Bupleurum chinense

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Bupleurum chinense
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae)
Genus: Bupleurum
Species: B. chinense
Binomial name
Bupleurum chinense

Bupleurum chinense (Chinese: 柴胡; pinyin: chaí hú; Jyutping: caai4 wu4) is a plant of the Apiaceae family.

Ethnomedical uses[edit]

Bupleurum (Thorowax) is a medicinal root found natively in East Asia. The Chinese name is Chai Hu (柴胡). The leaves of the plant are long and thin and resemble fennel.

  • Traditionally used to relieve infections with fever, hemorrhoids and indigestion.
  • Also used to treat liver stagnation (Qi), irritability, and liver disease.

Bupleurum is a primary ingredient an ancient Chinese medicinal formula known as Xiao Chai Hu Tang, first recorded in the Treatise on Cold Induced Febrile Disease (Shang Han Lun) circa 280 AD. The ingredients are:

Another example of how Bupleurum is used in Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine is in a formula called Xiao Yao San, which was first seen in the Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Feng (Imperial Grace Formulary of the Tai Ping Era) 1078–85. In this formula traditional practitioners use this combination of herbs with emphasis on Bupleurum to soothe irritability.

It is possible that Bupleurum, or Xiao Chai Hu Tang may reduce the symptoms of various types of hepatitis and HIV[citation needed] though it may also increase the risk of liver damage.[1]

This formula should not be taken without a prescription from a licensed practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and should not be taken for prolonged periods of time and could cause headache, dizziness and bleeding of the gums. Chai Hu might slightly reduce white blood count.


  1. ^ Lee C-H, Wang J-D, Chen P-C, 2011 "Risk of Liver Injury Associated with Chinese Herbal Products Containing Radix bupleuri in 639, 779 Patients with Hepatitis B Virus Infection". PLoS ONE 6(1): e16064. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016064