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Elsholtzia (xiang ru)

What is elsholtzia? What is it used for?

Also known as aromatic madder, elsholtzia is a type of aromatic, deciduous shrub found throughout Europe and Asia. The shrub grows between three and six feet high, with lance-shaped leaves and lilac-colored flowers that bloom during the summer.

The leaves produce a mint-like smell when crushed. The plant is harvested in the late summer and early fall when ripe, then dried in the sunshine and cut into pieces for use.

In traditional Chinese medicine, elsholtzia has pungent and warm properties, and is associated with the Lung and Stomach meridians. Its main functions are to resolve dampness, to harmonize the spleen and stomach, and to release edema. Among the conditions it is used to treat are chills, fevers, headaches, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Some practitioners also recommend it in the prevention of kidney stones, and to treat certain urinary disorders.

How much elsholtzia should I take?

The typical dosage of elsholtzia is between 3 and 10 grams, taken as a powder or decocted into water for oral use. The herb should be decocted in water until the decoction is thick.

What forms of elsholtzia are available?

Elsholtzia is available in powder and capsule forms. Powdered elsholtzia can also be decocted in boiling water for a decoction.

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

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions or side-effects associated with elsholtzia. However, elsholtzia should not be used by patients diagnosed with deficiency exterior syndrome with sweating. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking elsholtzia or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Bestmann HJ, Rauscher J, Vostrowsky O, et al. Terpenoids from elsholtzia species. Part 9. The volatile constituents of elsholtzia flava. Planta Med 1997;63(1):88-90.
  • Kharina TG, Kalinkina GI, Dembitsky AD, et al. Essential oil composition and morphological and biological characteristics of elsholtzia ciliata (thumb). Hyl Rastit Resur 1995;31(3):58-64.
  • Shi Z, Liu C, Li R. Effect of a mixture of acanthopanax senticosus and elsholtzia splendens on serum-lipids in patients with hyperlipemia. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1990r;10:155-6, 132.
  • Thappa RK, Agarwal SG, Kapahi BK, et al. Chemosystematics of the Himalayan elsholtzia. J Essent Oil Res 1999;11:97-103.
  • Tucker AO, Maciarello MJ. Volatile oil of elsholtzia stauntonii benth. J Essent Oil Res 1995;7:653-703.
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