Bupleurum is an important herb used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. It is frequently prescribed in combination with other herbs to treat cold, fever, malaria, gastrointestinal disorders and chronic liver diseases.
The major components, saikosaponins, are believed to contribute to bupleurum's medicinal properties. In vitro studies show that Bupleurum has antiviral (4) (7), hepatoprotective (16), anti-inflammatory (17), antiproliferative (11), and chemopreventive (12) (13) properties.
Bupleurum also demonstrated inhibitory effects against allergic asthma in animal studies (10).
Saikosaponins were found to enhance the cytotoxicity of cisplatin against solid tumors (15).
Herbal formulas such as Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Sho-saiko-to), which contain bupleurum as major ingredient, were found effective in treating hepatitis and liver cancers.
However, poor quality control is a major concern with commercial herbal products. A sample of Bupleurum was found contaminated with a nephrotoxic drug, aristolactone (18).