Atractylodes macrocephala known in China as Bai Zhu Root is known by a number of different names such as Chinese Thistle Daisy, Baizhu, Bái Shù, Byaki-Jutsu, Cang Zhu, Cangzhu, Chang Zhe, Jutsu, Paekch’ul, Rhizome d’Atractylode, So-Jutsu, Big-Headed Atractylodes, White Atractylodes & White Atractylodis.
Bai Zhu is a perennial herbaceous plant and a native of China. It grows between to around 80 centimetres in height. Its Stems are woody, erect and branching in upper part. The leaves are alternate, tri-lobed and elliptical with serrated margins and spines and surprisingly bright green in colour. The large, thistle like, reddish-purple flowers present at the end of the stems, and have a purple-red corolla. The gnarly roots are dark brown to clack on the outside, creamy white on the inside and are very pleasantly aromatic.
Traditional Uses for Bai Zhu Root:-
The root has a very pleasant aroma but a bitter taste which is a clue to its tradititional Chinese medicinal use which is as a digestive and tonic for the liver and a stress reducer. It is anti bacterial so an infusion of the root may be used to wash and clean wounds.
The term ‘zhu’ to describe this Chinese herb was first recorded in the ancient ‘Shennong Bencao Jing’ circa. 100 A.D. ‘bai’ means ‘white’ and ‘zhu’ means ‘bitter and warm’,it was used in Chinese herbal formulas to remove ‘damp’ from the body. Traditional practitioners still prescribe Bai Zhu today in formulas such as the Wuling San or Hoelen Five Formula, where its mixed with wild oats, cinnamon twigs, polyporos fungus and water plantain to warm the Yang and promote transformation of the Qi.