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Atractylodes lancea

Atractylodes lancea 


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Lance-leaved Atractylodes, Cang zhu, Cangzhu, Mao cang zhu  Nan cang zhu, Southern tsangshu.


Atractylodes lancea is a common medicinal plant used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and in Japanese Kampo practices for a variety of complaints but primarily as a general tonic and digestive aid.  It is currently being investigated in China as a potential drug candidate.

A. lancea is a flowering perennial plant which blooms in late summer through early fall.  It has lance-like leaves and produces seeds in late summer through the end of the growing season and grows to measure 30–50cm in height.

Origin / Habitat

A. lancea is a dioecious plant thought to be native to Asia and now cultivated globally.  The successful cultivation of the plant requires adequate precipitation with moist, well-drained soil.  It is found in wastelands and woodlands but does require sunlight, either direct or semi-shaded.

Chemical Constituents

A.  lancea is rich in a volatile oil, making up 3.5-7% of the dried rhizome, including atractylodin, β-eudesmol, hinesol, elemol, atractylone, and β-selinene; sesquiterpenoid glycosides include atractyloside A 14-O-.BETA.-D-fructofuranoside, (1S,4S,5S,7R,10S)-10,11,14-trihydroxyguai-3-one 11-O-.BETA.-D-glucopyranoside, (5R,7R,10S)-isopterocarpolone. BETA.-D-glucopyranoside, cis-atractyloside I, (2R,3R,5R,7R,10S)-atractyloside G 2-O-.BETA.-D-glucopyranoside, and (2E,8E)-2,8-decadiene-4,6-diyne-1,10-diol 1-O-.BETA.-D-glucopyranoside. Also included are atractylenolide II, phi-taraxasteryl acetate, taraxerol acetate, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, atractylenolide III, atractylenolide IV, daucosterol, and stigmasterol 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside. Also a prenylated dihydrobenzofuran called trans-2-hydroxyisoxypropyl-3-hydroxy-7-isopentene-2,3-dihydrobenzofuran-5-carboxylic acid.[1],[2],[3]

Plant Part Used

Root, rhizome

Medicinal Uses


Digestive tonic


Appetite stimulant


Immune imbalances

Blood sugar regulation

Most Frequently Reported Uses

Digestive tonic


Dosage Range 

As a decoction: Use 5-10gm of dried rhizome per cup (150mL) water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. The strain while hot and drink 1-3 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

No documentation

Standardized to

No standardization known.



A. lancea species are used in Traditional Chinese and Kampo medicines. The most widely used species is Atractylodes macrocephala known in Chinese as baizhu. Less frequently used is A. lancea (cangzhu) or substitutes such as A. chinensis, A. japonicum, or A. ovata.

Today, the main functions in Chinese medicine for both baizhu and cangzhu are the ability to overcome moisture accumulation (damp impediment) and to promote digestion (disperse food). Cangzhu and baizhu both fortify the spleen and dry dampness; however, cangzhu is aromatic, bitter, and warm and has a dry and harsh nature. Other uses of Cangzhu is that it upbears yang, dissipates depression, and dries dampness. Cangzhu also has a stronger upbearing and dissipating action than baizhu. The ability of cangzhu to fortify the spleen, supplement qi, and engender blood, however, is weaker than baizhu.

In Western medicine, A. lancea is used in gastric disorders, and in particular by improving delay in gastric emptying.[4] Laboratory animal testing found that oral administration of essential oils extracted from A. lancea for 7 days improved gastric emptying by increasing levels the gastric hormones motilin (MTL) and gastrin (GAS) and decreasing the levels of somatostatin (SS) and CRF (corticotropin-releasing factor).[5] Also, laboratory studies have found that the compound arabino-3,6-galactan found in the root of A. lancea modulates intestinal immunity.[6],[7]

Abnormal angiogenesis is implicated in various diseases including cancer and diabetic retinopathy. The compound beta-Eudesmol found in A. lancea rhizome has a desensitizing channel blocking action to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, anti-angiogenic action in vascular endothelium, and neuronal differentiation actions. [8],[9] Also, the prenylated dihydrobenzofuran compound named trans-2-hydroxyisoxypropyl-3-hydroxy-7-isopentene-2,3-dihydrobenzofuran-5-carboxylic acid has been reported to have cytotoxic properties in vitro against cancer cell lines HCT-116 and MKN-45.[10] Further studies may find Atractylodes useful in the management of angiogenic diseases, including diabetic complications such as retinopathy and nephropathy, and also in cancer.

