustici
- Origin of species: Lingusticum sinense Oliv.; Lingusticum jeholense Nakai et Kitag.
- Part(s) of herb used: Root and rhizome
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Shaanxi, Gansu, Henan, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Liaoning, Jilin, Hebei
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent; Warm; Administrates the Bladder Meridian
- Actions: Eases symptoms of common colds and headaches experienced at the top of the head; Relieves rheumatic pain
Peng, C., Xie, X., Wang, L., Guo, L., & Hu, T. (2009). Pharmacodynamic action and mechanism of volatile oil from Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong Hort. on treating headache. Phytomedicine, 16(1), 25-34. [Accessed on 14th June 2023]
Zhu, Y. Z., Huang, S. H., Tan, B. K. H., Sun, J., Whiteman, M., & Zhu, Y. C. (2004). Antioxidants in Chinese herbal medicines: a biochemical perspective. Natural product reports, 21(4), 478-489. [Accessed on 14th June 2023]
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