Bai Zhu (Atractylodes macrocephala)

Traditional Indications

Atractylodes macrocephala is antibacterial, diuretic, sedative, stomachic and tonic. In Traditional Chinese Medicine Atractylodes macrocephala is known as Bái Zhú 白术 where it is said to be bitter-sweet and to enter the stomach and Spleen channels. Bái Zhú tonifies the Spleen and Supplements the Qi to treat loose stools, dairroea, fatigue, shortness of breath, sallow complexion, and lowered appetite. (1) Bái Zhú dries Damp and transforms and transports fluids, and is used to treat oedema caused by Spleen Qi Deficiency. Bái Zhú strengthens the Wei Qi and arrests sweating and stabilises pregnancy and calms the foetus.(2)

Pharmacognosy

Bái Zhú is part of a Chinese herbal formula called Shi Quan Da Bu Tang, traditionally used to tonify the Blood and Qi to treat anaemia, anorexia, extreme exhaustion, fatigue, kidney and spleen insufficiency and general weakness, particularly after illness and after chemotherapy. It has been found to potentiate (make it work better) chemotherapy and radiotherapy and inhibit malignant recurrences, prolong survival and prevent and ameliorate adverse toxicities in cancer treatment. (3) In Japanese herbal medicine (Kampo) the formula is known Juzen Taiho To and has been shown to increase expression of heavy metal chelating metallothioneins (MTs). (4) Shi Quan Da Bu Tang also increases transcription factor Nrf2 to support phase II detoxification thus regulate the body's detoxification and antioxidant system. (5)

1. PFAF. Atractylodes macrocephala 2019 [Available from: https://pfaf.org/USER/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Atractylodes+macrocephala.
2. Lotus S. Bai Zhu (White Atractylodes Rhizome) 2019 [Available from: https://www.sacredlotus.com/go/chinese-herbs/substance/bai-zhu-white-atractylodes-rhizome.
3. Chang I-M. Juzen-taiho-to (Shi-Quan-Da-Bu-Tang): Scientific Evaluation and Clinical Application. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2006;3(3):393-4.
4. Anjiki N, Hoshino R, Ohnishi Y, Hioki K, Irie Y, Ishige A, et al. A kampo formula Juzen-taiho-to induces expression of metallothioneins in mice. 2005;19(10):915-7.
5. Wu Q, Zhang D, Tao N, Zhu QN, Jin T, Shi JS, et al. Induction of Nrf2 and metallothionein as a common mechanism of hepatoprotective medicinal herbs. Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(1):207-21.