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Carpesium (he shi)

What is carpesium? What is it used for?

Carpesium is a perennial plant of the compositae family. It is grown from southern Europe to eastern Asia, particularly China, Japan and Korea. Carpesium grows to about one meter in height, usually in land that has most soil, with little or no shade. The seeds are used medicinally.

Carpesium seeds are small (3-4 millimeters in length) and yellow-brown or dark brown in color, with ridges along the edges. The seeds have a mild odor, and are bitter and pungent in flavor. Carpesium seeds are used to kill intestinal parasites such as roundworms or pinworms, and to treat abdominal pain caused by enteritis or malnutrition.

Other parts of the plant are used for different purposes. The entire plant can be ground up and used as a laxative or to induce vomiting, while carpesium juice (taken from the plant's stems) can treat sore throat and insect bites.

How much carpesium should I take?

The standard dosage of carpesium is 3-10 grams, which should be prepared in a decoction for oral administration. Some herbalists recommend it be ground into a powder and combined with soup when being administered. It is sometimes used in conjunction with betel nuts to enhance its anti-parisitic effects.

What forms of carpesium are available?

In addition to raw or dried seeds, carpesium can be found in pill and powder form.

What can happen if I take too much carpesium? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

As of this writing, there are no known adverse effects or drug interactions with carpesium. As always, make sure to consult with a qualified health care practitioner before taking carpesium or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Chen J, Chen C. Some herbal textual comments on tianmingjing (carpesium abrotanoides L). Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi Feb 1991;16(2):67-9, 125. Chinese.
  • Kim EJ, Jin HK, Kim YK, et al. Suppression by a sesquiterpene lactone from carpesium divaricatum of inducible nitric oxide synthase by inhibiting nuclear factor-kB activation. Biochemical Pharmacology 2001;61:903-910.
  • Yang C, Shi YP, Jia ZJ. Sesquiterpene lactone glycosides, eudesmanolides, and other constituents from carpesium macrocephalum. Planta Med Jul 2002;68(7):626-30.
  • Yang C, Zhu QX, Zhang Q, et al. Eudesmanolides, aromatic derivatives, and other constituents from carpesium cernuum. Pharmazie Oct 2001;56(10):825-7.
  • Zee OP, Kim DK, Lee KR. Thymol derivatives from carpesium divaricatum. Arch Pharm Res Oct 1998;21(5):618-20.
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