Chai Hu, Hare’s ear root, Thorowax root, Saiko
How It Works
Although bupleurum is used along with other herbs in traditional formulas to treat many conditions, studies in humans are lacking.
Bupleurum is an important herb used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. It is frequently prescribed in combination with other herbs to treat colds, fever, digestive disorders, chronic liver diseases, and depression symptoms. Herbal formulas such as Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Sho-saiko-to) and Xiao Yao San contain bupleurum as a major ingredient.
Compounds called saikosaponins in bupleurum have been identified as responsible for the plant’s medicinal activities. However, most studies on bupleurum have only been performed in the lab and human data are lacking. In addition, excess doses have been linked to a few cases of adverse effects.
NOTE: The following uses and descriptions of effectiveness apply to bupleurum only. Please see our monograph on Sho-saiko-to for information regarding the effectiveness of bupleurum in combination with other herbs.
- To treat liver diseases, including hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver
Although bupleurum is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat liver diseases, human data are lacking.
- To treat the common cold
Bupleurum may have antiviral activity, but clinical trials have not been conducted.
- As a fever reducer
Although bupleurum is used in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce fever, there are no clinical data to back this claim.
- To treat infections
Bupleurum may have antibacterial and antiviral activity, but human studies are lacking.
- To reduce inflammation
Laboratory studies show that components of bupleurum interfere with the processes that cause inflammation. Human studies are needed.
- To reduce depression symptoms
The evidence on Bupleurum chinense for depression is considered low quality.
Do Not Take If
- You are taking drugs that are substrates of cytochrome P450 2C9: Lab studies suggest bupleurum extracts may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs. Clinical relevance has yet to be determined. Patients should check with their treating physician.
- You are taking drugs that are substrates of cytochrome P450 2E1, 2D6, and 3A4: Animal studies suggest that bupleurum can induce CYP2E1, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 enzymes, but that herb-drug interactions are more likely at higher doses. Patients should check with their treating physician.
There have been a few case reports of liver damage with excess doses of bupleurum.