Szechwan Lovage Rhizome (Rhizoma Chuanxiong)
What is Szechwan Lovage Rhizome (Rhizoma Chuanxiong)?
Szechwan Lovage Rhizome (chuan xiong, 川芎), also known as Rhizoma Chuanxiong, is the rhizome of Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort, a plant within the apiacea family (carrot family). This perennial plant is one of the most popular herbs in China and Korea, where it grows in the wild and has been cultivated for centuries.
In China, Rhizoma Chuanxiong mainly grows in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces. However, most Rhizoma Chuanxiong today are harvested through cultivation instead of harvesting from the Wild. Rhizoma Chuanxiong is usually collected in May, where it is cleansed and dried under the Sun before it has its fibrous roots removed.
Rhizoma Chuanxiong is famous for being a key ingredient of Si Wu Tang (Four Substance Decoction), a thousand-year-old herbal formula that is known to be the number one gynecological formula for nourishing blood that is still prevalent today.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Rhizoma Chuanxiong falls under the category of ‘Herbs that invigorate the blood’. This herb can stimulate the blood flow, promote the circulation of blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities, and to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation.
Warm in nature, Rhizoma Chuanxiong can help individuals who are experiencing too much Cold in their body, such as those who have a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance. Pungent in taste, this herb can promote the circulation of qi and body fluid around the body too. In particular, Rhizoma Chuanxiong is thought to target the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.
Functions and Benefits of Szechwan Lovage Rhizome (Rhizoma Chuanxiong)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows Rhizoma Chuanxiong has the following functions.
Firstly, Rhizoma Chuanxiong can promote the movement of qi to resolve various pain syndromes caused by Blood Stasis and Qi Stagnation. Through the actions of dispersing and smoothing, Rhizoma Chuanxiong can unblock blood vessels, regulate menstruation and relieve pain. Hence, this herb is commonly used for various gynecological diseases such as irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, period cramps and postpartum abdominal pain. Other than gynecological diseases, Rhizoma Chuanxiong can also soothe Liver Stagnation and relieve symptoms such as chest pain, hypochondria, Stasis of heart vessels and swelling pain due to Stasis.
Secondly, Rhizoma Chuanxiong can help to expel Wind and relieve pain in the head and eyes. Known to be one of the key herbs when it comes to treating headache, Rhizoma Chuanxiong can be used singly or macerated in wine to treat headache that has been caused by Wind-Cold, Wind-Heat, Wind-Damp, Blood Deficiency or Blood Stasis. For example, this herb can help to relieve migraine. This herb can also help to treat Wind-Cold-Damp arthralgia and pain of joints since it can expel Wind and relieve pain.
Modern studies have also discovered that Rhizoma Chuanxiong can help to treat conditions such as upper respiratory infection, migraine headaches, and acute or chronic sinusitis, also known as sinus infection, which can cause minor to severe head and neck pain.
In particular, studies over the past few decades have demonstrated that Rhizoma Chuanxiong seems to be useful when it comes to treating problems relating to the head and neck, be it mild, moderate or severe. One 2010 study found that Rhizoma Chuanxiong can reduce inflammation associated with cerebrovascular diseases.
Also, Rhizoma Chuanxiong may be able to help treat skin conditions. It may be able to promote skin repair.
How to Use Szechwan Lovage Rhizome (Rhizoma Chuanxiong)
The recommended dosage of Rhizoma Chuanxiong for a day is 3-6g, taken as part of a decoction. Some practitioners may recommend a higher maximum dosage of 10g per day, but a lower dosage of 1-1.5g when it is administered as a powder. Hence, it is best to check with your healthcare provider on the suitable dosage for your condition before adding the herb to your diet.
Rhizoma Chuanxiong is usually available in forms such as powder, pill, herbal tea and other supplements. It is also a very common ingredient in many herbal prescriptions, such as the aforementioned Si Wu Tang, Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San, Chuan Xiong Wan and Jiao Ai Tang.
In addition to its medicinal uses, Rhizoma Chuanxiong can also be combined with certain foods and beverages to give flavour, or to add fragrance to certain soaps and cosmetics.
Cautions and Side Effects of Szechwan Lovage Rhizome (Rhizoma Chuanxiong)
Individuals who are experiencing Yin Deficiency with effulgent fire, excess or rising Liver yang, or are currently pregnant should avoid consuming this herb for the time being. It is not recommended for individuals with internal body heat symptoms such as night sweating, hot flushes, or constant thirst and those who suffer excessive perspiration or bleeding.
Also, patients who have menorrhagia or are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs should steer clear from this herb too.
Some common side effects of consuming this herb include stomach discomfort, abdominal pain, dry mouth, drowsiness and dizziness.
Here is a summary for Szechwan Lovage Rhizome:
- Herb name (Chinese): 川芎
- Herb name (Pin Yin): chuān xiōng
- Herb name (English): Szechwan Lovage Rhizome
- Herb name (Botanical): Rhizoma Chuanxiong
- Origin of species: Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort.
- Part(s) of herb used: Rhizome
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent; Warm; Administrates the Liver, Gallbladder and Pericardium meridians
- Actions: Ideal for improving blood circulation in the body to ease pain (e.g. headaches and rheumatic pain); Used to ease gynaecological ailments to invigorate blood circulation and regulate menstrual flow
Chen, Z., Zhang, C., Gao, F., Fu, Q., Fu, C., He, Y., & Zhang, J. (2018). A systematic review on the rhizome of Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort.(Chuanxiong). Food and chemical toxicology, 119, 309-325. [Accessed on 29th September 2022]
Guo, M., Liu, Y., & Shi, D. (2016). Cardiovascular actions and therapeutic potential of tetramethylpyrazine (active component isolated from Rhizoma Chuanxiong): roles and mechanisms. BioMed Research International, 2016. [Accessed on 29th September 2022]
Huang, Y., Ni, N., Hong, Y., Lin, X., Feng, Y., & Shen, L. (2020). Progress in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of migraine. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 48(08), 1731-1748.[Accessed on 29th September 2022]
Share this article on