Atractylodes 101

Atractylodes Benefits And Side Effects


What are Atractylodes? Atractylodes are a type of plant. The root is used to make medicine. Atractylodes, also known as Bai Zhu, is a flowering plant native to Asia that has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is also known as “The First Herb of Invigorating Qi and Strengthening Spleen,” and is divided into Atractylodes macrocephala rhizome, Atractylodes lancea, Atractylodes Chinensis, and others.

What is Atractylodes macrocephala rhizome?

Atractylodes macrocephala rhizome

Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz., bái Zhu is an Atractylodes species found in central China. The roots are used to make Chinese herbal medicine.

What is Atractylodes Lancea?

Atractylodes Lancea

 Atractylodes lancea Thunb. is an Atractylodes species found in central China and It is one of the sources of CNG zh, a type of Chinese herbal medicine.

What is Pinelliae Rhizoma?

Pinelliae Rhizoma

 Raw Pinelliae Rhizoma (RPR) is a toxic herb that is commonly used to eliminate phlegm or treat cough and vomiting. Because of its irritant toxicity, its processed products, such as Pinelliae Rhizoma Praeparatum (PRP) and Pinelliae Rhizoma Praeparatum cum Zingibere et Alumine (PRPZA), are more commonly used and administered alongside other chemical drugs, such as cough medications.

What is Rhizoma Chuanxiong?

Rhizoma Chuanxiong

Chuanxiong Rhizoma (CR), also known as Chuan xiong in Chinese, is the dehydrated rhizome of Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort., which corresponds to the Umbelliferae family. Its optimal harvest time is between April and May, which has been identified as the best possible time for the accumulation of active principles such as volatile oils, ferulic acid, and alkaloids. Wide and cultivated CR resources are widely distributed in Pengzhou, Xindu, Chongzhou, and Dujiangyan in China’s Sichuan province.

What is Rhizoma Dioscoreae?

Rhizoma Dioscoreae

Rhizoma Dioscoreae Nipponicae (RDN) is a popular traditional Chinese herb for treating arthroncus, arthrodynia, and arthritis. Inflammatory mechanisms, as we know, play an important role in the occurrence, course, and prognosis of gouty arthritis (GA).     

What is Atractylodes Chinensis?  

Atractylodes Chinensis

Atractylodes Chinensis is the dried root of the Chinese plant Cang zhu. It is described as spicy, pungent, bitter, warm, and aromatic in traditional Chinese medicine.

 The root is the medicinal part, which is collected in the winter, dirt eliminated while being dried over ablaze or in the solar radiation, and fibril removed. It measures 3 to 13cm long and 1.5 to 7cm in diameter when clenched like a fist. The surface is greyish

yellow or greyish brown in color, with tubercules and intermittent lengthwise wrinkles and fibril scars on top, as well as remnant stem base and bud scars. The texture is tough and difficult to break down. The cross-section of the traverse is uneven, yellowish-white to light brown, and speckled with brownish-yellow oil spots. It has a delicate scent and a sweet but pungent flavor. Though interesting fact: it is sticky when chewed.

Atractylodes are grown extensively in provinces such as:

  • Jiangxi
  • Zhejiang
  • Hubei
  • Anhui

Understanding Atractylodes


With the therapeutic herb’s growing popularity, it is now being fostered on a larger scale. The delightful and bitter-tasting plant contains a variety of compounds that help the immune system, including vital nutrients and amino acids.

Because of its consistent performance, Bai Zhu also known as Atractylodes Macrocephala has earned the title “The First Herb of Invigorating Qi and Strengthening Spleen.” This Chinese herb is primarily produced in Shao Xing and is one of eight well-known medicative specialties in Zhejiang province.

As well, Because of its distinct effect, it is regarded as equitable to Ren Shen in Chinese Medicine (TCM) (Ginseng). “Ren Shen in the north and Bai Zhu in the south,” an old proverb says. The famous classic formula of Si Jun Zi Tang, Four Gentleman Decoction, will have provided a brief overview of their significance.

It is the fundamental formula for spleen and stomach Qi deficiency, and it serves as the inspiration for numerous subsequent formulas aimed at spleen tonification.

Atractylodes has a variety of health benefits because it is a key ingredient in many Chinese herbal medicinal formulas. It cleanses the body of various diseases and ensures that the organ systems function properly.

