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Coptis Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 15, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Coptis Root


Coptis Root is an herb that consists of the rhizome of Coptis chinensis. Coptis plants are cultivated mainly in the provinces of Hubei, Sichuan and Yunnan in China. Coptis Root is collected in the autumn and then dried under the sun after it is cleaned of rootlets and earth.

The Coptis species, the source of the Coptis Root, are perpetual herbs with stalks that are long and that shoots up directly from the ground. It has lobed and intricately dissected leaves and tiny greenish-white flowers. The rhizomes are brownish on the outside and either orange or yellow on the inside.

History and Origin

Coptis is mostly found in the eastern region of Asia and is a relative of goldenseal, a North American herb. During the 1700s and 1800s in North America, Coptis Root was known as the “King of the Herbs”. It was the Native American Indians who taught the early settlers the use of Coptis Root for the treatment of canker sores, poor digestion, mouth sores, and infections. The Mohawk Indians also used Coptis Root in combination with the sap of white ash for the treatment of deafness. Since the demand for Coptis Root was great, its supply became scarce, which led the users to turn to Goldenseal as a replacement.

Today, the supplies for Coptis Root are plentiful and are often used as a substitute for goldenseal. Both goldenseal and Coptis Root have berberine that has been proven to help battle certain kinds of fungi, bacteria, and help advance healing.

Ancient Uses

Most traditional Chinese herbalists use Coptis Root in treating diarrhea, bacterial infections, gastrointestinal concerns, and hypertension. It was also used in protecting and keeping the gallbladder healthy. The Native American Indians used Coptis Root for the treatment of infections, canker sores, and indigestions. It was also used to treat ear infections and even deafness.

Modern Uses

Coptis Root helps increase the flow of blood in the body and promotes having a healthy liver. It is also used as a laxative and for the relief of pains and inflammations. Coptis Root is also effective in treating digestive dysfunction, dysentery, disorientation, and high fever, as well as insomnia, inflammation of the mouth, ear infections, irritability, and palpitations of the heart.

Coptis Root is also helpful in treating basal cell carcinoma, liver cancer, eye disorders, parasitic infections, and tuberculosis. Coptis Root is able to kill the organisms that cause trichmoniasis and giardiasis infections of the urinary tract and osteomyelitis, a kind of bone infection of the fingers.

Side Effects

Coptis Root is not advisable to be used by pregnant and lactating mothers. In order to avoid any untoward results, strict attention and focus should be given to its dosage. Coptis Root is enormously bitter and regular use may cause vomiting and nausea. Therefore, it should not be taken in large amounts for a long period of time.
Coptis Root may interfere with the absorption of some antibiotics due to its berberine content. It can also lower blood sugar in people with diabetes, irritate the stomach, or cause numbness and tingling sensations. However, the side-effects are minor and are only temporary.

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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