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White Atractylodes (bai zhu)

What is white atractylodes? Why do we need it?

White atractylodes is one of the most commonly used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. An aromatic herb, the plant is indigenous to China and has a thin, wooden stem and large, serrated leaves. The rhizome is used medicinally.

White atractylodes' active ingredient is a volatile oil consisting of various substances, including atractylon, sesquiterpene lactones, acetylenes and polysaccharides.

White atractylodes has been used to treat physical and mental fatigue, diarrhea, edema, dizziness and vomiting. It has a long lasting diuretic effect, and also has the ability to lower blood sugar levels. In traditional Chinese medicine, white atractylodes is used as a qi tonic, and to support the functions of the kidney, bladder and digestive system.

How much atractylodes should I take?

Many practitioners recommend taking 10-30 drops of an atractylodes extract 2-3 times per day or as needed.

What forms of atractylodes are available?

White atractylodes is available as a tea, powder, extract or decoction.

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

White atractylodes has been given a class I safety rating by the American Herbal Products Association, meaning that it can be consumed safely when taken in appropriate doses. However, because of its diuretic properties, it should not be taken by patients who are dehydrated.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with white atractylodes. As always, make sure to consult with a qualified health care provider before taking atractylodes or any herbal product or dietary supplement.


  • Li L. Practical Traditional Chinese Dermatology. Hong Kong: Hai Feng Publishing Company, 1995.
  • Sionneau P, Dui Y. The Art of Combining Chinese Medicinals. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press, 1997.
  • Tang W, Eisenbrand G. Chinese Drugs of Plant Origin. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1992.
  • Zhu Y. Chinese Materia Medica: Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Applications. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998.
  • Yan W, Fischer W. Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications, 1997.
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