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Japanese Knotweed

Scientific Name(s): Polygonum cuspidatum Siebold & Zucc.
Common Name(s): Fleeceflower, Huzhang, Japanese bamboo, Japanese knotweed, Mexican bamboo

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 4, 2018.

Clinical Overview

Use

Huzhang (Japanese Knotweed) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as in Japan and Korea for many years. Although used for various applications, few clinical studies validate claims and guidance regarding dosing or safety is limited.

For information specific to the activity of resveratrol, see Resveratrol.

Dosing

Clinical evidence on which to base dosing guidelines is limited. One clinical study used an oral extract of P. cuspidatum 200 mg containing resveratrol 40 mg over 6 weeks for anti-inflammatory effect.

Contraindications

Pregnancy.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Do not use. Avoid use during lactation because information is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Clinical evidence is limited.

Toxicology

Information is limited.

Scientific Family

  • Polygonaceae (Buckwheat)

Botany

P. cuspidatum is a perennial plant growing to approximately 2 m tall. It has mucous hollow stems with reddish purple spots and ovate/elliptical deciduous leaves (5 to 12 cm by 4 to 9 cm). The male and female flowers occur on separate plants, and the fruits are black/brown, shiny, and ovoid. The plant is native to eastern Asia, including Japan, China, and Korea. It is cultivated in those countries and in the US, and is propagated by seeds or the root. Synonyms include Pleuropterus cuspidatus (Siebold & Zucc.) Moldenke, Fallopia japonica (Houtt.) Ronse Decr., Pleuropterus zuccarinii (Small) Small, Polygonum cuspidatum Siebold & Zucc. var. compactum (Hook. f.) L.H. Bailey, and Reynoutria japonica Houtt.

Because of the plant's spreading rhizomes, P. cuspidatum is grown commercially as a major source for resveratrol production (see Resveratrol monograph), while also being considered a noxious, invasive class B or C weed in certain US states.Chen 2013, Peng 2013, USDA 2013

History

At least 100 prescriptions using the root exist in the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China to treat bronchitis and cough, gonorrhea, inflammation, infection, jaundice, hyperlipidemia and hypertension, menopausal symptoms and amenorrhea, and skin burns. The root is used extensively in traditional medicine in China, Japan, and Korea, and the young plant parts are eaten as a vegetable. P. cuspidatum is a primary source of resveratrol, which is widely available in the United States as a botanical dietary supplement.Hao 2012, Li 2013, Peng 2013

Chemistry

Volatile essential oils are described for the leaves, but the roots are the main plant part used traditionally. Major constituent chemicals include quinines (eg, anthraquinone, naphthoquinone, phylloquinone) and emodin-type anthroquinones, stilbenes (eg, resveratrol, piceatannol polydatin), flavonoids (eg, quercetin, catechin, rutin), coumarins, lignans, and other compounds.Chen 2012, Du 2013, Hao 2012, Kirino 2012, Li 2013, Peng 2013, Piotrowska 2012, Shen 2011, Zhang 2012

Emodin and phsycion demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects.Shen 2011 The stilbene content, including resveratrol, resveratroloside, polydatin, and piceatannol, are responsible for observed antioxidant activity.Kirino 2012, Piotrowska 2012

Methods of identification have been published, including high-performance liquid chromatography and thin-layer chromatography, which are based on the content of emodin and polydatin (minimum concentrations of 0.6% and 0.15%, respectively, per the Chinese pharmacopoeia). Chemical composition varies seasonally and with harvest time.Babu 2005, Chen 2013, Hao 2012, Peng 2013

Uses and Pharmacology

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of Japanese knotweed for antioxidant effect.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Animal data

Reductions in inflammation and improvements in wound-healing rates were demonstrated with topical application of P. cuspidatum extract in studies in mice.Bralley 2008, Peng 2013, Wu 2012 With oral extract reductions in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL-6) and C-reactive protein were found in animals with experimentally induced arthritis.Han 2012 An analgesic effect was also demonstrated in rodents.Han 2012

Clinical data

Limited clinical studies have been conducted. A study among healthy volunteers found a decreased expression of modulators of inflammation in mononuclear cells following 6 weeks of P. cuspidatum extract daily containing resveratrol 40 mg.Ghanim 2010 A small study (N = 20) found decreased plasma TNF-alpha and IL-6 versus placebo.Zahedi 2013

Antimicrobial activity

Animal data

In vitro studies have shown broad antibacterial and antifungal activity of P. cuspidatum extracts.Peng 2013, Piotrowska 2012, Song 2006 Activity against Streptococcus mutans has been investigated in oral health.Ban 2010, Pandit 2012 An ethanol extract showed inhibitory activity against HIV-1 in vitro.Lin 2010, Peng 2013

Clinical data

There are no clinical data regarding the use of P. cuspidatum as an antimicrobial agent.

