Herb: Niu Xi


Latin name: Achyranthes bidentata


Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)



Medicinal use of Niu Xi:

The roots, leaves and stems are widely used in Chinese herbal medicine. They are anodyne, antirheumatic, bitter, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue and vasodilator. They act predominantly on the lower half of the body and are used in the treatment of aching back and knees and asthenia of the lower limbs. Research suggests that they can cause dilation of the cervix and so this herb should not be used when pregnant. The herb is taken internally to treat hypertension, back pains, urine in the blood, menstrual pain, bleeding etc. The root juice is used in Nepal in the treatment of toothache. This juice is also used in the treatment of indigestion and is considered to be a good treatment for asthma. The stem of the plant is used as a toothbrush that is said to be good for the teeth and is also a treatment for pyorrhoea. The plant can be used fresh or dried. The leaves and stems are harvested in the summer and are usually crushed for their juice or used in tinctures. The roots are harvested from 1 or 2 year old plants in the autumn or winter and usually dried and ground into a powder or used in decoctions.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
75 cm
(2 feet)

Flovering:
August to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Forest edges, the sides of streams and shrubberies. Moist shady places at elevations of 1200 - 3000 metres in Nepal.

Edible parts of Niu Xi:

Seed - cooked. A good substitute for cereal grains in bread-making, they have often been used for this purpose in famine years. Leaves - cooked. Used as a vegetable in the same manner as spinach.

Other uses of the herb:

Two insect-moulting hormones are found in the roots. Can this have a practical application as an insecticide? The stem of the plant is used as a toothbrush that is said to be good for the teeth and is also a treatment for pyorrhoea.

Propagation of Niu Xi:

Seed - sow late spring in a greenhouse. Germination should be fairly rapid, prick out the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich soil when they are large enough to handle. It is probably wise to grow this plant on in the greenhouse for its first winter, planting it out into its permanent position in late spring after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of the herb:

Forest edges, the sides of streams and shrubberies. Moist shady places at elevations of 1200 - 3000 metres in Nepal.

Known hazards of Achyranthes bidentata:

One report suggests that the root is poisonous.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.