Allium macrostemon (Xie Bai)
What is Allium macrostemon (Xie Bai)?
Allium macrostemon (xie bai, 薤白) also known as long stamen onion bulb, is a species of flowering plant in the Alliaceae family. This plant is primarily found in China and other parts of East Asia. Xie Bai is a bulbous perennial herb that has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Allium macrostemon is a herbaceous plant that typically grows to a height of about 30 to 80 cm. It has long, slender and hollow leaves that resemble grass blades. It also produces clusters of small, star-shaped white or pale pink flowers on a tall stem.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Xie Bai falls under the category of ‘Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior’. Such herbs can treat early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, eyes, ears, nose, throat and skin. It is believed that these herbs can induce sweating by increasing the flow of sweat to our capillary pores, which then expel the external diseases from the body and prevent it from invading further.
Warm in nature, Xie Bai 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, Xie Bai can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, the herb can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, Xie Bai targets the Lungs, large intestines and the stomach.
Functions and Benefits of Allium macrostemon (Xie Bai)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Xie Bai has the following health benefits.
Xie Bai can activate yang and disperse congealing Cold, which makes it a key herb in the treatment of chest impediment. For chest pain and fullness due to Cold-Phlegm accumulation and chest yang deficiency, Xie Bai can be combined with other herbs such as Trichosanthes Fruit (Gua Lou), Pinellia Rhizome (Ban Xia), Fructus Aurantii Immaturus (Zhi Shi) and Ramulus Cinnamomi (Gui Zhi) to relieve its symptoms.
For chest impediment due to phlegm accumulation and Blood Stasis, Xie Bai can be combined with other qi-moving, chest-soothing, blood-activating and stasis-resolving herbs to enhance its effectiveness. Other symptoms that Xie Bai can treat include dyspnea, cough, wheezing, stifling sensation in the chest and upper back pain.
As Xie Bai can regulate gastrointestinal qi, relieve distension and alleviate pain, the herb is also used to treat gastroabdominal stuffiness, distension and pain caused by stomach Cold and Qi Stagnation, diarrhoea and dysentery with tenesmus due to Damp-Heat accumulation, Qi Stagnation in stomach and intestines.
How to Use Allium macrostemon (Xie Bai)
The recommended daily dosage of Xie Bai is 5 – 10g, when consumed as a decoction.
The herb is also available in supplement forms such as pills and powder.
Xie Bai and its supplements may be found in herbal stores, Asian markets and selected specialty stores.
Cautions and Side Effects of Allium macrostemon (Xie Bai)
Xie Bai should not be used by individuals experiencing Qi Deficiency without Stagnation, a weak stomach or an intolerance of garlic or onion. Individuals experiencing Yin Deficiency or fevers should use this herb with caution too. If you are experiencing peptic ulcers, do not consume Xie Bai for long periods of time.
Do note that Xie Bai should not be used concurrently with anticoagulants like heparin, warfarin, enoxaparin or antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin, dipyridamole and clopidogrel.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Xie Bai to your healthcare routine!
Here is a summary forAllium macrostemon (Xie Bai):
- Herb name (Chinese): 薤白
- Herb name (Pin Yin): xiè bái
- Herb name (English): Longstamen Onion Bulb
- Herb name (Botanical): Bulbus Allii Macrostemonis
- Origin of species: Allium macrostemon Bge; Allium chinensis G. Don
- Part(s) of herb used: Bulb
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Jiangsu, Zhejiang
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Warm; Administrates the Heart, Lung, Stomach and Large Intestine Meridians
- Actions: Helps to ease tightness in chest region; Relieves abdominal discomforts and cramping rectal pain
Chen, H., Wang, G., Wang, N., Yang, M., Wang, Z., Wang, X., & Yao, X. (2007). New furostanol saponins from the bulbs of Allium macrostemon Bunge and their cytotoxic activity. Die Pharmazie-An International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 62(7), 544-548. [Accessed on 10th May 2023]
Peng, J. P., Wu, Y., Yao, X. S., Okuyama, T., & Narui, T. (1992). Two new steroidal saponins from Allium macrostemon. Yao xue xue bao= Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica, 27(12), 918-922. [Accessed on 10th May 2023]
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