Atractylodes have been known to help with the following:

  • Obesity
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach aches
  • Bloating
  • And many others

 Atractyodes Slices

 Slices of Atractylodes are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM. These sliced organic herbs, known scientifically as Atractylodis macrocephalae, resemble some kind of wild mushroom but are actually a form of whole natural herbs derived from the roots of a plant that grows in the mountain valleys of northern China, Manchuria, Korea, and Japan.

TCM practitioners associate Atractylodis macrocephalae with qi, or “life-force,” the immune system is the closest Western equivalent. Atractylodes slices are considered “warm” and “dry” in the traditional Chinese system of medicine (in the sense that it is said to remove “excess dampness” from the digestive and intestinal tract), and thus one of the “yin” herbs.

Atractylodes slices are among the bulk herbs used as an infusion, which means that the atractylodis macrocephalae is boiled in hot water and served as tea. Because TCM considers atractylodis macrocephalae to be among the “dry” organic herbs, it is said to be beneficial for any cold or damp-related ailments.

While there are no known interactions with these specific dried herbs, it should be noted that an infusion of atractylodes slices acts as a diuretic; thus, those suffering from dehydration should avoid taking it, and it is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before beginning to take any herbal products.

How do you make Shen Qu?

How do you make Shen Qu

Before we answer this question let cover what Shen Qu is.

Medicated Leaven (or, as it is sometimes translated, “massa fermentata” or, in Chinese, Shen Qu) distinguishes itself by combining a number of herbs. It’s actually a simple recipe of wheat flour, bran, flowering pants, artemisia, and apricot that’s covered in hemp paper or mulberry leaves and fermented.

The mixture is kept in a controlled dampness environment, and once fermentation is complete (about a week), it is cut into cubes and sun-dried.

Preparation: Medicated leaven is typically made from a combination of wheat flower, artemisia annua, xanthium, polygonum, and other herbs. It is sometimes made with puréed apricot kernels and artemisia. The mixture is protected, fermented for one week, cut into small pieces, and sun-dried.

​​What is Yi Yi Ren?

What is Yi Yi Ren

Yi Yi Ren, also recognized as coix seeds of Job’s tears, is native to China’s Fujian, Hebei, and Liaoning provinces. It is usually oval in shape and has a white surface. It has a sweet flavor and cooling properties. The seeds are used to treat conditions of the spleen, stomach, lungs, skin, liver, and large intestine in traditional Chinese medicine.

The Yi Yi ren plant resembles tall grass, reaching a height of 3 to 7 feet (1 to 2 meters). The egg-shaped seeds reach maturity and are harvested in the fall. The seeds are peeled to remove the shell before being stir-baked or stir-fried until the surface turns yellow. The raw and cooked seeds are commonly found in Asian markets, but the tea and powder forms are usually only found in specialty stores.

Yi Yi ren benefits the health of many internal organs, particularly the spleen and lungs. It removes heat, reduces swelling, relieves joint pain, eliminates phlegm, drains pus, and induces diuresis. It is also used by Chinese medicine practitioners to treat diarrhea, rheumatism, arthritis, and cancer.

The seeds’ ingredients are also said to treat skin diseases and improve the skin, hair, and nails. According to one study, Yi Yi ren improves cytotoxic activity, which may help the body fight viral infections.

How Atractylodes Work

How Atractylodes Work

The most commonly used part of atractylodes is the rhizome. The rhizomes of atractylodes species contain a variety of constituents, including sesquiterpenoids such as atractylon and atractylenolides, essential oils such as hinesol, and beta-eudesmol, and L-phenylalanine.

In short, chemicals found in atractylodes may improve digestive tract function while also reducing pain and swelling (inflammation).

In general, atractylodes research has been conducted in China, with a focus on pharmacological inquiry and animal experiments. In-vitro and animal studies show that it has substantial diuretic, sedative, and hypoglycemic (blood glucose-lowering) effects. According to animal studies, an essential oil is responsible for the sedative effects. It also aids digestion and relieves nausea and diarrhea.

Atractylone, atractylol, butenolide B, acetoxyatractylon, hydroxyatractylon, and vitamin A are major chemical constituents.

