Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More


Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Common Names

  • Bei sha shen
  • Hamabofu
  • American silvertop root

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

There is no scientific evidence to support the traditional uses of glehnia.

Scientists do not know how glehnia works. Very little research has been done with this herb, which is often used in traditional Chinese medicine. A few lab studies in mice show that glehnia has anti-inflammatory properties. It is not known if these effects occur in the human body.

What are the potential uses and benefits?
  • To treat bronchitis and relieve chest congestion

    Glehnia is used to treat bronchitis and chest congestion in traditional Chinese medicine, but these uses have not been tested in clinical trials.
What are the side effects?

Although no adverse reactions have been reported, there are also no studies in humans.

What else do I need to know?

Do Not Take if:

  • You are taking CYP3A4 substrate drugs: Theoretically, glehnia root may increase side effects of these drugs, although clinical relevance is not known.
  • You are undergoing radiation therapy: In theory, a compound in glehnia may cause increased skin sensitivity to light.

For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Glehnia littoralis, Radix Glehniae
Clinical Summary

Derived from the root of the plant, glehnia is used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis and fevers. It is also used in Asia to treat immune-related diseases. Lab studies suggest anti-inflammatory (1) (11) and antitumor properties (3) (12) (13). However, studies in humans have not been conducted.

Both pyranocoumarins as well as furanocoumarins such as imperatorin, psoralen, and bergapten have been indentified in glehnia (11) (14) (15). Theoretically, glehnia may have phototoxic effects or CYP3A4 interactions due to furanocoumarin components. Additional research is necessary to determine the safety and efficacy of this botanical.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Bronchitis
  • Chest congestion
Mechanism of Action

Reports suggest that glehnia root can hemolyze blood cells, stimulate myocardial contractility, and exert antibacterial effects (8). Studies in mice demonstrated analgesic effects with glehnia root extracts (2). An intraperitoneal injection of a glehnia extract inhibited topical edema and reduced inflammation, vascular permeability, cytokine production, and neutrophil-mediated myeloperoxidase activity (1). Anti-inflammatory effects may be due to inhibition of proinflammatory mediators such as NO, prostaglandin E2, TNF, and IL1-beta via suppression of NF-kappaB- and mitogen-activated protein kinase-dependent pathways (9). Imperatorin, a compound isolated from glehnia root, blocks protein expression of inducible NO synthase and COX-2 in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages (11).

Polyacetylenic compounds extracted from glehnia fruit may have antiproliferative activity against human gastric adenocarcinoma, human uterine carcinoma, and murine malignant melanoma cancer cell lines (3).


Due to potential for photosensitivity (15) (16), patients receiving radiation therapy should not consume this herb.

Adverse Reactions

Although no adverse reactions have been reported, there are also no studies in humans.

Herb-Drug Interactions

CYP3A4 substrates: Theoretically, glehnia root may inhibit CYP3A4 in a dose-dependent manner due to furanocoumarins (11) (14) (15). Clinical relevance is not known.

Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. Yoon T, Lee do Y, Lee AY, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of Glehnia littoralis extract in acute and chronic cutaneous inflammation. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2010 Dec;32(4):663-70.
  2. Okuyama E, et al. Analgesic components of glehnia root (Glehnia littoralis). Natural Med 1998;52:491-501.
  3. Nakano Y, Matsunaga H, Saita T, et al. Antiproliferative constituents in Umbelliferae plants II. Screening for polyacetylenes in some Umbelliferae plants, and isolation of panaxynol and falcarindiol from the root of Heracleum moellendorffii. Biol Pharm Bull. 1998 Mar;21(3):257-61.
  4. Miyazawa M, et al. Components of the essential oil from Glehnia littoralis. Flavour Fragrance J 2001;16:215-8.
  5. Kitajima J, et al. Coumarin glycosides of glehnia littoralis root and rhizoma. Chem Pharm Bull 1998:46:1404-7.
  6. Ishikawa T, Sega Y, Kitajima J. Water-soluble constituents of Glehnia littoralis fruit. Chem Pharm Bull 2001;49:584-8.
  7. Kitajima J, et al. New glycosides and furocoumarin from the Glehnia littoralis root and rhizoma. Chem Pharm Bull 1998;46:1939-40.
  8. Huang KC. The Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs, 2nd ed. New York: CRC Press; 1999.
  9. Yoon T, Cheon MS, Lee AY, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of methylene chloride fraction from Glehnia littoralis extract via suppression of NF-kappa B and mitogen-activated protein kinase activity. J Pharmacol Sci. 2010 Jan;112(1):46-55.
  10. Xu Y, Gu X, Yuan Z. Lignan and neolignan glycosides from the roots of Glehnia littoralis. Planta Med. 2010 Oct;76(15):1706-9.
  11. Huang GJ, Deng JS, Liao JC, et al. Inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 participate in anti-inflammatory activity of imperatorin from Glehnia littoralis.J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Feb 22;60(7):1673-81.
  12. de la Cruz JF, Vergara EJ, Cho Y, et al. Glehnia littoralis Root Extract Induces G0/G1 Phase Cell Cycle Arrest in the MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cell Line. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16(18):8113-8117.
  13. Wu J, Gao W, Song Z, et al. Anticancer activity of polysaccharide from Glehnia littoralis on human lung cancer cell line A549. Int J Biol Macromol. Jan 2018;106:464-472.
  14. Lee JW, Lee C, Jin Q, et al. Pyranocoumarins from Glehnia littoralis inhibit the LPS-induced NO production in macrophage RAW 264.7 cells. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. Jun 15 2014;24(12):2717-2719.
  15. Masuda T, Takasugi M, Anetai M. Psoralen and other linear furanocoumarins as phytoalexins in Glehnia littoralis. Phytochemistry. 1998;47(1):13-16.
  16. Ishikawa A, Kuma T, Sasaki H, et al. Constitutive expression of bergaptol O-methyltransferase in Glehnia littoralis cell cultures. Plant Cell Rep. Feb 2009;28(2):257-265.
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