Phellodendron (Huang Bai)
Botanical Name: Phellodendron amurense
Don’t confuse the herb phellodendron (Phellodendron amurense) with philodendron (Philodendron), an ornamental indoor and common house plant! While the names are similar the plants are entirely different. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, phellodendron, or Huang Bai, is considered one of the top 50 herbs used for healing. It is especially noted for its ability to clear heat and toxins from the body, including eliminating damp-heat from the bladder and kidneys.
Below is an overview of Phellodendron (Huang Bai), 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 Phellodendron (Huang Bai).
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Western Name: Phellodendron
Also Known As: Amur Cork Tree
Organs/Systems: Bladder, Liver, Lungs
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Immune Enhancing, Anti-cancer. Lowers blood sugar, weight loss, obesity, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, meningitis, eye infections, psoriasis, tuberculosis, cirrhosis of the liver, pneumonia, insomnia, calming.
Pin Yin: Huang Bai (translates as “Yellow Fir”)
Also Known As: Chao Huang Bai (dried-fried phellodendron bark)
Meridians: Liver, Kidney, Bladder
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Clears Heat/Dries Dampness: yellow vaginal discharge, diarrhea with strong odor, jaundice, acute urinary tract infections, swollen red knees, legs or feet, tuberculosis, pneumonia, cirrhosis of the liver. Reduces Fire/Releases Toxins: night sweats, afternoon fevers, steaming bone disorder, nocturnal emissions, spermatorrhea, skin abscesses, boils, eczema and yellow oozing lesions.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Bark, Root, Berry, Twigs
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Cold
Caution: Not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding due to the constituent berberine, otherwise considered very safe.
History/Folklore: “Huang” means yellow in Chinese, and is derived from the bright yellow color of the plant’s inner bark. The bark is peeled from the tree and allowed to dry in the sun.
The Chinese have used the herb for centuries to help repair tissues and bones. The Ainu peoples of China use the plant as a painkiller.
Combined with other calming and Qi (Energy) building herbs, phelledendron is used by athletes, bodybuilders and martial artists to aid sleep and recover from strong workouts. It helps repair muscles and sooth aches and pains.
The constituent berberine can be toxic if overdosed, but used properly is shown to reduce blood sugar and bad cholesterol, helping to protect the liver from toxicity.
New studies are indicating that phellodendron has the potential to prevent the growth of prostrate tumors and the leaves may be better at scavenging free radicals than vitamin E, further contributing to the plant’s anti-cancer abilities.
A study in China of 18 patients from age 4-24 with meningitis were treated with phellodendron for 1-18 days and all recovered, with the time for healing depending on the severity of the illness. Milder symptoms showed immediate improvements.
There are three kinds of dried-fried phellodendron bark: salt-fried, wine-fried and charred. The salt-fried version helps nourish Yin and helps counter the plants bitter drying nature. The wine-fried version helps move the healing effects upward in the body, helping to clear conditions of the lung, throat and head. The charred version is primarily used for clearing dampness as it is more astringing and is often used to treat blood in the stools.
Berberine alkaloid, Magnoflorine, Phellodendrine, Candicine, Lumicaeruleic acid, Campesterol, Glycosides, Phenolic compounds, Phytonutrients.
How to Eat Phellodendron
Phellodendron bark can be eaten raw, or fried with salt, wine or charred.
Phellodendron can be bought sliced and dried or powdered.
Good Quality Phellodendron
Good quality phellodendron is thick, large and bright yellow.
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