Properties of Atractylodes

Properties of Atractylodes

Because of their long history of use, the benefits of Atractylodes are well known throughout the world. Everyone, from great grandparents to TCM doctors, advises using Atractylodes for trying to treat health conditions because it does not expose one to the side effects that drugs do.

Some of the advantages of Atractylodes are as follows:

  • α-humulene and β-humulene
  • Atractlone
  • Beishulenolide A
  • Α-curcumene
  • Hinesol
  • Peroxiatractylenolide III
  • Β-elemol
  • Atractylenolides I-IV

All blacks and whites atractylodes have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat digestive and urinary issues. Black atractylodes are drier than white atractylodes. White atractylodes also functions as a “Spleen Qi tonic,” which means it rebuilds metabolic function by increasing nutrition, increasing energy, and regulating fluids. White atractylodes also was assumed to have digestive and liver restorative and normalizing properties.



Atractylodes is not commonly found in American health food stores, but it is available in most Chinese dispensaries and Asian grocery stores. Atractylodes of high quality is large, firm, solid, aromatic, and have a yellowish cross-section.

Another advantage of Atractylodes is that it is easily available to buy. It comes in a variety of forms. It is available in the form of dried, sliced roots, capsules, or a liquid tincture. The required dose may vary depending on your needs, so consult with a practitioner to determine which form is best for you.

The recommended dose is 3–10 g as a decoction (strong tea) or 1–4 ml of the tincture. Doses of dried material range from 3 to 12 g.

Atractylodes are frequently prescribed in combination with moisture-removing medications and digestive aids. Chinese herbalists frequently combine atractylodes with other Chinese herbs. The major herbs in which it is combined, as well as the symptomatology for which the mixtures are prescribed, are listed below.

– For abdominal pain, distention, vomiting, and diarrhea use radix codonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula, Dang Shen) and rhizoma zingiberis (Zingiber Officinalis, Gan Jiang, dried ginger root).

Fructus Immaturus Citri Aurantii (Citrus aurantium, Zhi Shi, unripened bitter orange) for Spleen deficiency with qi stagnation.

– For damp-cold painful obstruction or vaginal discharge, use grey or black atractylodes (Atractylodes japonica, Cang Zhu).

Sclerotium Poriae Cocos (Poria cocos; Fu Ling; tuckahoe, poria, or Indian bread) and Ramulus Cinnamomi Cassiae (Cinnamomum cassia, Gui Zhi, cinnamon twig) for congested fluids and edoema caused by Spleen deficiency.

Fructus Tritici (Triticum aestivum, Fu Xiao Mai, name wheat grain) and Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus, Huang Qi) for unrelenting spontaneous sweating.

Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae (Citrus reticulata, Chen Pi, aged tangerine rind) and Ramulus Perillae (Perilla frutescens, Su Geng) for restless foetus disorder with qi stagnation causing distention and fullness in the chest and abdomen.

Major Compounds in Atractylodes

Major Compounds in Atractylodes

The compounds found in Atractylodes play an important role in the plant’s beneficial effects on the body. Volatile oils, vitamins,  lactone compounds, and amino acids with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are among them. Some of them include:

  • Improved gastrointestinal function
  • Anti-clotting
  • Anti-oxidative effect against oxidative stress
  • Promote urination
  • Joint pain
  • Prevent abortion
  • Strengthen uterus
  • Treating swelling or inflammationin the body
  • Gastric disorders
  • Boost immunity
  • Help Control blood sugar level
  • Help Decrease sweating
  • Protect liver and gallbladder
  • Release muscular spasm
  • Decreased appetite
  • Reduce the risk of estrogen-induced carcinoma
  • Fight against the ​​Common cold and flu
  • Increase blood levels
  • And, Improve the function of the kidney

Atractylodes Being Used in Tradition Chinese Medicine

Atractylodes Being Used in Tradition Chinese Medicine

Atractylodes have numerous advantages and can be used to treat a variety of gastrointestinal issues ranging from diarrhea to abdominal distention. Atractylodes were found to slow and suppress dopamine-induced stomach emptying and gastrointestinal motility in mice in a study conducted by the West China School of Pharmacy. As a result, it is frequently used in the treatment of both diarrhea and constipation.

Atractylodes is frequently used in the treatment of swelling and inflammation due to their anti-inflammatory properties. It has been demonstrated that it inhibits the production of free radical nitric oxide. Reduced nitric oxide levels in the body result in decreased intestinal mucous permeability. This helps to alleviate the discomfort associated with bloating and swelling.