A case report of 32 patients with senile obesity or overweight with IGT found that in those treated with Atractylodes decoction vs. control, the body weight, waist circumference, hip circumference and waist-to-hip ration, glucose tolerance, fasting serum insulin and blood lipids improved significantly (P < 0.05 or P < 0.01). [11]

A laboratory study also found 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) inhibiting properties in lipophilic extracts of A. lancea rhizome.[12]


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals with bleeding disorders or those taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin).

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

A. lancea has been reported safe in recommended doses. A. lancea has been reported to inhibit platelet aggregation in laboratory studies, so use with caution if taking blood-thinning medications such as asirin or warfarin (Coumadin).[13] Discontinue if allergy occurs.


No documentation

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation


  1. Wang HX, Liu CM, Liu Q, Gao K. Three types of sesquiterpenes from rhizomes of Atractylodes lancea. Phytochemistry. Jul2008;69(10):2088-2094.
  2. Kitajima J, Kamoshita A, Ishikawa T, et al. Glycosides of Atractylodes lancea. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jun 2003;51(6):673-678.
  3. Chen Y, Chou G, Wang Z. [Simultaneous determination of polyacetylene components in Cangzhu by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography]. Se Pu. Jan2007;25(1):84-87.
  4. Nakai Y, Kido T, Hashimoto K, Kase Y, et al. Effect of the rhizomes of Atractylodes lancea and its constituents on the delay of gastric emptying. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jan;84(1):51-55.
  5. Zhang H, Han T, Sun LN, Huang BK, Chen YF, Zheng HC, Qin LP. Regulative effects of essential oil from Atractylodes lancea on delayed gastric emptying in stress-induced rats. Phytomedicine. Aug2008;15(8):602-611.
  6. Taguchi I, Kiyohara H, Matsumoto T, Yamada H. Structure of oligosaccharide side chains of an intestinal immune system modulating arabinogalactan isolated from rhizomes of Atractylodes lancea DC. Carbohydr Res. 15Mar2004;339(4):763-770.
  7. Yu KW, Kiyohara H, Matsumoto T, Yang HC, Yamada H. Intestinal immune system modulating polysaccharides from rhizomes of Atractylodes lancea. Planta Med. Dec1998;64(8):714-719.
  8. Tsuneki H, Ma EL, Kobayashi S, et al. Antiangiogenic activity of beta-eudesmol in vitro and in vivo. Eur J Pharmacol. 11Apr2005;512(2-3):105-115.
  9. Kimura I. Medical benefits of using natural compounds and their derivatives having multiple pharmacological actions. Yakugaku Zasshi. Mar2006;126(3):133-143.
  10. Duan JA, Wang L, Qian S, Su S, Tang Y. A new cytotoxic prenylated dihydrobenzofuran derivative and other chemical constituents from the rhizomes of Atractylodes lancea DC. Arch Pharm Res. Aug2008;31(8):965-969.
  11. Shi J, Hu Y, Wang Q. Fufang cangzhu tang for treatment of senile obesity or overweight complicated with impaired glucose tolerance --a clinical observation in 32 cases. J Tradit Chin Med. Mar2006;26(1):33-35.
  12. Resch M, Steigel A, Chen ZL, Bauer R. 5-Lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase-1 inhibitory active compounds from Atractylodes lancea. J Nat Prod. Mar1998;61(3):347-350.
  13. Nasu Y, Iwashita M, Saito M, et al. Inhibitory effects of Atractylodis lanceae rhizoma and Poria on collagen- or thromboxane A2-induced aggregation in rabbit platelets. Biol Pharm Bull. 2009;32(5):856-860.

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