Home > Herbal Glossary > Chinese Herb List > Rhizoma Atractylodis
>>Where Does It Grow?
>>Nature and Flavor
>>Identified Active Components / Major Chemical
>>Drug actions in TCM
>>Traditional Uses in TCM
>>Pharmacological Actions
>>Administration and Dosage
>>Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions
Atractylodes rhizome
Atractylodes rhizome
Latin Name: Rhizoma Atractylodis
Common Name: Atractylodes rhizome
Scientific Name: Atractylodes lancea (Thunb.) DC. / Atractylodes chinensis (DC.) Koidz.
Chinese Name: 蒼朮
Pinyin Name: cang zhu
The dry tuber of Atractylodes lancea (Thunb.) DC., or Atractylodes chinensis (DC.) Koidz., a plant of the Compositate family.[1]
Where Does It Grow?
Atractylodes lancea (Thunb.) DC. is mainly produced in Jiangsu, Hubei, and Henan provinces in China, others like Zhejiang, Anhui, and Jiangxi are also produced. The supplies from Jiangsu and Henan have better quality, but the production in Hubei is the largest. Atractylodes chinensis (DC.) Koidz. is mainly produced in Hebei, Shanxi, and Shensi provinces, other places like Liaoning, Inner Mongolia and Gansu are also produced. Nowadays, the herb is cultivated.[1],[5],[6]
Nature and Flavor
Atractylodes rhizome is warm in nature, pungent and bitter in flavor, and mainly manifests its therapeutic actions in the spleen, stomach and liver meridians.[7]
Identified Active Components/ Major Chemical Constituents 
Atractylodes rhizome contains volatile oils, such as atractylodin, atractylon, hinesol, β-eudesmol, and elemol. It also has acetoxyatractylon, 3β-hydroxyatracetylon, atractylodinol, acetylatractylodinol, β-selinene, furfural and tryptophan. Others are atractylosides A-I, 3-acetyl-β-amyrin and osthol. Generally, the amount of volatile oils in Atractylodes chinensis (DC.) Koidz. is lower than the amount in Atractylodes lancea (Thunb.) DC.[4],[5],[6]

In the Pharmacopoeia of People's Republic of China (2015 Edition) - Part I, the level of atractylodin should not less than 0.3%, as the standard quality of the herb.
Drug actions in TCM
Atractylodes rhizome dry dampness, enhances spleen, expels wind and dampness, and sharpens vision.[7]
Traditional Uses in TCM

Atractylodes rhizome is often used for conditions like gastric and abdominal distention, diarrhea, general swelling, weakness or withering of lower legs, rheumatic joints, cold and flu, night blindness, blurred vision and dry eyes.[2],[3],[4]

  • Atractylodes rhizome dry dampness and enhances spleen
    Dampness accumulated in the spleen and stomach will lead to gastric and abdominal distention, nausea, low appetite, diarrhea, weakness and white greasy tongue coating. Atractylodes rhizome is an essential ingredient which usually combines with herbs like magnolia bark, dried tangerine peel and liquorice root for the treatment, a representative formula is the Calm the Stomach Powder (Ping Wei San). For watery diarrhea that associated with damp-heat accumulation, atractylodes rhizome can work with poria and plantain seed to arrest the diarrhea rapidly. In case if persistent diarrhea or passing loose bowels only, atractylodes rhizome can work with largehead atractylodes rhizome, poria and hyacinth bean for relief.
  • Atractylodes rhizome specializes in resolving stagnation
    The herb often works with herbs like Sichuan lovage rhizome, nutgrass flatsedge rhizome, gardenia fruit and medicated leaven for the conditions. For dampness stagnation, poria and Dahurian angelica root are used additionally; for phlegm stagnation, pumice stone and snakegourd fruit are used additionally; for heat stagnation, natural indigo is used additionally; for blood stagnation, peach kernel and Chinese safflower are used additionally; for food retention, hawthorn fruit is used additionally.
  • Atractylodes rhizome promotes perspiration and expels dampness
    When wind and coldness accompanied with dampness to attack the superficial portion of the body, individuals may experience headache, body aching, chills, fever, and no sweating, atractylodes rhizome can work with notopterygium root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, and Dahurian angelica root for relief. When the attack is caused by damp-heat, that induces persistent fever, chest stuffiness, and body heaviness, then the herb should work with gypsum and anemarrhena rhizome for relief.
  • Atractylodes rhizome is suitable for rheumatic joint problems
    When individuals experience limb heaviness, muscular soreness or numbness, atractylodes rhizome can work with pubescent angelica root, gentiana macrophylla root and fourstamen stephania root to expel dampness in the limbs and relieve the bi syndrome. When individuals also accompanied coldness and clamps of the limbs, then extra herbs like notopterygium root, cassia twig, or common monkshood mother root may be used. When damp-heat accumulated in the lower body, there will be swollen and painful knees, weakness and withered lower legs, and even walking difficulty, then atractylodes rhizome can work with herbs like gypsum, anemarrhena rhizome or amur corktree bark for the treatment. When damp-heat attacked the groin, there will be excess vaginal discharges, wet sores or eczema in the region, which can also be treated with similar herbs.
  • Atractylodes rhizome promotes eye health
    For individuals with night blindness, blurred vision or dry eyes, physician may recommend them to use atractylodes rhizome and animal liver to make dishes. Modern studies have showed that the herb contains rich vitamin A, which is beneficial to vision and corneal problems that associated with vitamin A deficiency.

    Atractylodes rhizome is an aroma herb; it is a custom for the general public to use the herb along with Dahurian angelica root to smoke the environment, as a way of disinfection during epidemic periods. Other herbs like acorus and argy wormwood leaf are also popular for this.
Pharmacological Actions

Studies showed that atractylodes rhizome has effects in regulating gastric and intestinal movements, anti-peptic, inhibiting digestive secretions, regulating blood sugar and pressure levels, promoting potassium and sodium discharges, protecting liver, facilitating gall-bladder secretions, tranquilizing, pain killing, antioxidant, anti-tumor, inhibiting bacteria and disinfection.[4],[5]

Administration and Dosage

For decoction, the suggested dosage for atractylodes rhizome is 3〜9g, or in powder and pill preparations. The maximum dosage is 9〜15g, if necessary.[4]

Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions
Atractylodes rhizome is not indicated for those with virtual fire, eye or mouth dryness, or who experience heat signs frequently. Improper use or over dosing can lead to discomforts like extreme mouth dryness, and hard stools.[4]

1. Li Jiashi (editor-in-chief), Chinese Medicine Identification, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, 2000-2.
2. Lui Daiquan (editor-in-chief), Chinese Herbal Medicine, Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publishers, 2000-6.
3. Tao Yufeng, Clinical Herbal Medicine, People¡¦s Medical Publishing House, 2005-5.
4. Chen Pian, Clinical Application of Tonifying Herbs, Second Military Medical University Press, 2008-8.
5. Zhao Zhongzhen & Xiao Peigen (editor-in-chief), Contemporary Medicinal Herbal Glossary, Hong Kong Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine, 2006-8.
6. The Institute of Medicinal Plant Development et al, A Record on Chinese Medicinal Herbs, People's Medical Publishing House, 1994-1.
7. http://www.zysj.com.cn/zhongyaocai/yaocai_c/cangshu.html