Bai Zhi – Angelica dahurica root

Nature: acrid, warm

Enters: Lung, Stomach

Actions: Eliminates wind-cold; dries dampness; relieves swelling and drains pus; alleviates pain by eliminating wind; conducts to the Yangming channels; opens the nasal passages.

• Wind-cold: frontal headache, nasal congestion, supraorbital pain, toothache, or any other problem due to wind invading the Yangming channels in the head (can be used for heat syndromes when appropriately combined – e.g. for frontal headache due to wind-heat when combined with Shi gao).
• Headache due to sinusitis – key herb (not for headaches due to blood deficiency).
• Carbuncles and surface sores: dissipates swelling before there is pus or drains the pus after it has developed.
• Cold and damp in the lower Jiao: leukorrhea (combined appropriately, can be used for damp-heat also).
• Prevention of colds: increases IgA, IgM in the nose (by smelling it – usually hung in a container around the neck).
• Used in prevention of corneal ulcers secondary to burns.
• Used topically for freckles, maybe acne, hyperpigmentation, other blemishes.
• Liu: the ultimate herb for pus.
• A powder of Bai zhi and Bing pian, when inhaled through the nose, has been effective in treating headache, toothache, trigeminal neuralgia.
HF: A San Du, scattering toxin medicinal, typically found in Gu Zheng (Gu parasites) formulas.
Li Dong Yuan: Upbears Yang Qi.
Eric Brand: We now think of Bai Zhi as being an exterior-resolving agent that is suitable for wind-cold patterns, especially cases that are characterized by sinus congestion and headache. In truth, Bai Zhi’s actions are quite diverse, and it is an important medicinal for both internal and external applications (it relieves itching and is often featured in topical formulas for itching). Its actions of relieving headache and sinus congestion go far beyond the context of external contraction, which is often expressed by the action phrase “dispels wind and relieves pain.” It is indicated for yang ming channel headache, eyebrow bone pain, “head wind” headache, toothache, and deep-source nasal congestion.
Most practitioners remember Bai Zhi’s actions to resolve the exterior, treat headache, and open the nose. However, all too often practitioners forget that Bai Zhi disperses swelling and expels pus; here, it is used for painful swollen sores and welling-abscesses. To disperse swelling before the rupturing stage, combine it with heat-clearing toxin-resolving medicinals such as Jin Yin Hua (Lonicerae Flos) and Tian Hua Fen (Trichosanthis Radix). After pus has formed, combine it with supplementing medicinals such as Ren Shen (Ginseng Radix), Huang Qi (Astragali Radix), and Dang Gui (Angelicae Sinensis Radix) to expel pus.
Bai Zhi is aromatic and reaches upward, so it is often used to treat disorders affecting the head (headache, sinus congestion, etc). However, it is also a key medicinal that should not be overlooked for treating vaginal discharge. Bai Zhi is acrid, warm, aromatic and drying, so it is particularly appropriate for cold-damp patterns of vaginal discharge. To treat copious white vaginal discharge due to cold-damp pouring downwards, combine it with medicinals to warm yang, dry dampness, and fortify the spleen, such as Lu Jiao Shuang (Cervi Cornu Degelatinatum), Bai Zhu (Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizoma), and Shan Yao (Dioscoreae Rhizoma). Although it is warm in nature, it can also be used for yellow or reddish vaginal discharge due to damp-heat when combined with medicinals such as Che Qian Zi (Plantaginis Semen) and Huang Bai (Phellodendri Cortex).
If we look at the indications and historical applications of Bai Zhi, it is obvious that it is an important medicinal that transcends many normal limits of use. It is warm and acrid, so we often combine it with other warm, acrid agents to treat cold patterns. However, we also use it in conjunction with cold herbs to treat hot conditions characterized by swelling and pus, as well as hot patterns of vaginal discharge. It is famous for conditions affecting the head and upper body, but it is also an important medicinal for vaginal discharge and intestinal wind in the lower body. Such paradoxical and wide-ranging indications are very interesting and unusual. If one searches the Chinese formula literature based on Bai Zhi, one will discover that a stunning number of formulas based on Bai Zhi exist (over 30 formulas share the name Bai Zhi San alone). These formulas span a wide range of internal and external conditions and really illustrate its profound spectrum of use.
Bai Zhi is differentiated into two primary sources: Angelica dahuricae (Fisch.) Benth. Et Hook. and Angelica dahurica var. formosana (Boiss.) Yuan et Shan. The latter, called Hang Bai Zhi, is characterized by the presence of square rings that can be seen upon the transverse cross section. The product pictured above is Chuan Bai Zhi, which only has round rings. Hang Bai Zhi has some round and some square rings, whereas Chuan Bai Zhi only has round rings. Hang Bai Zhi is considered to be slightly superior but Chuan Bai Zhi is more abundant on the market (according to some sources, Chuan Bai Zhi accounts for about 70% of the market supply). Both are acceptable forms.
Weng Weiliang, et. al.:
• Anti-bacterial effect: Escherichia coli, Shigella dysenteriae, Proteus vulgaris, Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Vibrio cholerae, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis var. hominis were found to be susceptible to the decoction of Angelica Dahurica.
• Use in ophthalmology: A burn ointment, which included ground Radix A. duhurica has been effective in promoting healing and avoiding deleterious sequelae from corneal ulcers secondary to flash burns.
• Use in otolaryngology: A powder made up of ground Radix A. dahurica and Borneol, when inhaled through the nostrils, has been effective for headache and toothache. It also proved to be of use in trigeminal neuralgia.

Dose: 3-9g

20 comments on “Bai Zhi – Angelica dahurica root

  1. Lonny says:

    Hi there.

    I’m studying natural medicine (Wild Rose College) and had a question for you. I don’t know if you can answer it, but I’m going to ask anyway. We know that C. yanhusuo and A. dahuricae has clinical value for treating mild to moderate pain. As far as the exact mechanism is concerned it appears that the coumarins and volatile oil of Angelica dahurica raised the plasma concentration of dl-THP (in Corydalis) prominently. Could Angelica sinensis be used instead or would its pharmacology be too different?


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