Herb: Bei Chai Hu

Latin name: Bupleurum chinense

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Bei Chai Hu:

Bei chai hu root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2,000 years. It is a bitter herb that is used to harmonize the body, balancing the different organs and energies within the body. It strengthens the digestive tract, acts as a tonic for the liver and circulatory system, lowers fevers and has anti-viral effects. The root is alterative, analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, antipyretic, antiviral, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, haemolytic, hepatic, pectoral, sedative. It is taken internally in the treatment of malaria, blackwater fever, uterine and rectal prolapse, haemorrhoids, sluggish liver, menstrual disorders, abdominal bloating etc. The roots are harvested in the autumn and can be used fresh or dried. The root contains saikosides. These saponin-like substances have been shown to protect the liver from toxicity whilst also strengthening its function, even in people with immune system disorders. These saikosides also stimulate the body's production of corticosteroids and increase their anti-inflammatory affect. The plant is often used in preparations with other herbs to treat the side effects of steroids.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Grassy areas on hills and mountain slopes in Korea.

Edible parts of Bei Chai Hu:

Leaves and young shoots - cooked.The new growth in spring and autumn is used. It is a good source of rutin. Root - cooked. A famine food, used when all else fails.

Other uses of the herb:

The old plant is used as a fuel.

Propagation of Bei Chai Hu:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 8 weeks at 15C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer or following spring. Division in spring. Very easy, larger clumps can be planted direct into their permanent positions. It is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are well rooted before planting them out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Grassy areas on hills and mountain slopes in Korea.

Known hazards of Bupleurum chinense:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.