Antioxidant effects

Animal data

Studies in rats and mice have shown antioxidant properties of P. cuspidatum that are generally attributed to the chemical constituents of resveratrol, polydatin, piceatannol, and anthraquinones and stilbenes.Kim 2010, Peng 2013, Piotrowska 2012, Zhang 2012 Carbon tetrachloride–induced liver injury and induced acute cerebral ischemia were reduced by oral extracts of P. cuspidatum.Kim 2010, Zhang 2012 In models of vascular dementia and Parkinson disease in rats, P. cuspidatum extract and polydatin administered orally resulted in improved cognitive and behavioral measures and increased antioxidant capacity in the relevant tissues.Li 2012, Wang 2011

Clinical data

There are no clinical data regarding the use of P. cuspidatum for antioxidant effect.

Cancer

Animal data

In vitro studies using oral, lung, and prostate cancer cells, and in hepatocarcinoma, glioma, and leukemia have been conducted. Ethanol, methanol and aqueous P. cuspidatum extracts show pro-apoptotic activity and inhibition of angiogenesis, as well as direct cytotoxicity.Hu 2012, Jeong 2010, Lin 2010, Shin 2011 Mice with Ehrlich carcinoma had an increased lifespan when given P. cuspidatum extract.Peng 2013

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data for the use of P. cuspidatum regarding cancer.

Hyperlipidemia

Animal data

Studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s in rodent models of hyperlipidemia showed decreased total cholesterol, as well as decreased triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein.Peng 2013 Oral polydatin from P. cuspidatum showed similar results in rabbits and hamsters.Du 2009, Xing 2009

Clinical data

There are no clinical data regarding the use of P. cuspidatum in hyperlipidemia.

Dosing

Clinical evidence on which to base dosing guidelines is lacking. One study used an oral extract of P. cuspidatum 200 mg over 6 weeks. The preparation was standardized to contain resveratrol 40 mg.Zahedi 2013

Topical application of P. cuspidatum extract has been studied in mice for anti-inflammatory effects.Bralley 2008, Wu 2012

Pregnancy / Lactation

Do not use in pregnancy. Huzhang is listed as an abortifacient in traditional Chinese medicine texts.Peng 2013

Avoid use during lactation; information regarding use during lactation is lacking.

Interactions

The area under the curve of carbamazepine and its active metabolite were increased in rats fed P. cuspidatum, suggesting an increased risk of carbamazepine toxicity.Chi 2012

Adverse Reactions

Clinical evidence on which to base guidance is limited. A study conducted in basketball players over 6 weeks did not report adverse events.Zahedi 2013

Toxicology

Information is limited.Du 2013, Peng 2013 The oral median lethal dose (LD50) of anthraquinones in mice is approximately 9 g/kg body weight. The LD50 of emodin and polydatin is 250 and 1,000 mg/kg, respectively. Parenteral polydatin caused peritonitis in a subacute toxicity test in animals. No hemolysis, agglutination reaction, or systemic anaphylaxis/skin allergy was found in tests conducted in rabbits.Peng 2013

Index Terms

  • Fallopia japonica (Houtt.) Ronse Decr.
  • Pleuropterus cuspidatus (Siebold & Zucc.) Moldenke
  • Pleuropterus zuccarinii (Small) Small
  • Polygonum cuspidatum Siebold & Zucc. var. compactum (Hook. f.) L.H. Bailey
  • Reynoutria japonica Houtt