Free radicals are an inevitable byproduct of cell metabolism. They’re molecules with unpaired electrons. Free radicals are extremely unstable due to their odd number of electrons. They will try to steal more electrons from other molecules in order to become stable. As a result, they produce more free radicals and cause cell damage. Atractylodes macrocephala Rhizome has been shown in studies to inhibit the production of free radicals.

– A study from China’s College of Animal Science & Technology sought evidence of the immune-boosting properties of Atractylodes Macrocephala rhizome. They were able to show that the use of Atractylodes improved heat stress that caused damage to chicken spleens.

Inhibiting nitric oxide has a number of additional advantages. It can help to reduce the inflammation caused by inflammatory bowel disease. It has even been discovered to slow the growth of gastrointestinal tumors.

One of the most common cancers in women is breast cancer. Some types of breast cancer in women are estrogen-dependent. This merely means that estrogen may play a role in breast cancer cell proliferation. Inhibiting aromatase, an enzyme that triggers the conversion of androgens to estrogen, has been shown in studies to be beneficial in the treatment of breast cancer. Atractylodes have been shown to be an effective aromatase inhibitor in studies.

Below are more in-depth explanations on the benefits of the correct usage of Atractylodes!

Help Gain Better Digestive Health

Help Gain Better Digestive Health

Atractylodes aids in the treatment of gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, indigestion, distention, diarrhea, and GI weakness.

The GI tract is affected in a variety of ways, including delayed gastric emptying, lowered gastric secretions, and enhanced motility of the intestinal muscles. It even has anti-ulcer properties, which protect the wall lining.

Aractylodes may treat gastroparesis and workable dyspepsia by hindering the two prominent receptors, dopamine D2 and serotonin 5HT3. To prevent increased gastric emptying, it reduces somatostatin and corticotropin-releasing hormone production while increasing gastrin and motilin levels.

It promotes the proliferation of intestinal epithelial cells while inhibiting K- ATPase, Mg- ATPase, and H+, which may increase the risk of gastric ulcers, promote the better and healthier lining of the GI wall and increase the speed of the healing of mucosal ulcers.

Increase the Energy (Qi) Of Spleen/ Spleen Qi Tonic

Atractylodes is a very well tonic herb for spleen Qi maintenance. It fortifies the spleen and enables it to function normally while also regulating splenic secretion production.

It tends to treat food accumulation syndrome caused by abnormal splenic function and allows for normal, uninterrupted sleep. Diarrhea or general swelling caused by Spleen Qi deficiency can also be treated with Atractylodes in combination with other herbs.

Help Promote Body Fluids Metabolism

Help Promote Body Fluids Metabolism

Atractylodes remove excess fluid from the body and help stop phlegm, moisture content, and food accumulation. It is effective at dehumidification, which helps to treat congestion, tightness of the chest, vertigo, dizziness, and difficulty breathing caused by a disruption in body fluid metabolism.

It diminishes flaccidity, swelling, and edema by regulating fluid accumulation and drying dampness beneath the skin and within the tissues.

Aides to Soothing the Uterus During Pregnancy

Atractylodes are used for a variety of cases where a pregnancy is threatened due to a variety of deficiency disorders such as anemia, Qi deficiency, and so on. It serves to strengthen the uterus while decreasing the likelihood of abortion.

In a study on mice with embryo implant placement dysfunction, it was discovered that when the medicinal herb was ingested in the Bushenantai dish of Chinese Traditional medicine, improved results were observed.

Furthermore, it can be used to treat vaginitis caused by pathogens such as trichomonas and Haemophilus.

Improve The Movement Of Intestine And Bowel

Improve The Movement Of Intestine And Bowel

Extensive research and testing have established Atractylodes’ consequences on the gastrointestinal tract. It regulates bowel movement patterns by acting on receptors and regulating secretions from GI tract-associated glands.

According to research, it treats diarrhea and abnormal intestinal movements by preventing the production of inflammatory mediators that alter peristaltic movements.

Another study on the medicinal plant’s ethyl acetate found that it specifically starts acting on the longitudinal muscles of the small bowel and increases peristaltic movements.



