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Medically reviewed on Jun 7, 2018

What is Bupleurum?

Bupleurum is a perennial herb that grows mainly in China, but also is cultivated in other areas. The plant grows to approximately 1 m in height and requires abundant sun to flourish. The leaves are long and sickle-shaped with parallel veining. Terminal clusters of small, yellow flowers appear in autumn. The long cone or column-shaped, single or branched root is 10 to 20 cm in length and 0.5 to 1.5 cm in diameter. It is light brown to brown, may be wrinkled, and is easily broken.

Scientific Name(s)

Bupleurum falcatum L., (synonym Bupleurum chinense DC. and Bupleurum scorzonerifolium Willd.). Family: Apiaceae (carrots). Synonym: Umbelliferae

Common Name(s)

Beichaihu, Bupleuri Radix, bupleurum root, Chai-hu, Chaihu (Chinese), hare's ear root, Radix Bupleuri, Saiko (Japanese), thorowax, thorow wax.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Bupleurum is a traditional Chinese herb dating back to the first century BC and is one of the most commonly used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. One of China's harmony herbs purported to affect organs and energy in the body, bupleurum has been used as a liver tonic, with spleen and stomach toning properties. The plant has also been used to promote perspiration and treat fever, flu, distending pain in the chest, and menstrual disorders.

General uses

Bupleurum is being investigated for its antipyretic, immunomodulatory, GI tract, and hepatoprotective effects, as well as its potential in the prevention and treatment of cancers. Clinical trials are generally lacking.

What is the recommended dosage?

No clinical trials exist.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Side Effects

Mild lassitude, sedation, and drowsiness. Large doses may increase flatulence and bowel movements. Allergy to injected bupleurum has been reported.


The toxicity profile appears to be low; however, information is limited.


1. Bupleurum. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. October 2009. Accessed November 3, 2009.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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