Bottom Line: There is no scientific evidence to support the traditional uses of Glehnia.
Scientists do not know how glehnia works. Very little laboratory research has been done with this herb, which is often used in traditional Chinese medicine. Some lab studies show that glehnia stimulates the heart’s ability to contract, has antibacterial effects, and works as a topical pain killer in mice. It is not known if these effects occur in the human body.
Derived from the root of the plant, glehnia is used in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis and whooping cough. It is also used in Asia to treat immune-related diseases. Studies indicate anti-inflammatory (1)(11) and antitumor properties (3). Clinical trials have not been conducted.
Theoretically, glehnia may have additive effects with anticoagulant and antiplatelet agents due to the coumarin component. Additional research is necessary to determine the safety and efficacy of this botanical.
It has been reported that glehnia root can hemolyze blood cells, stimulate myocardial contractility, and exert antibacterial effects (8). Studies in mice demonstrated analgesic effects of glehnia root extracts (2); and intraperitoneal injection of a glehnia extract was found to inhibit topical edema and substantially reduced inflammatory damage, vascular permeability, cytokine production, and neutrophil-mediated myeloperoxidase activity (1). The anti-inflammatory properties of glehnia may be due to the inhibition of proinflammatory mediators, such as nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2, tumor necrosis factor, and interleukin 1-beta, via suppression of NF-kappaB- and mitogen-activated protein kinases-dependent pathways (9). Imperatorin, a compound isolated from glehnia roots, blocks the protein expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages significantly (11).
Polyacetylenic compounds extracted from glehnia fruit may have antiproliferative activity against human gastric adenocarcinoma, (MK-1), human uterine carcinoma (HeLa), and murine malignant melanoma (B16F10) cancer cell lines (3).