Home > Herbal Glossary > Chinese Herb List > Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong
>>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
Chuan Xiong
Latin Name: Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong
Common Name: Sichuan lovage rhizome
Scientific Name: Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort
Chinese Name: 川芎
Pinyin Name: chuan xiong
The rhizome of Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort., a perennial herbal plant of the Umbelliferae / Apiaceae family.
Where Does It Grow?
Sichuan lovage is mainly produced in Sichuan province of China, other provinces like Jiangxi, Hubei and Xhaanxi also provide part of the supply. Nowadays, the herb is sourced from cultivation.
Nature and Flavor
Sichuan lovage rhizome is pungent in flavor, warm in nature, and mainly manifests its therapeutic actions in the liver, gallbladder and pericardium meridians.
Identified Active Components/ Major Chemical Constituents 
The active components in Sichuan lovage rhizome include volatile oils, alkaloids and organic acids. The volatile oils are ligustilide, sabinene, limonene and senkyunolide A-S; the alkaloids are tetramethylpyrazine, perlolyrine, wallichilide, 3-butylidene-7-hydroxyphthalide, (3S)-3-butyl-4-hydroxyphthalide; the organic acids are ferulic acid, sedanonic acid, folic acid, vanillic acid, caffeic acid and protocatechuic acid, etc.
Drug actions in TCM
Sichuan lovage rhizome activates blood and qi (vital energy), expels wind pathogens and relieves pain.
Traditional Uses in TCM
1. Sichuan lovage rhizome is an important ingredient for gynecological disorders. It can be prescribed with red peony root and peach kernel to relieve missed periods and menstrual pain that due to blood stasis. When individuals also have limb coldness and clear vaginal discharge, then cinnamon and angelica root are added in the prescription to eliminate the cold pathogens. Stagnation of liver qi is a usual cause of menstrual disorders, Sichuan lovage rhizome can be prescribed with bupleurum root, white peony root and nutgrass rhizome for the treatment.
2. Sichuan lovage rhizome is commonly used for pain relief and promoting blood circulation. For chest pain or angina which is a sign of stagnated blood flow in the heart vessels, the herb is prescribed with red sage root, cassia twig and sandal wood. It can be used along with notoginseng, frankincense and myrrh to relieve pain and swelling in traumatic injuries. In chronic limb and joint problems, Sichuan lovage rhizome is prescribed with pubescent angelica root, cassia twig and ledebouriella root to relieve pain, numbness or spasm. When abscesses are formed, the herb is prescribed with astragalus root, angelica root and Chinese honeylocust spine to facilitate pus drainage and promote healing.
3. Sichuan lovage rhizome tends to exert its effects in the head region, and is usually prescribed for headache disorders. For example, headache accompanied with fever, flushed face, red eyes and throat soreness, indicate a wind-heat syndrome and should prescribe Sichuan lovage rhizome, gypsum and chrysanthemum; while headache accompanied with chills, binding sensation over the head, and are aggravated by cold wind, indicate a wind-cold syndrome and should prescribe Sichuan lovage rhizome, Dahurian angelica root and Manchurian wildginger.

Modern TCM also uses Sichuan lovage rhizome to treat cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, respiratory and renal diseases.
Pharmacological Actions

The pharmacological actions of Sichuan lovage rhizome include protection against coronary and cerebral ischemia, anti-platelet, anti-coagulant, anti-spastic, sedative and pain relief, etc.


Cardio-protective effect

Ex vivo study
A study investigated the protective effect of Chuanxiong-pathalide A (CXPA), ingredient of Sichuan lovage rhizome, on the injury of vascular endothelial cell induced by ischemia and reperfusion. Isolated rat hearts were perfused with CXPA at different concentrations followed by the induction of global ischemia and reperfusion. Results showed that CXPA can reduce the incidence and duration of reperfusion-induced ventricular fibrillation (VF) and ventricular tachycardia (VT), and increase coronary flow in isolated rat heart. It shows that CXPA pretreatment can protect against heart damage caused by ischemia and reperfusion.


Neuroprotective effect

Animal study
Study investigated the neuroprotective mechanisms of Tetramethylpyrazine (TMP), constituent of Sichuan lovage rhizome, in artery occlusion rat models. TMP was pre-treated before occlusion via intraperitoneal injection. The results showed that the neuronal loss and brain infarction were markedly lowered by treatment with TMP. The study also found out that TMP might provide its neuroprotective effect through suppression of inflammatory reaction, reduction of neuronal apoptosis, and prevention of neuronal loss.


Anti-platelet effect

In vitro study
The inhibitive effect of the active ingredient, Tetramethylpyrazine (TMP), on shear-induced platelet aggregation (SIPA) was investigated using blood from rats. Blood was first collected, and different doses of TMP were added to the platelet-rich-plasma (PRP). Then the PRP was transferred to a platelet aggregometer and determined the SIPA. The results show that SIPA was inhibited by TMP in a dose-dependent manner.


Analgesia effect

Animal study
Study has shown that oral administration of volatile oil from Sichuan lovage rhizome (SLRVO) to mice can significantly elevate the pain threshold in the hot-plate test and reduced the number of abdominal writhing caused by acetic acid. Another study using rabbits showed that SLRVO can significantly increase the pain threshold of headache due to hot radiation. These results suggest that SLRVO is probably the active ingredient of Sichuan lovage rhizome on treating pain and has potential to be an agent for treating headache.

Administration and Dosage
3-10g each time for decoction.
Adverse Effect, Side Effects and Cautions
Yin deficient, excessive menses, bleeding disorders and pregnancy are not recommended.

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6. Gao Wei, et al. Protective effect of the pretreatment with Chuanxiong-phthalide A on the vascular endothelial cells impaired by the ischemia and reperfusion in isolated rats hearts. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi; 30(18): 1448-1451.
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9. Peng C, et al. Pharmacodynamic action and mechanism of volatile oil from Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong Hort. on treating headache. Phytomedicine. 2009; 16(1): 25-34.