Bupleurum root: uses, benefits and contraindications

Bupleurum root helps control diabetes and strengthen the immune system. Find out what other benefits it has and if it could be toxic.

Last update: September 11, 2021

Bupleurum is the name given to a genus of plants native to Eurasia, which has more than 460 species. Although only a little more than 200 have been described and accepted. In general, they are characterized by being perennial plants and their root is appreciated for having potential health benefits. Traditional Chinese medicine has used bupleurum root for centuries.

One of its main benefits is associated with liver health. Likewise, there is scientific evidence suggesting that it could help reduce inflammation, improve diabetes control, and boost the immune system.

Possible benefits of bupleurum root

Bupleurum root it has also been used in Korea and Japan to fight the flu, cold and fever. Let's take a closer look at other ways it could benefit your health.

1. Could control diabetes

Neuropathy is a complication that often affects people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Damage is caused to small nerves, especially in the extremities.

These damages lead to loss of sensation, so in the event of an injury, it can go unnoticed and get worse. Usually, neuropathy is linked to a lower quality of life.

Now, a study in rodents found that bupleurum is capable of lowering blood sugar levels, as well as reducing inflammation and strengthening the intestinal microbiota. Similarly, a study in mice with diabetes showed that those who consumed bupleurum for 2 days they showed a decrease in blood glucose levels and an increase in insulin.

This is relevant because insulin is crucial to keep glucose levels stable. Thus, would prevent complications such as neuropathy. Of course, it should be taken into account that there is still no research in humans.

Limb involvement in diabetic neuropathy affects sensation.

2. Promotes a healthy immune system

A strong immune system means fewer illnesses. Fortunately, there is research to suggest that bupleurum can increase the body's natural defenses.

According to a study in rodents, the bupleurum was able to inhibit cytokine production, small proteins associated with inflammation. Similarly, a test-tube study found that the root has anti-inflammatory properties.

On the other hand, an investigation in humans showed that the herbal decoction of bupleurum it is 93.3% effective against influenza A (H1N1). And without causing any kind of side effects. However, more studies are needed to support these effects.

3. Reduces the risk of developing liver diseases

This is one of the best known benefits of bupleurum root. In fact, in China it has been used for centuries for these purposes.

A study published in BioMed Research International, who examined different herbal preparations, found that this genus of plants is able to protect the liver from damage caused by altered calcium levels in cells. However, more research is still required to support these effects.

Contraindications and side effects of bupleurum root

Despite limited scientific evidence, Bupleurum root is known to have serious side effects. In general, if consumed in high doses it can be considered toxic, even causing liver damage.

The same research published in BioMed Research International showed that if consumed in very high doses, the saikosaponins present in bupleurum they can cause inflammation and damage to the liver in a short time.

Similarly, a study in rodents showed that if 50 to 125 grams per kilogram of body weight are consumed, the bupleurum can lead to liver damage within 1 to 2 weeks. Finally, a study in patients with hepatitis B found that those who took 19 grams daily of bupleurum experienced an increased chance of hospitalization for liver damage.

In that sense, people with liver diseases should consult with a specialist before taking bupleurum in any of its presentations. This recommendation also applies to pregnant and lactating women, given the lack of studies in these groups.

Root liver toxicity is its most serious and well-known side effect.

How can it be taken?

Although you can find dried roots with which to make preparations, the most common presentations of bupleurum are the capsules and drops. Yes indeed; A recommended dose has not been established and, as we have seen, excessive consumption should be avoided.

Now, the doses of the capsules vary according to the manufacturer, between 100 to 1000 milligrams. Likewise, it is not advisable to eat more than what is recommended on the label.

In large quantities, bupleurum root could be toxic

While it is true that this root has been used in China, Japan and Korea for a long time and in the treatment of a wide variety of conditions, you must be very careful with your intake. In high doses, bupleurum it is capable of causing liver damage in a very short time.