Side Effects

When taken in appropriate amounts (1.32 grammes daily) for a short period of time, attractylenolide, a chemical found in atractylodes, appears to be safe (up to seven weeks). It has the potential to cause nausea, dry mouth, and a bad taste in the mouth.

Appetite loss: Taking a purified atractylodes ingredient called atractylenolide appears to improve appetite in people who’ve lost weight due to stomach cancer, according to new research.

– When used orally, atractylodes are possibly Harmful To the body during pregnancy. It has resulted in the death or harm of unborn babies in animals. To be on the safe side, avoid using it.

– Breast-feeding: There is insufficient reliable information to determine whether atractylodes are reliable or safe to use while breastfeeding. To be on the safe side, avoid using it.

– Ragweed and related plant allergies: Atractylodes may cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. C  chrysanthemums, marigolds, Ragweed, daisies, and many other plants are members of this family. If you have any allergies, consult with your doctor before taking atractylodes.

– Atractylodes has the potential to slow blood clotting. Atractylodes may, in theory, raise the risk of cuts and bruises and losing blood in people with blood disorders.

– Atractylodes may slow blood clotting during surgery. It is feared that it will cause additional bleeding during surgery. Halt the usage of atractylodes at least 2 weeks prior to actually having the surgery.

What does Cang Zhu do?

What does Cang Zhu do?

The herb is described in traditional Chinese medicine as spicy or odorous, harsh, toasty, and flavourful, acting on the spleen as well as stomach meridians.

As a stomachic – for “Damp Obstruction or Accumulation in the Middle Jiao,” with symptoms including low desire to eat, abdominal distension, epigastric distress and fullness, indigestion, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, nausea, weariness, a heavy sensation in the body, and a thick greasy tongue coating.

Exopathogens must be eliminated in order to “dispel wind-damp-cold (bi-syndrome),” which is defined as “headaches and body aches, fever, chills, blocked nasal passages, and an absence of sweating.

To treat “damp-heat conditions” in the lower Jiao, such as “damp leg Qi, body aches and swollen bones, and vaginal discharge” (leukorrhea). This includes arthralgia, swollen knees, and foot pain relief. Combinations such as San Miao San or Er Maio San can be used to treat these conditions.


Interaction Level: Moderate

Use this combination with caution:

  • ATRACTYLODES interacts with hexobarbital – Hexobarbital’s effects may be enhanced by atractylodes. Taking atractylodes with hexobarbital may result in excessive sleepiness.
  • ATRACTYLODES interacts with estrogen-sensitive cancer medications (Aromatase inhibitors) – Hormones in the body can cause some types of cancer. Estrogen-sensitive types of cancer are types of cancer that are impacted by the body’s estrogen levels.

Medications for estrogen-sensitive cancers aid in the reduction of estrogen in the body. Atractylodes may also reduce estrogen levels in the body. Taking atractylodes with medications for estrogen-sensitive cancers may cause an excessive decrease in estrogen in the body.

Aminoglutethimide (Cytadren), anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin), letrozole (Femara), and other medications are used to treat estrogen-sensitive cancers.

  • ATRACTYLODES interacts with medications that delay blood clotting (anticoagulant / antiplatelet drugs) – Atractylodes may inhibit blood clotting. Taking atractylodes with other medications that slow clotting may increase the likelihood of bruising and bleeding.

Aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, indomethacin (Indocin), ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood clotting medications are examples.


The acceptable dose of atractylodes is determined by several factors, including the user’s age, health, and other conditions. There is currently insufficient scientific evidence to determine an appropriate dose for atractylodes. Keep in mind that natural products are not always safe, and dosages can be critical. Before using, make sure to read the product label and consult your pharmacist, physician, or other healthcare professional.



Though the medical community is hesitant to adopt any potential treatment that has not been thoroughly tested and approved for use, Atractylodes is not a new discovery. Though most medical doctors agree that more research on the benefits of Atractylodes is needed, TCM practitioners have been using it in their practices for centuries.

Atractylodes are an option to consider for those suffering from gastrointestinal issues, bloating, swelling, or a weakened immune system due to its long history and use in TCM.

It is reasonably priced and widely available for purchase. If you think you would like to try it out to achieve some of these Atractylodes benefits, speak with your or a new practitioner to discuss some options regarding this and hopefully decide which form and dose are right for you so you can get started on your new journey!