Lindera root, also known as Wu Yao in Pinyin, is a famous Chinese herbal medicine that is commonly used to promoting and regulating the circulation of vital energy. Clinically it is frequently used to treat abdominal pain, hernia, and so on. The details of its origin, medicinal properties, harvesting, and medicinal parts were first recorded in “The Supplements to Compendium of Materia Medica” (Ben Cao Gang Mu Shi Yi). And the one grown in Tiantai Zhejiang has long been considered as the best on quality. By the way, Tiantai Mountain is a place of origin to quite a few other famous Chinese herbs, e.g. Tienchi Ginseng, Atractylodes, Peony root, Poria, and more.
What is lindera root?
Just as its name implies, it refers to the roots of Lindera aggregata (Sims) Kosterm, a plant species in the family Lauraceae. And it is also commonly known as Japanese evergreen spicebush, radix lindera, and evergreen lindera. But please don’t confuse it with lindera benzoin since they come from the same genus. In China it is basically produced in Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangsu, and Shaanxi. It can be harvested all the year round, followed by removal of fine roots, washing, slicing when fresh, and drying in the sun. Medicinally it is used raw or fried with bran.
Medicinal lindera comes from single wild source. Lindera aggregata is an evergreen shrub or small tree. Leaves are leathery, oval-shaped, with 3 veins and off-white, piliferous lower surface. It is a spring-flowering plant, with mall, pale yellow petals. It is dioecious and with umbel. Fruits are black. Leaves and fruit can be used to extract aromatic oils.
Roots contains Linderol (Borneol), Sesquiterpenoids, Laurolitsine, and the like. And Sesquiterpenoids include Linderane, Linderalactone, Isolinderalactone, Neolinderalactone, Lindestrenolide, Linderene, Lindenenone, Lindestrene, Linderene acetate, Isolinderoxide, Linderaic acid (C15H18O3), Linderazulene, Chamazulene, and so on.
Lindera root health benefits
In the eyes of ordinary people it is a small shrub, just like those commonly seen around. But from the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, it is a very good medicine that can cure. Being one of essential ingredient in the Kampo herb list, it is frequently added to many Chinese patent drugs, typifying by Chaihu Shugan Wan and TianTai Wuyao Wan (the Lindera Combination Teapills).
Just like any other herbs that use a help from others, lindera is no exception. Combining it with others will bring a boost to its healing power. The paring with Chen Xiang (agilawood) is often used to treat liver-stagnation and spleen-deficiency induced chest tightness, abdominal distension, shortness of breath, fatigue, and vomiting; the paring with Dang Gui (Dong Quai) is ideal for congealing cold, Qi-stagnation and blood stasis caused dysmenorrhea, postpartum abdominal pain and hernia; the pairing with Mu Xiang (Costus) makes more sense in the treatment of abdominal pain, bloating and gastrointestinal neurosis that are caused by congealing cold and Qi-stagnation; the paring with Yi Zhi Ren (Black Cardamon) is preferable in treating frequent urination and enuresis due to kidney Yang-deficiency.
Modern pharmacological actions
1) It has two-way adjustments, namely excitability and inhibition, on the gastrointestinal smooth muscle;
2) It can promote the secretion of digestive juices;
3) Orally its volatile oil can excite the cerebral cortex, promote breathing, stimulate cardiac muscle, accelerate blood circulation, increase blood pressure and induce sweating;
4) External application of its can make local vasodilation, accelerate blood circulation, and ease muscle cramps;
5) It inhibits sarcoma S180 in mice.
Sample lindera recipes on herbal remedies
Based on the record of the “Chinese Pharmacopoeia”, it is acrid in flavor and warm in nature. It goes to the meridians of lung, spleen, kidney, and urinary bladder. Primary functions are guiding Qi downward to relieve pain and warming kidney for dispelling cold. Basic lindera root used and indications include abdominal pain and bloating, chest discomfort, dyspnea due to circulation of vital energy in the wrong direction, deficient and cold urinary bladder, enuresis, frequent urination, hernia, and dysmenorrhea. Recommended dosage is from 3 to 9 grams in decoction. In addition, lindera root extract is available too.
1) Wu Yao Shun Qi San from Chi Shui Xuan Zhu (The Black Pearl from the Red River). It is put together with Xiang Fu (Nut Grass Rhizome), agilawood, Sha Ren (Cardamom Seed), Ju Hong (Exocarpium Citri Erythrocarpae), and Ban Xia (Pinellia) to treat fullness and stagnation caused by worries, grief and sorrow;
2) Si Mo Tang from Ji Sheng Fang (Life-saving prescriptions). It is combined with Ren Shen (Ginseng), Bing Lang (betel nut), and agilawood to cure sorrow, wheezing, moodiness, and loss of appetite;
3) Xiang Fu San from Shen Zhai Yi Shu (shen-zhai’s Writings for Posterity). It is coupled with Cyperus to heal whole body pain caused by stagnation of blood and Qi;
4) Pai Qi Yin from Shen Shi Zun Sheng Shu (Master Shen’s Writings on Respecting Life). It is formulated with Chen Pi (Citrus Peel), Huo Xiang (Patchouli), Zhi Ke (Fructus Aurantii), Hou Po (Magnolia Bark), etc. to treat postpartum inverse Qi and indigestion pain;
5) Wu Yao San from Zhu Shi Ji Yan Fang (Collection of Experiential Prescription from Dr. Zhu). It is matched with Du Dang Gui (Peueedanum deeursivum) to cure postpartum abdominal pain;
6) Wu Yao San from Bo Ji Fang (Extensive Relieving Prescriptions). It is joined with Shi Luo (dill) to heal dry or wet beriberi;
7) Wu Jin Wan from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is charred, ground, and mixed with millet rice to make pills for bloody diarrhea.
Lindera root side effects and contraindications
Lindera root is non-toxic and causes no discomfort in the conventional dose of decoction. And it has no obvious side effects either even though in long-term use. TCM wise, it shouldn’t be used during pregnancy and in cases of the physically weak and patients of excess heat and internal heat due to yin deficiency.