Plantherb Recognition

The rhizome has an irregular knotty, fist-like appearance, is approximately 2-7 cm in diameter, and is yellowish in color. The external surface is rough, shrunken, and marked by parallel raised annulations. A cross-section of the root, reveals a compact, yellowish-gray matrix with scattered yellowish-brown oil cavities and a cambium in an undulated ring (Fig. 1). Chuanxiong

Ligusticum Chuanxiong Oil

hc=chcooh h3c

Figure 1 Structures of compounds isolated from Ligusticum chuanxiong: (a) senkyonolide A, (b) perulic acid, and (c) tetramethylpyrazine.

hc=chcooh h3c

Figure 1 Structures of compounds isolated from Ligusticum chuanxiong: (a) senkyonolide A, (b) perulic acid, and (c) tetramethylpyrazine.

is strongly aromatic and the taste of the rhizome is slightly bitter with a sweet aftertaste. These characteristics are part of the traditional methods for identification of this herb. Other identification parameters, including the use of microscopic examination, colorimetric testing, and thin-layer chromatography, have been described in the Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China (1).

III. USAGE

A. Traditional Usage

Ligusticum is traditionally used "to invigorate blood circulation, to promote the flow of qi, to dispel wind, and to alleviate pain.'' It is prescribed for headaches, abdominal pain, menstrual disorders (amenorrhea, dysmenor-rhea), and for patients with pricking pain in the chest and costal regions, pain due to traumatic injury, headache, and rheumatic arthralgia (1).

B. Modern Usage

In recent years, owing to the renewed interest in herbal medicines, many inventors in the United States, Japan, and China have submitted patents based on traditional usage of ligusticum. Among the patents filed in the Chinese patent office are products with L. chuanxiong extracts that are used as detergents to prevent and treat acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (2), as a bathing lotion to promote blood circulation, and to improve skin conditions (3). In Japan, the herb has been patented for having the property to improve brain function (4). In the U.S. patent and trademark office, herbal concoctions with L. chuanxiong have been patented for application to the skin to help skin regeneration in patients with eczema and psoriasis (5). Tao in 2002 (6,7)

submitted two patent applications for the use of ligusticum herbal extracts with the addition of minerals and vitamins for the treatment of brain disorders as well as to enhance brain function and for the treatment of hand and wrist discomfort.

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