Other Name(s):

Bei Chai Hu, Bupleuri, Bupleurum Chinese, upleurum chinense, Bupleurum exaltatum, Bupleurum falcatum, Bupleurum fruticosum, Bupleurum longifolium, Bupleurum multinerve, Bupleurum octoradiatum, Bupleurum rotundifolium, Bupleurum scorzonerifolium, Buplèvre, Buplèvre Chinois, Buplèvre à Feuilles Rondes, Buplèvre à Feuilles de Scorsonère, Buplèvre à Longues Feuilles, Buplèvre Ligneux, Chai Hu, Chi Hu, Chinese Bupleurum, Chinese Thoroughwax, Hare's Ear Root, Radix Bupleuri, Saiko, Shrubby Hare's-ear, Sickle-leaf Hare's-ear, Thoroughwax.


Bupleurum is a plant. People use the root for medicine.

Bupleurum is used for respiratory infections, including the flu (influenza), swine flu, the common cold, bronchitis, and pneumonia; and symptoms of these infections, including fever and cough.

Some people use bupleurum for digestion problems including indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation.

Women sometimes use it for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and painful periods (dysmenorrhea).

Bupleurum is also used for fatigue, headache, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), trouble sleeping (insomnia), depression, liver disorders, and loss of appetite (anorexia).

Other uses include treatment of cancer, malaria, chest pain (angina), epilepsy, pain, muscle cramps, joint pain (rheumatism), asthma, ulcers, hemorrhoids, and high cholesterol.

Bupleurum is included in many herbal combination products. For example, it is included in a Chinese herbal formula used for treating a blood disorder called thrombocytopenic purpura and in a Japanese herbal formula (Sho-saiko-to, TJ-9, Xiao-chai-hu-tang) used for treating various chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis. Sho-saiko-to is currently being evaluated in a phase II trial at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for use in treating hepatitis C.

Bupleurum is also used in combination with Panax ginseng and licorice to help stimulate adrenal gland function, particularly in patients with a history of long-term use of corticosteroid drugs.

How does it work?

Bupleurum might stimulate the cells of the immune system to work harder. It might also have other effects, but none of these are proven in humans.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Fevers.
  • Flu.
  • The common cold.
  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Liver disorders.
  • Blood disorders.
  • Stimulating the immune system.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bupleurum for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

There isn't enough information to know if bupleurum is safe. However, some side effects have been reported, including increased bowel movements, intestinal gas, and drowsiness. In combination with other herbs, such as in the Japanese herbal formula called Sho-saiko-to, it has caused serious lung and breathing problems.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking bupleurum if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Bupleurum might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using bupleurum.

Bleeding disorders: Chemicals in bupleurum, called saikosaponins, might slow blood clotting. In theory, taking bupleurum might make bleeding disorders worse.

Diabetes: Chemicals in bupleurum, called saikosaponins, might slow blood clotting. Monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use bupleurum. The dose of your diabetes medication may need to be changed.

Surgery: Chemicals in bupleurum called saikosaponins might prolong bleeding. Stop taking saikosaponins at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Chemicals in bupleurum, called saikosaponins, might increase blood sugar. Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. Taking bupleurum along with diabetes medications might interfere with blood sugar control. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Bupleurum might increase the immune system. By increasing the immune system, bupleurum might decrease the effectiveness of medications that are used to decrease the immune system.

Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Chemicals in bupleurum, called saikosaponins, might slow blood clotting. Taking bupleurum along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin; clopidogrel (Plavix); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others); dalteparin (Fragmin); enoxaparin (Lovenox); heparin; warfarin (Coumadin); and others.


The appropriate dose of bupleurum depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for bupleurum. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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