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Scirpus (san leng)

What is scirpus? What is it used for?

Scirpus is a member of the sedge family, an aquatic, grass-like plant that grows in wetlands and moist soil. It is also known as the bur reed, sparganium or grass weed. Approximately 200 varieties of scirpus exist in the world, some of which can reach a height of eight feet or more.

The plant's rhizomes are harvested in the autumn and winter, dried in the sun, and used in a variety of herbal remedies. In addition to its medicinal uses, scirpus is often employed by environmentalists to reduce soil erosion and protect wildlife.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, scirpus is neutral and bitter, and works with the Spleen and Liver meridians. It has two important functions: 1. To remove blood stagnation; 2. To stop pain and promote the flow of qi.

Scirpus stimulates menstrual flow and promotes the production of milk. It invigorates the blood, reduces pain following childbirth and treats abdominal masses. Animal studies have found that scirpus can inhibit the grown of cancerous tumors in mice, but these tests have yet to be conducted on humans.

How much scirpus should I take?

The recommended dosage of scirpus is 3-9 grams, placed in boiling water and drunk as a decoction.

What forms of scirpus are available?

Dried slices of scirpus rhizome are readily available at most Asian markets and specialty stores. Scirpus extracts and powders may also be available.

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

Because scirpus stimulates menstrual flow, it should not be used by women who or pregnant, or during periods of heavy menstruation. At this time, there are no known drug interactions with scirpus. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking scirpus or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


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  • Lewis MA, Weber DE, Stanley RS, et al. The relevance of rooted vascular plants as indicators of estuarine sediment quality. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol Jan 2001;40(1):25-34.
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