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Saturday, 13 March 2010

Wuzhualong – An Efficient Herb of South China

Tiejun Tang


Wuzhualong, also called Wuzhimaotao (Ficus simplicissima Lour), is a native herb of south China, which attribute to Ficus of Moroideae. It has been called Southern Huangqi, Local Huangqi and Five Fingers Ficus. It is mild in nature, pungent and sweet in taste. Its channel tropism is Spleen, Lung and Liver. It has many functions including benefiting Qi and invigorating deficiency; smoothing and releasing Qi stagnation; strengthening tendons and dredging meridians; invigorating Spleen and expelling dampness; expelling phlegm and releasing cough. This herb has been widely used in the southern China, especially in the Canton province. My PhD tutor Professor Tietao Deng, often selects this herb in his clinical practice. It can be used to treat many diseases if combined with various other herbs. Dr. Deng’s clinical experience about this herb, are as follows:

1. To benefit Qi and invigorating deficiency its functions are similar to Huangqi

This herb has a function of invigorating Qi, especially to benefit the Qi of Spleen and Lung. This function is similar to Huangqi so it has been called Southern Huangqi. It can invigorate Qi without causing too much Fire. It is less heating than Huangqi, so it is more suitable for patients of southern China living in a tropical climate. Wuzhualong has often been used to treat symptoms that are due to Spleen and Lung Qi deficiency, such as tiredness, shortness of breath, palpitations, poor appetite, abdominal distension, and loose stools. It is often combined with Dangshen, Baizhu and Fuling. If necessary, it can be combined with Huangqi to increase the function of invigorating Qi.

2. To expel Bi Syndrome, dredging meridians, and a combined purging and nourishing function

In southern China there is more incidents of Bi Syndrome due to the damp weather. This syndrome is mainly due to Wind, Cold and Dampness. In some case it is due to Damp-Heat. It causes joint and muscle pain. Professor Deng often uses Wuzhualong to treat Bi Syndrome. Not only does this herb have a tonic function but the ability to expel Wind-Damp and dredge meridians. It has a combined purging and nourishing function in one herb. It can also be combined with other herbs such as Duhuo, Qinghuo, Sangjisheng, Kuangjinteng, Luoshiteng, Xiqiancao, Weilingxian, etc.

3. Invigorating Spleen and Lung, expel phlegm and relieve cough

Chinese Medicine believes “Spleen is the source of phlegm and the Lung is a container of the phlegm”. The patient suffers from Spleen and Lung Qi deficiency must get cough and/or phlegm. Wuzhualong can be used to treat any cough with or without phlegm, and any phlegm with or without cough. In the case of a severe cough, it can combined with Baibu, Xingren, Zhiyuan; in the case of profuse phlegm, it can combine with Banxia, Qianhu and Jiegeng; for Lung Yin deficiency it can combined with Maimendong, Beishashen, Baihe; for cough with superficial syndrome it can combined with Sangye, Jinyinhua and Lianqiao.

4. Promoting urination to expel oedema; regulating menstruation and promoting breast milk secretion

Wuzhualong can also be used to treat oedema through promoting urination. It is more suitable for the oedema due to Spleen deficiency. In this condition it can be combined with Zexie, Fulingpi, and Zhuling; for irregular menstruation it can be combined with Danggui, Xiangfu, Nvzhengzi and Hanliancao; for scanty breast milk after delivery it can combined with herbs such as Wangbuliuxing, Lulutong, Tongcao and Yimucao, etc.

Besides the use of Wuzhualong as a medicine, it can also be used in food therapy. Many Cantonese boil the herb with pork or chicken soup. It has an effect of strengthening the body, expelling Dampness and dredging the Meridians. It can build immune function and prevent disease from occurring. The health wine that is made from Wuzhualong, has become more and more popular in recent years.

Why this herb has such effective functions? The Medicinal Chemistry research showed Wuzhualong mainly containing psoralen, bergapten, aminophenol, glucide, sterol, and coumarin[1]. The pharmacology research shows that this herb has antibacterial, antiviral, and anticoagulant properties, inhibits cancer and regulates the immune system. Some researchers used Cyclophosphamide to inhibit the immune function of mice. They find Wuzhualong can increase the carbon particle clearance index, increasing the thymus and spleen index and raising hemolysin level. The results indicated that Wuzhualong has an effect of improving the immune system [2].

The weather of the United Kingdom is much different from southern China. In general I’ve observed that most British people have a hot constitution because of dietary or genetic reasons. In my opinion Wuzhualong may have a better effect than Huangqi for invigorating Qi. It is also a good choice for dredging meridians, expelling Bi Syndrome and phlegm, as well as releasing cough. If the herb Wuzhualong interests you, have a try.

Reference
1. Jiang Bin, et al. (2005) ‘The Chemical component research on Wuzhimaotao’. Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs. 36, (8), p. 1141-1142.
2. Liu Chunling, et al. (2004). ‘An experimental study on Wuzhimaotao’s effect of immune function of mice.’ Journal of Chinese Medicinal Materials 27, (5), p.367-368.

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