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Xanthium Sibericum Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 7, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Xanthium Sibericum Root

Poison to one man becomes medicine to another man, to paraphrase an old saying. One such example is the common cocklebur plant, which is also known by its Latin name of Xanthium Sibericum and its Chinese name of Can Er Zi.

While many individuals will consider the common cocklebur as a pest because of its propensity to become stuck on clothing, many others use it for medicinal purposes. So, before you start ranting about how cockleburs ruin your clothes and your pet’s fur, read on and find out how these Velcro-like plants can make life easier for you and your family.

Origin and History

The common cocklebur is characterized by hundreds of one-inch burs shaped like footballs, which are covered with stiff, hooked and small spines. These spines allow the cocklebur plant to hook unto pants, socks, and shoes as well as animal fur so tenaciously that fibers and fur must be cut to dislodge the burs.
Such property has enabled the cocklebur plant to hitchhike all over the world, thus, gaining for it both a famous and infamous reputation depending on which side – poison or medicine – you are on. The plant genus is native to eastern Asia and the Americas but can now be found virtually all over the world in all kinds of environment that such a tenacious plant can survive where others die.

Ancient and Modern Uses

In traditional Chinese medicine, the cocklebur is a medicinal plant with the known properties of being bitter, acrid, warm and sweet but also being toxic. As such, certain precautions must be taken to minimize the risk of adverse side effects and to maximize the benefits of treatment.

It is associated with the lung meridian, which explains its use for respiratory disorders and diseases in Chinese culture. Cocklebur herbal preparations are used to provide relief for obstructions in the nasal passages by promoting thick nasal discharges. As a result, most individuals are also relieved of their sinus Headaches and respiratory Allergies. Administration is done through oral forms.

But lung-related disorders are not the only diseases that cockleburs are known for. Herbal preparation from the plant can also be used to relieve slight to moderate itching on the skin caused by certain allergies as well as to relieve dampness on the muscles. It can also be used to treat eczema in certain individuals showing no signs of irritation against the herb. In these cases, the preparation comes in the form of a topical application directly applied on the skin.

In Western folk medicine, cockleburs are also used to relieve muscle pains and aches. People with rheumatoid arthritis sing the praises of the xanthium in providing for almost immediate relief against joint pain.

Xanthium is often used with herbs like Magnolia denudate and Angelica Root. The beneficial properties of these herbs then complement each other for better efficacy.

Side Effects and Precautions

As previously mentioned, xanthium is considered to be toxic but its side effects can be avoided. If you have qi and blood deficiencies, you must not take any preparations from cocklebur. This is also true for pregnant women.

Recommended dosage is 3 to 9 grams. Signs of overdose include abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. We always suggest consultations with healthcare professionals and expert herbalists before taking xanthium and other kinds of medicinal herbs.

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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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