Chai Hu – Bupleurum – Radix Bupleuri

Chai Hu

English Name: bupleurum root

Literal Translation: “kindling of the barbarians”

Pharmaceutical Name: Radix Bupleuri

Medica Category: Wind-Heat Releasing Herbs

Properties: Chai Hu enters the Liver and Gallbladder channels; it is bitter and acrid in nature and cool in temperature.

What is Chai Hu?:

The Chinese Herb (Bei) Chai Hu is the dried root of the Chinese thorowax plant (Bupleurum chinensis DC.).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Chai Hu:

Chai Hu helps harmonize the exterior and interior layers and as such is useful in resolving shaoyang conditions (conditions in which a pathenogenic influence is trapped between the two layers); this can look like a pathenogenic influence sinking down into the body (i.e. a wind-heat attack moving in and threatening to take root deep in the internal organs) or in cases of recurring bouts of fever (or other symptoms), the cause of which is “mysterious”. In these cases it can be that the pathenogenic influence is trapped between the layers and this is what is leading to periodic flare-ups of symptoms with not-obvious causes/triggers (cf: Xiao Chai Hu Tang).

Chai Hu “spreads the Liver” and relieves Liver Qi Stagnation and is a main ingredient in Xiao Yao Wan. This quality also makes it useful in treating digestive disorders that involve Liver Qi stagnating to the point of attacking the Spleen/Stomach.

Chai Hu has ascending and dispersing qualities to it and as such can be useful in bringing the healing effects of other herbs to the head and/or out to the extremities (as in various disorders in which Liver fire is rising up to cause migraines or eye pain with redness and swelling).