Notopterygium (Qiang Huo)
Botanical Name: Notopterygium incisum Tncisum Ting, Notopterygium forbesii Boiss
Notopterygium is an herb with a long history in Oriental medicine. It is often included in patent blends for treating joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis. It is a relative of the angelica species, and while having similar properties it also has its own strengths for healing upper body joint and muscle pain. It is also used to treat the early stages of colds with accompanying chills, fever, and body aches. The plant has become endangered. Please use cultivated varieties and not herbs harvested in the wild.
Below is an overview of Notopterygium (Qiang Huo), 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 Notopterygium (Qiang Huo).
Western Name: Notopterygium
Also Known As: N/A
Organs/Systems: Muscular/Skeletal System, Sinuses
Key Actions: Analgesic, Antipyretic, Anti-inflammatory, Antifungal, Diaphoretic, Antibiotic, Antirheumatic
Medicinal Uses: Colds, flu, joint pain, arthritis, bodyache, headaches.
Pin Yin: Qiang Huo
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Bladder, Kidney
Key Actions: Clears Wind and Wind Cold, Eliminates Dampness, Unblocks Painful Obstructions, Releases the Exterior.
Medicinal Uses: Colds, chills, fever with no sweating, headache at the vertex or occiput, stiff neck, sharp joint pain, arrhythmia, shoulder pain, upper back pain, muscle pain, eczema caused by allergic reactions, general feelings of heaviness.
Notopterygium is a perennial herb in the family Umberlliferae. Its rhizomes are cylinder-shaped or irregular lumps, and are dark brown to reddish brown. The plants stems are cylindrical and hollow with a lavender surface and vertical stripes. The basal leaves have a long handle, which extend into a membranous sheath from the base of both sides. The plant has greenish-white five-petaled flowers that bloom in dense umbellues from July to September, and fruit that ripens from August to October.
Both varieties of notopterygium are native to East Asia. Today, it is mainly grown in Sichuan, Qinghai, Shaanxi, and Henan. It likes mountainous terrains, and grows on forest edges and areas that border the grasslands of these higher elevations.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Root, Rhizome
Flavors/Temps: Acrid, Bitter, Warm, Dry, Ascending, Aromatic.
Caution: Considered safe, but overdosing could cause vomiting. Not recommended for headaches or joint pain caused by blood deficiency, which are interior conditions that are not caused by external Wind and/or Damp. It is not recommended for use during pregnancy.
History/Folklore: Notopterygium is known in Oriental medicine for its ability to expel Wind and Damp. Two External Pathogenic Factors associated with the symptoms of colds and flus, headaches, congestion, joint pain, aching shoulders. It is best known for treating arthritis, body aches and joint pain especially identified with the upper body, shoulders, and back of the head. It is considered excellent for powerfully eliminating external Dampness. It is particularly useful for treating what are called Tai Yang headaches.
Originally thought to be the same plant as angelica, it is has long been recognized as its own variety of plant. Both plants are in the family Umberlliferae, and have similar properties. However, notopterygium is considered to be stronger and have a stronger flavor than angelica, making it better for treating fevers. Compared to angelica, notopterygium is a more strongly upward moving herb with greater ability to cause sweating, making it an excellent herb for treating spinal diseases and pain in the upper body and the back of the head. Comparatively, angelica has a stronger descending quality, making it better for treating rheumatism of the lower body, and joint pain in the foot, low back, legs and shin. The two herbs are often paired together to enhance their individual and mutual properties.
Notopterygium is also often paired with cinnamon for expelling Wind and Cold. Comparatively, notopterygium is better for treating Wind Damp in the head, neck, and back, while cinnamon is better for treating Wind Damp in the shoulders, arms, and fingers.
While both notopterygium and ledebouriella specialize in expelling Wind, notopterygium is considered to be the stronger of the two herbs for this function. Notopterygium reaches more deeply into the body penetrating to the bones and tendons. Notopterygium, ledebouriella, and atractylodes are often combined to treat Wind Cold exterior syndromes. Notopterygium, ledebouriella, and turmeric are often combined to treat Wind Cold Damp Bi Syndromes associated with joint and arthritic pain.
Notopterygium is considered a guide herb to the governing vessel and greater yang channels.
The herb has been used as an injectable in China for its analgesic (reduce pain) and antipyretic (reduce fevers) properties.
Notopterygium roots and rhizomes are aromatic, cylinder-shaped or irregular lumps, and are dark brown to reddish brown.
The recommended dosage of notopterygium is 6 to 15 g for teas and decoctions. 3 to 10 g when used in pill or powdered forms.
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Coumarin compounds (Isoimperatorin, Notopterol, Bergaptol, Nodakenetin, Imperatorin, Marmesin), Phenolic compounds (Ferulic acid), Sterols, Volatile oils (Thujene, Pinene, Terpinene, Limonene, Apiol), Fatty acids, Amino acids (Aspartic acid, Arginine, Leucine, Valine, Methionine), Sugars (Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose), Phenethyl ferulate.
Due to over harvesting, environmental impacts, and destruction of habitat, notopterygium is listed as an endangered species. Programs are underway to promote its cultivation and begin restoring the herbs habitat.
It is thought that the roots harvested in the spring are better quality than the roots harvested in the fall.
Ancient Oriental texts describe notopterygium as being a “masculine dispersing Qi” herb.
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