Du Huo (Radix Angelicae Pubescentis or Pubescent Angelica Root)

Du Huo also known as Radix Angelicae Pubescentis or Pubescent Angelica Root is the root of Angelica pubescens, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Umbelliferae. It is a relatively practical and antirheumatic Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

This plant often grows in moist habitats in hills or low mountains. It is native to China and Japan. It is called shishiudo in Japan, which is often mistaken for udo. The young stems and leaves are edible.

In the early spring and late autumn of each year, people gather the roots of Angelica pubescens, remove their fibrous roots and impurities, wash them with water, cut them into thin slices, bake them to semi-dry, stack them for 2-3 days, until they are softened, dry them again, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Du Huo contains columbianadin, columbianetin, columbianetin acetate, β-D-glucosyl-columbia, columbianin, columbianetin propionate, dihydrocolumbianadin, bergapten, bergaptol, psoralen, xanthotoxin, pabulenol, Imperatorin, oxypeucedanin, isoimperatorin, cnidilin, byak-angelicin, neobyakangelicol, isopimpinellin, scopoletin, anpubesol, isoangelol, ulopterol, osthenol, angelicin, angelol, daucosterol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, linoleic acid, stearic acid, ferulic acid, isoferulic acid, caffeic acid, adenosine, uridine, sucrose, chlorogenic acid, and volatile oils.

Generally, the solid and oily Du Huo with rich aromatic fragrance is the best.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Du Huo is slightly warm, with a pungent and bitter taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on pathological changes of the kidney and bladder meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Du Huo is often used to expel wind-dampness, relieve exterior symptoms, and treat rheumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, sciatica, fibrositis, scapulohumeral periarthritis, stroke, neuralgia, hemiplegia, cold pain in the waist and knees, chronic headache, toothache, chronic tracheitis, fall injury, and insomnia.

There are about 100 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang, and Tian Ma Wan.

Health benefits of Du Huo

  • Anti-inflammation and inhibiting the swelling of the rat’s feet caused by egg white.
  • Anti-oxidation, enhancing the activity of superoxide dismutase, reducing the content of malondialdehyde, and inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Inhibiting platelet aggregation, preventing thrombosis and atherosclerosis.
  • Dilating blood vessels, and lowering blood pressure transiently.
  • Improving the learning and memory ability of aging mice, delaying brain aging, and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Expelling wind-dampness, alleviating the muscle soreness, low back and knee pain, leg and foot joint pain caused by wind-cold-dampness.
  • Treating cold arthralgia, hemiplegia, cold pain in the waist and knees, limb weakness and numbness, and joint inflexibility complicated with kidney deficiency.
  • Relieving a sensation of heaviness of the head, headache, and body pain caused by wind-cold and wind-cold complicated with dampness.
  • Relieving the shaoyin headache caused by the invasion of wind pathogen into the kidney Meridian.
  • The topical application of its decoction can relieve skin itching.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of human gastric cancer cell lines MKN-45, BGC-823, human lung adenocarcinoma cell line A549, human breast cancer cell line MCF-7, and human colon cancer cell line LOVO.
  • Inhibiting Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Gram-positive bacteria, Proteus, and Staphylococcus aureus.
  • Studies have found that its volatile oil can reduce the number of writhing in mice caused by acetic acid. This confirms that it has an analgesic effect.

Du Huo is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Fu Zi (Radix Aconiti Lateralis Preparata), Chuan Wu (Radix Aconiti), and Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae) treat arthralgia caused by wind-cold-dampness.
  • It with Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), and Niu Xi (Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae) can relieve muscle soreness, low back pain, and limb pain caused by wind-cold-dampness.
  • It with Sang Bai Pi (Cortex Mori), Du Zhong (Eucommia Bark), and Ren Shen (Radix Ginseng) can treat cold arthralgia, hemiplegia, cold pain in the waist and knees, limb weakness and numbness, and joint inflexibility complicated with kidney deficiency.
  • It with Qiang Huo (Notopterygium Root), Gao Ben (Rhizoma Ligustici), and Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae) can relieve headache and body pain caused by wind-cold complicated with dampness.
  • It with Xi Xin (Asarum) and Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong) can treat shaoyin headache caused by wind disturbing the kidney meridian.

Side effects of Du Huo

A small percentage of people taking it may dizziness, headache, numbness of the tongue, nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, palpitations, or chest tightness.

Overdose of it may cause dizziness, headache, irritability, delirium, mydriasis, tonic spasms, convulsions, coma, or death.

Precautions of Du Huo

  • The dosage of Du Huo should be controlled at 3-9g.
  • It can be made into decoction, pills, medicinal liquors, or lotions.
  • People with the syndrome of yin deficiency and blood dryness should not take it.
  • People with a deficiency of qi and blood should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.