Herb: Gutta-Percha


Latin name: Eucommia ulmoides


Family: Eucommiaceae



Medicinal use of Gutta-Percha:

Gutta-percha, known as Du Zhong in China, is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. It is considered to be an excellent tonic for the kidneys and liver, and is thought to act specifically on the lower part of the body. Much interest has been aroused by Du Zhong's ability to reduce high blood pressure. In a clinical trial involving 119 people, 46% of those treated with the herb showed a significant reduction in blood pressure. However, it seems to have little effect in cases of severe hypertension. The stem bark is analgesic, anticholesterolemic, aphrodisiac, depurative, diuretic, hepatic, hypotensive, sedative, tonic and vasodilator. Its use lowers blood pressure (the stir-fried bark is stronger than raw and a decoction is stronger than a tincture) and reduces the absorption of cholesterol. It is used in the treatment of impotence, frequent urination, lumbago, weakness of the lower part of the body, aching back and knees, hypertension and threatened abortion. The flowers and the fruit are astringent.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
12 m
(39 feet)

Flovering:
April

Habitat of the herb:

Mountainous regions. Lower mountains, valleys or sparsely forests at elevations of 300 - 500 metres in Gansu, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces.

Edible parts of Gutta-Percha:

Young leaves. No further details are given.

Other uses of the herb:

A rubber is obtained from the sap, but not in commercially viable quantities. The leaves contain 3% dry weight of gutta-percha, a non-elastic rubber, used for insulation of electrical wires etc. The gutta-percha is found in all parts of the tree and is extracted by alcohol. The wood is used for making Pattens (a type of shoe with raised soles).

Propagation of Gutta-Percha:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stratify stored seed for 3 months at 2C. Germination is usually good and takes place in the first spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Mountainous regions. Lower mountains, valleys or sparsely forests at elevations of 300 - 500 metres in Gansu, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces.

Known hazards of Eucommia ulmoides:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.