Coptis (Huang Lian)
Botanical Name: Coptis chinensis
Coptis is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is well known in Oriental medicine for its ability to treat Damp Heat, a condition that impedes digestive function and is associated with bladder infections, joint pain, arthritis, diarrhea, and bowel irregularity. Coptis contains the powerful chemical compound berberine, famous for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. The herb is commonly used as a digestive aid.
Below is an overview of Coptis (Huang Lian), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Coptis (Huang Lian).
Western Name: Coptis
Also Known As: Golden Thread
Organs/Systems: Digestive System, Liver, Heart, Respiratory System
Key Actions: Antimicrobial, Immune Enhancing, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Analgesic, Detoxicant, Antipyretic
Medicinal Uses: Diarrhea, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, psoriasis, anticancer, respiratory infections.
Pin Yin: Huang Lian
Also Known As: Goldthread, Canker Root
Meridians: Spleen, Stomach, Heart, Liver, Large Intestine
Key Actions: Clears Heat, Dries Damp, Eliminates Toxicity, Drains Stomach and Liver Fire, Stops Bleeding due to Heat
Medicinal Uses: Diarrhea, blood in the stool, high fever, gastrointestinal disorders, stomach ulcers, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), dysentery, jaundice, gallstones, hepatitis, atherosclerosis, red painful eyes, lowers cholesterol, diabetes (wasting and thirsting disorder), acid regurgitation, scarlet fever, diphtheria, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, ulcerative colitis, canker sores, nosebleed, insomnia, restlessness, delirium, psoriasis, acne, boils, abscesses, burns.
Coptis is a genus of about 10 to 15 species in the flowering plant family Ranunculaceae. It is a stemless perennial herb. Its roots and rhizomes are yellow, branch often, and are covered with many fibrils. The leaves are basal with flowers that grow singly or in doubles and that are equal or longer than the leaves of the plant.
Coptis is native to Asia and North America. It likes the humid mountainous areas in low temperatures.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Roots, Rhizomes
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Very Cold
Caution: Considered safe but can cause nausea if taken in larger doses over a long period of time. It should be avoided if you are using antihypertensive medications.
History/Folklore: Coptis is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is commonly used in medicinal formulas for treating digestive issues, diabetes, lyme disease, insomnia, acne, weight loss, psoriasis, respiratory infections and more.
In Oriental medicine the roots bright yellow color suggest the herbs affinity with treating conditions of the Spleen and Stomach. Both these systems are identified with the color yellow and the Earth Element in the ancient Five Phase Theory of medicine. As a bitter yellow root it is noted for relieving Damp Heat, a condition that can, among other functions, impede proper digestion. From a western perspective, it is thought to reduce acids in the stomach that can cause digestive issues.
Coptis contains the constituent berberine, well known for its immune enhancing and antimicrobial properties. Berberine has been studied for its ability to help prevent obesity, fatty liver disease, and lowering cholesterol levels by activating AMPK (Adenosine 5’ monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an enzyme that plays an important role in the bodies ability to consume and produce energy.)
Coptis is used to prevent parasitic infections caused by leishmaniasis and trichomoniasis.
Coptis is often combined with other herbs, in order to treat Damp Heat anywhere in the body. This includes vaginal ulcerations, dizziness, epigastric discomfort, poor digestion, palpitations, diarrhea, dysentery, insomnia and other symptoms associated with Damp Heat.
The herb can also be dry-fried to help it enter the blood and warm its normally cold properties. Ginger-frying the herb will also warm the herb and make it easier on the stomach while helping to stop vomiting. Coptis can also be taken with fresh ginger to help counter the herbs bitter flavor. Recommended dose is 1 to 9 g of the dried roots or rhizomes.
While the roots can be harvested in the spring or fall, the roots harvested in the fall are considered superior.
Coptis japonica is the species that is native to Japan.
The threadlike yellow rhizomes are also used as a dye, especially for wool.
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Alkaloids (including Berberine, Palmatine, Coptisine, Epiberberine, Hydrastine) Ferulic acid, Tannins.
The yellow color of the plants threadlike rhizomes is largely due to their high alkaloid content.
Sting Your Eyes
An old legend says, coptis is so bitter that it could sting your eyes just by looking at it!
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