Chang Shan (Dichroa Root)

Dichroa RootSince about 2,000 years ago, Chang Shan (Dichroa Root) has been chosen to treat malaria. This is an herb from Hydrangea usually found in Tibet and Nepal. As you may know, halofuginone is a compound originated from the active ingredient of Changshan extract. And recent studies also indicate that halofuginone can also be used for many types of autoimmune diseases. What’s more, now a research conducted in Harvard University School of Dental Medicine has unveiled the secret of how halofuginone works to prohibit the growing of undesirable immune cells. If you are interested in knowing more, please click here.

What is Chang Shan?

From the standpoint of TCM, Chang Shan refers to the root of Dichroa febrifuga Lour. a saxifragaceae plant. It mainly grows in Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan, and Hubei provinces in China. Usually it is harvested in fall. Before the use, it needs to have fibrous roots removed, washed, dried, or prepared with wine or vinegar.

What is Changshan used for?

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that Chang Shan is bitter, acrid, and cold in nature. It covers three meridians, such as heart, liver, and lung. It is mainly used for stopping malaria and prompting to throw up sputum in the chest. Main uses and indications are the syndrome of water and phlegm retention in chest and malaria-induced fever. And typical dosage is from 4.5 to 9 grams, in the form of decoction. And less dosage should be used in the forms of pills and powder. In addition, unprocessed Changshan root is better in stimulating vomiting, while wine-prepared one is better in preventing malaria. In addition, to maximize its healing property, it’s better to be taken half a day or 2 hours before the onset of malaria.

Modern medicinal effects

Modern research has found that it contains febrifugine A, B, C. These three tautomers are the main antimalarial active ingredient, or better known as halofuginone. As mentioned earlier, the changshan decoction and alcohol extract have a significant effect on malaria treatment. According to some statistics, the therapeutic effect of febrifugine A is equal to that of quinine; febrifugine C is the most powerful one and approximately 100 times of quinine; febrifugine B is in between. Besides, this herb is also capable of lowering blood pressure, exciting uterus, and resisting tumors, influenza virus, and amebic protozoa.

Related Chinese herbal formulas

There is an old saying “No phlegm no malaria.” Chang Shan herb, a main antimalarial, is good at eliminating phlegm and thus stopping malaria. It is widely used in a variety of malaria, especially tertian fever and quartan ague. The typical herbal formulas containing this herb are as follows.

Sheng Jin Wan

This prescription is from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary). It cures all types of malaria that manifests alternating episodes of chills and fever and occurring at set times. Main herbs are powders of Changshan, soaked in wine and steamed, and Bing Lang;

Changshan Yin

This formula is from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It specializes in treating chills and fever in malaria, or onset every two or three days. This herb is usually combined with Hou Po, Cao Dou Kou, Rou Dou Kou, and Bing Lang;

Jie Nue Yin

This prescription is from Yi Zong Bi Du (A Gathering of Ancestral Medicine Which Must be Studied). It is suitable for lasting malaria because of deficiency. Hence, this herb needs to join hand with Huang Qi, Ren Shen, Wu Mei, and more;

Jie Nue Chang Shan Yin

This formula is from Dan Xi Xin Fa (Dan Xi’s Heart Methods of Treatment). It can be a better choice if the lasting malaria has leaded to a lump in the abdomen. Other main herbs are Bie Jia, San Leng, and E Zhu.

Potential dichroa root side effects and contraindications

Studies in modern medicine showed that Chang Shan (dichroa febrifuga root) is a strong emetic, which thus may cause damage to liver and kidney. The typical poisoning symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In severe cases, congestion or hemorrhage in the gastrointestinal mucosa may occur due to the destruction of capillary. Besides, it might also cause heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and cyanosis, drop in blood pressure, and end up with death because of circulatory failure.

TCM wise, Changshan is considered as toxic and good at inducing vomiting. Hence, the dosage should be strictly controlled. And it should beware that this herb is not suitable for the weak and the pregnant.

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