References

Babu SK, Kumar KV, Subbaraju GV. Estimation of trans-resveratrol in herbal extracts and dosage forms by high-performance thin-layer chromatography. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2005;53(6):691-693.15930785
Ban SH, Kwon YR, Pandit S, Lee YS, Yi HK, Jeon JG. Effects of a bio-assay guided fraction from Polygonum cuspidatum root on the viability, acid production and glucosyltranferase of mutans streptococci. Fitoterapia. 2010;81(1):30-34.19616082
Bralley EE, Greenspan P, Hargrove JL, Wicker L, Hartle DK. Topical anti-inflammatory activity of Polygonum cuspidatum extract in the TPA model of mouse ear inflammation. J Inflamm (Lond). 2008;5:1.18261214
Chen BY, Kuo CH, Liu YC, Ye LY, Chen JH, Shieh CJ. Ultrasonic-assisted extraction of the botanical dietary supplement resveratrol and other constituents of Polygonum cuspidatum. J Nat Prod. 2012;75(10):1810-1813.23075087
Chen H, Tuck T, Ji X, et al. Quality assessment of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) grown on Prince Edward Island as a source of resveratrol. J Agric Food Chem. 2013;61(26):6383-6392.23742076
Chi YC, Lin SP, Hou YC. A new herb-drug interaction of Polygonum cuspidatum, a resveratrol-rich nutraceutical, with carbamazepine in rats. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2012;263(3):315-322.22813711
Du J, Sun LN, Xing WW, et al. Lipid-lowering effects of polydatin from Polygonum cuspidatum in hyperlipidemic hamsters. Phytomedicine. 2009;16(6-7):652-658.19106037
Du QH, Peng C, Zhang H. Polydatin: A review of pharmacology and pharmacokinetics. Pharm Biol. 2013;51(11):1347-1354.23862567
Ghanim H, Sia CL, Abuaysheh S, et al. An antiinflammatory and reactive oxygen species suppressive effects of an extract of Polygonum cuspidatum containing resveratrol. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010;95(9):E1-8.20534755
Han JH, Koh W, Lee HJ, et al. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of ethyl acetate fraction of Polygonum cuspidatum in experimental animals. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2012;34(2):191-195.21711083
Hao D, Ma P, Mu J, et al. De novo characterization of the root transcriptome of a traditional Chinese medicinal plant Polygonum cuspidatum. Sci China Life Sci. 2012;55(5):452-466.22645089
Hu B, An HM, Shen KP, Song HY, Deng S. Polygonum cuspidatum extract induces anoikis in hepatocarcinoma cells associated with generation of reactive oxygen species and downregulation of focal adhesion kinase. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:607675.23008742
Jeong ET, Jin MH, Kim MS, Chang YH, Park SG. Inhibition of melanogenesis by piceid isolated from Polygonum cuspidatum. Arch Pharm Res. 2010;33(9):1331-1338.20945131
Kim J, Kim MY, Leem KH, et al. Key compound groups for the neuroprotective effect of roots of Polygonum cuspidatum on transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in Sprague-Dawley rats. Nat Prod Res. 2010;24(13):1214-1226.20645208
Kirino A, Takasuka Y, Nishi A, et al. Analysis and functionality of major polyphenolic components of Polygonum cuspidatum (itadori). J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2012;58(4):278-286.23132312
Li RP, Wang ZZ, Sun MX, et al. Polydatin protects learning and memory impairments in a rat model of vascular dementia. Phytomedicine. 2012;19(8-9):677-681.22483554
Li F, Zhan Z, Liu F, et al. Polyflavanostilbene A, a new flavanol-fused stilbene glycoside from Polygonum cuspidatum. Org Lett. 2013;15(3):674-677.23320550
Lin HW, Sun MX, Wang YH, et al. Anti-HIV activities of the compounds isolated from Polygonum cuspidatum and Polygonum multiflorum. Planta Med. 2010;76(9):889-892.20112182
Lin YW, Yang FJ, Chen CL, Lee WT, Chen RS. Free radical scavenging activity and antiproliferative potential of Polygonum cuspidatum root extracts. J Nat Med. 2010;64(2):146-152.20082145
Pandit S, Kim HJ, Park SH, Jeon JG. Enhancement of fluoride activity against Streptococcus mutans biofilms by a substance separated from Polygonum cuspidatum. Biofouling. 2012;28(3):279-287.22435782
Peng W, Qin R, Li X, Zhou H. Botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology, and potential application of Polygonum cuspidatum Sieb.et Zucc.: a review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;148(3):729-745.23707210
Piotrowska H, Kucinska M, Murias M. Biological activity of piceatannol: leaving the shadow of resveratrol. Mutat Res. 2012;750(1):60-82.22108298
Polygonum cuspidatum Siebold & Zucc. 2013. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 10 October 2013). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901.
Shen MY, Liu YJ, Don MJ, et al. Combined phytochemistry and chemotaxis assays for identification and mechanistic analysis of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals in Fallopia japonica. PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27480.22087325
Shin JA, Shim JH, Jeon JG, et al. Apoptotic effect of Polygonum cuspidatum in oral cancer cells through the regulation of specificity protein 1. Oral Dis. 2011;17(2):162-170.20659264
Song JH, Kim SK, Chang KW, Han SK, Yi HK, Jeon JG. In vitro inhibitory effects of Polygonum cuspidatum on bacterial viability and virulence factors of Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. Arch Oral Biol. 2006;51(12):1131-1140.16914113
Wang Y, Xu H, Fu Q, Ma R, Xiang J. Protective effect of resveratrol derived from Polygonum cuspidatum and its liposomal form on nigral cells in Parkinsonian rats. J Neurol Sci. 2011;304:29-34.
Wu XB, Luo XQ, Gu SY, Xu JH. The effects of Polygonum cuspidatum extract on wound healing in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012;141(3):934-937.22469768
Xing WW, Wu JZ, Jia M, Du J, Zhang H, Qin LP. Effects of polydatin from Polygonum cuspidatum on lipid profile in hyperlipidemic rabbits. Biomed Pharmacother. 2009;63(7):457-462.18657948
Zahedi HS, Jazayeri S, Ghiasvand R, Djalali M, Eshraghian MR. Effects of polygonum cuspidatum containing resveratrol on inflammation in male professional basketball players. Int J Prev Med. 2013;4(suppl 1):S1-4.23717757
Zhang H, Yu CH, Jiang YP, et al. Protective effects of polydatin from Polygonum cuspidatum against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury in mice. PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e46574.23029551
Zhang H, Zhang QW, Wang L, Zhang XQ, Ye WC, Wang YT. Two new anthraquinone malonylglucosides from Polygonum cuspidatum. Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(14):1323-1327.21995450

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This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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