(NaturalNews) The bark of the Eucommia ulmoides plant, also known as "Du Zhong", has been used for thousands of years by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners for various medical purposes. Since the plant did not grow widely outside of China until recent times, many other cultures are still relatively unfamiliar with the extensive benefits of this herb.
Today, Eucommia bark is known mainly for two of its many qualities, namely its ability to relieve backache as well as its blood pressure-lowering properties. But there's more to Eucommia than these two benefits. Below are the main qualities of the herb.
Eucommia for backaches
In TCM, backaches are often considered a sign of Shen deficiency. Since Eucommia nourishes the Shen, it is widely used by the Chinese for strengthening the back and relieving backaches.
The link between Eucommia and backaches may be understood through two modern studies in 2000 by Japanese researches in Nihon University (Chiba, Japan). They found that the leaves and bark of Eucommia contained a compound that encourages collagen development in rats. Collagen is crucial for the health of connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments that are found throughout the body, including the back.
Eucommia for lowering blood pressure
Scientific studies since 1974 investigating the effects of Eucommia bark on high blood pressure have found that the herb reduces blood pressure in those with hypertension. But unlike drugs, it does not further lower blood pressure in those already with low blood pressure. Some have attributed its ability to lower blood pressure to its mild diuretic action.
Beyond backaches and high blood pressure
TCM healers have traditionally used the Eucommnia bark for more than backaches and high blood pressure-related symptoms.
Since Eucommia nourished the Shen and yang in the body, TCM practitioners often use it for the treatment of impotence and premature ejaculation brought about by deficiency in Shen yang. The ability of the herb to increase nitric-oxide might be involved in addressing such impotency conditions.
The herb could also be used for dealing with other health conditions brought about by deficiencies in Shen and Gan, including but not limited to conditions like premature graying of hair, blurry vision, tinnitus, poor memory, menstrual issues, as well as fertility issues in both men and women.
In ladies, Eucommia bark has be used for supporting pregnancies, by "calming the fetus", soothing the uterus and reducing the occurrence of miscarriages.
Studies have also found that Eucommia enhances adrenocortical functions and induces the production of interferon (which triggers the immune system to defend against pathogen and tumors). These mechanisms probably explain the immunity-enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties of the herb.
How to use the herb
For all its extensive health and medical benefits, the herb is surprisingly mild in terms of its toxicity and side effects. Hence, it can be safely consumed by most people, whether as medicine, nutritional supplementation or as food. Read more about how you could incorporate the herb into your health routine.
An important point to note - since Eucommia raises yang levels in the body, those who are yin-deficient-huo-excessive need to use the herb with caution, in order not to aggravate any pre-existing imbalance(s) in the body.
You should not self-medicate with Eucommia if you experience symptoms like night sweating, hot flashes, dry cough with little or bloody phlegm, have a sore throat or are down with flu. If you suspect that you have a serious bodily imbalance, it is best to consult a qualified TCM practitioner or herbalist on your condition before using Eucommia.
About the author: Cindy L. has a keen interest in natural healing. She was previously trained in Psychology and is currently receiving training in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has written on depression (at HolisticDepressionHelp.com) as well as other ailments (at Insights On Health.com).
Her belief in holistic living extends beyond health - her passion for green living can be seen in her website at All Recycling Facts.com.