COMMON NAME (Chinese Name)

Atractylodes (Baizhu)


Atractylodes Macrocephala


Atractylodes rhyzome is classified in Chinese medicine as warm, dry, bitter and sweet. It is believed to tonify the Spleen and qi. The most common uses are for the short-term relief of acute indigestion, diarrhea, and vomiting, and the long-term relief of edema, bloating, and other types of water retention. Atractylodes have also been shown to reduce inflammation and inflammation-related pain and  help improve low appetite.

Keeping in mind that each of these conditions can be somatic manifestations of stress, atractylodes are doubly useful when treating stress-induced digestive upset. That’s because it both eliminates the symptom and treats the underlying stress-trauma causing it (because it’s an adaptogen, so it helps fight the emotional and physical effects of stress). This also means that atractylodes make a useful sleep-aid (really, a sedative) for folks struggling with stress-related sleep loss.


The most common and most effective preparations of atractylodes are extracts, teas, and other decoctions made from its roots, though it is also often available to buy in pure powdered form.


If you’re allergic to ragweed, you’re likely allergic to atractylodes, so you shouldn’t take this supplement due to the risk of allergic reaction. Don’t use it unless there are signs of dryness, heat or insufficient mucous. Other than that, the worst side effects of atractylodes are dry mouth, dizziness and nausea, which can be resolved by lowering the dosage. That said, there’s little modern research into its effects on pregnancy, fetal development, or babies’ health when they’re exposed to it through breast milk.

You should consult with a certified herbalist, physician or other qualified healthcare professional before taking Atractylodes.



Liu, Yi, et al. “A Randomized Pilot Study of Atractylenolide I on Gastric Cancer Cachexia Patients.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, Oxford University Press, Sept. 2008

Resch M, Heilmann J, Steigel A, Bauer R. Further phenols and polyacetylenes from the rhizomes of Atractylodes lancea and their anti-inflammatory activity. Planta Med 2001;67:437-42.

Singh, Amrinder, and Kaicun Zhao. “Treatment of Insomnia With Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine.” International Review of Neurobiology, Academic Press, 3 Apr. 2017

Yang, Yifan, and Mazin Al-Khafaji. “Chinese Herbal Medicines.” Chinese Herbal Medicines (Second Edition), Churchill Livingstone, 28 Apr. 2010

“Atractylodes: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning.” WebMD, WebMD


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