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Huai Niu Xi

English Name: achyranthes root

Literal Translation: “ox knee from Huai”

Pharmaceutical Name: Radix Achyranthes

Medica Category: Blood-Invigorating and Stasis-Removing Herbs

Properties: Huai Niu Xi enters the Liver and Kidney channels; it is bitter and sour in nature and neutral in temperature.

What is Huai Niu Xi?:

The Chinese Herb Huai Niu Xi is the dried root of a species of flowering plant in the amaranth family (Achyranthes bidentata Blume) that is distributed in tropical and sub-tropical climes throughout Southern China and Southeast Asia.

In classical times, no distinction was made between this herb, Huai Niu Xi, and the herb Chuan Niu Xi (which comes from a different genus of plant in the amaranth family). They are both very, very similar in their actions; the distinction between the two lies, then, in the relative potencies of their therapeutic actions. Huai Niu Xi, for example, is better at strengthening the tendons and bones (which means it is the better choice for lower back and knee pain) whereas Chuan Niu Xi is better at activating blood circulation and breaking blood stasis (which means it is more suited to gynecological problems). In this entry (as well as the entry for Chuan Niu Xi) the therapeutic actions are listed in order from strongest to mildest so that the two herbs can be compared and contrasted.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Huai Niu Xi:

Huai Niu Xi tonifies the Liver and Kidney to strengthen tendons and bones. Clinically, this herb addresses lower back pain with weak knees as well as general joint pain and swelling in the lower part of the body. Research in China suggests this herb’s applicability in addressing osteoarthritis, although this is not a verifiable “medical” claim at this stage of research.

Huai Niu Xi activates blood circulation and breaks blood stasis to treat a wide variety of gynecological disorders to include amenorrhea, menstrual pain, and postpartum uterine bleeding with pain. This herb is also commonly used to dispel stasis that causes pain and swelling from traumatic/sports injuries.

Huai Niu Xi promotes urination, eliminates blood stasis, and dispels damp-heat from lower jiao to address hemauria (with burning sensations while urinating).

Huai Niu Xi has a downward action which addresses abnormal bleeding caused by “fire flaring upwards”; clinically, Huai Niu Xi is used in this regard to directly address nosebleeds, toothaches, mouth and tongue ulcerations, headaches, and dizziness. It also helps put the “upward flaring fire” out at the base by tonifying Liver and Kidney Yin. This helps anchor Liver yang and keep Liver wind from rising (or “fanning the flames”) in the first place.

–safety note:

Contraindicated during pregnancy and in cases of profuse menstrual bleeding.

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