Bupleurum (Bupleurum falcatum)

Traditional Indications

Bupleurum is a sedative, antioxidant, antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, immune stimulant, and reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (1)

In TCM Bupleurum is called Chai Hu 柴胡. Chai Hu is said to be bitter, pungent and cool and enters the Gallbladder, Liver, Pericardium and San Jiao channels. Bupleurum clears less yang disorders such as fever, chills, bitter taste, irritable, vomiting, treats Liver Qi stagnation disorders such as vertigo, menstrual disorder, chest pain, bloating and tonifies Spleen Qi and treats stomach deficiency disorders such as prolapsed organs, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. Chai Hu is prescribed for fevers, flu, the common cold, cough, fatigue, headache, tinnitus, liver disorders, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), dysmenorrhoea, depression, anorexia, inflammation, lung congestion, malaria, angina, epilepsy, pain, muscle cramps, rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, indigestion, ulcers, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea and constipation. (2)

Pharmacognosy

Bupleurum falcatum prevents depression and anxiety-like behaviours in rats exposed to repeated restraint stress. (3)

Many natural products and herbal ingredients are observed to possess robust antiviral activity. The triterpenoid saponins (saikosaponins) from the roots of Bupleurum display potent Anti-influenza activity (4) These Saikosaponins have been shown to inhibit influenza A virus replication. (5)

The saikosaponins, flavonoids & steroids including rutin, isoquercetrin, isorhamnetin, quercetin, β-sitosterol, α-spinasterol, daucosterol, α-spinasterol glucoside in bupleurum inhibit C P450 enzymes (CYP1A2, CYP2C9 & CYP3A4). This is desirable in excess persistent organic pollutant bioaccumulation (toxicity) as toxins induce or speed up Phase I liver detoxification pathways leading to Phase II detoxification pathways being overburdened. (6, 7)

1. PFAF. Bupleurum falcatum 2019 [Available from: https://pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Bupleurum+falcatum.
2. Healing WRIo. Bupleurum (Chai Hu). 2019.
3. Lee B, Yun HY, Shim I, Lee H, Hahm DH. Bupleurum falcatum prevents depression and anxiety-like behaviors in rats exposed to repeated restraint stress. Journal of microbiology and biotechnology. 2012;22(3):422-30.
4. Fang W, Yang YJ, Guo BL, Cen S. Anti-influenza triterpenoid saponins (saikosaponins) from the roots of Bupleurum marginatum var. stenophyllum. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters. 2017;27(8):1654-9.
5. Chen J, Duan M, Zhao Y, Ling F, Xiao K, Li Q, et al. Saikosaponin A inhibits influenza A virus replication and lung immunopathology. Oncotarget. 2015;6(40):42541-56.
6. Yu T, Chen X, Wang Y, Zhao R, Mao S. Modulatory effects of extracts of vinegar-baked Radix Bupleuri and saikosaponins on the activity of cytochrome P450 enzymes in vitro. Xenobiotica; the fate of foreign compounds in biological systems. 2014;44(10):861-7.
7. Mohamed L Ashour FSY, Haidy A Gad, Michael Wink2. Inhibition of Cytochrome P450 (CYP3A4) Activity by Extracts from 57 Plants Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Pharmacogn Mag. 2016.