Li Lu – Veratrum Root and Rhizome – Radix et Rhizoma Veratri

Li Lu

English Name: veratrum root and rhizome

Pharmaceutical Name: Radix et Rhizoma Veratri

Medica Category: Emetic Herbs

Properties: Li Lu enters the Lung, Liver, and Stomach channels; it is acrid and bitter in nature and cold in temperature. Its purpose is to induce vomiting and thus according to TCM is considered toxic.

What is Li Lu?:

The Chinese Herb Li Lu is the dried root and rhizome of a plant commonly known as black false hellebore (Veratrum nigrum L.). Its range extends from Central Europe all the way across Asia into Korea. It blooms in the late summer with purplish-black flowers and was cultivated as an ornamental in European gardens in the 19th century. All parts of this plant are poisonous, with the highest concentration of toxins being found in the rhizomes and roots. It is these roots which are harvested in the fall and used in TCM.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Li Lu:

Li Lu induces vomiting and is used internally for this purpose to eliminate phlegm, poisons, and toxic substances from the stomach. It also is used to treat wind-stroke, epilepsy, seizures, and painful obstruction of the throat.

Li Lu is used topically (powdered and mixed with oil) to treat scabies, ringworm, lice, and fungus.

–safety/clinical notes:

In general, emetic herbs are extremely toxic, irritating, and potent and must be used only when necessary, according to appropriate guidelines, and with extreme caution. We recommend using them only under the supervision of a trained TCM professional.

Li Lu is a potent emetic and recommended dosage in the texts is 0.3 – 0.9 grams in powder or pill form. But it is important to note that vomiting can be a desired effect of treatment (e.g. if poison is ingested) but can also be considered an adverse reaction if it is continuous or prolonged (5 ml. of fresh juice of Sheng Jiang (fresh ginger) should alleviate this adverse effect). All of this being said, the proper dose for internal use can be quite difficult to calibrate and is best left to trained professionals in controlled settings.

Li Lu is contraindicated for use for persons with deficiency or blood loss.

Contraindicated during pregnancy.

Li Lu antagonizes Xi Xin (asarum/Chinese wild ginger), Bai Shao (white peony root), Ren Shen (ginseng root), Dang Shen (codonopsis root), Sha Shen (glehnia/adenophora root), and Ku Shen Gen (sopohora root).