Herb: Bai Tou Weng


Latin name: Pulsatilla chinensis


Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)



Medicinal use of Bai Tou Weng:

Bai Tou Weng is thought to clear toxicity and to lower fever. It is most commonly taken as a decoction to counter infection within the gastro-intestinal tract. The root is anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent and sedative. The root is an effective cure for bacterial and amoebic dysentery. It is also used in the treatment of malaria, nose bleeds and haemorrhoids and is used externally to treat Trichomonas vaginitis. The root is harvested in the autumn or before the plant comes into flower in the spring, it can be dried for later use. The root contains the lactone protoanemonin which has an irritant and antibacterial action. Protoanemonin is destroyed when the root is dried. The fresh herb is a cardiac and nervous sedative, producing a hypnotic state with a diminution of the senses followed by a paralysing action. A constituent similar to digitalis can be extracted from the whole herb with the roots removed. This is cardiotonic.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Flovering:
March
to May

Habitat of the herb:

Dry grassy places and rocky hillsides. Forest margins and slopes at elevations of 200 - 3200 metres in China.

Propagation of Bai Tou Weng:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in early summer in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in about 2 - 3 weeks. Sow stored seed in late winter in a cold frame. Germination takes about 1 - 6 months at 15C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the spring. Root cuttings, 4cm long taken in early winter, potted up in a mixture of peat and sand. They can also be taken in July/August, planted vertically in pots in a greenhouse or frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry grassy places and rocky hillsides. Forest margins and slopes at elevations of 200 - 3200 metres in China.

Known hazards of Pulsatilla chinensis:

Although no mention has been seen for this species, at least one member of the genus is slightly toxic, the toxins being dissipated by heat or by drying the plant.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.