Gastrodia health benefits include the control of seizures, relief of migraines, improvement of motor function after a stroke, and much more.
Many of the herbal formulas used here at Natchez Trace Veterinary Services contain Gastrodia as one of the main ingredients, so we thought you may be interested in the history, use and effects of this amazing herb.
One of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Gastrodia blends used in our clinic is Gastrodia Settle Seizures. This is an ancient herbal blend that is used to exhaust external wind and settle seizures. Gastrodia (tian ma) is the key ingredient in this formula, blended with Loranthus (sang ji sheng), Abalone Shell (shi jue ming), Uncaria (gou teng), Poria (fu shen), Leonurus (yi mu cao), Cyathulae (chuan niu xi), Eucommia Bark (du zhong), Polygonum (ye jiao teng), Gardenia (zhi zi), and Scutellaria (huang qin) to help settle the body’s internal wind and control the seizures.
The medical community defines seizures as massive, uncontrolled, random firings of neurons within the brain. The cause of seizures is often unknown in Western veterinary medicine. Chinese veterinary medicine considers seizures to be a severe version of internal wind–an internal tornado. In the natural world, this most extreme version of excessive wind is caused when a hot air front meets a cold air front or vice versa. The nature of the body is similar. Seizures are often experienced after situations that cause extreme heat such as vaccines, toxins, anesthesia, extreme stress or extreme frustration. This heat inside the body is caused by the liver yang rising upward. Gastrodia is the main ingredient in Gastrodia Settle Seizures. Gastrodia has been shown to increase the firing of threshold neurons, and by doing so decrease the uncontrolled random firing of neurons within the brain. This reduces the number of seizures and lessens their severity.
The herbal preparation is made from the rhizome or tuber of the plant. This herb is originally from the far east in areas of China, Japan, Korea and Tibet. It is one of the oldest used herbs in Chinese medicine, but not very well known to Western herbalists.
Gastrodia is first mentioned in the Shennong Bencao Jing, which was compiled around a.d. 100. A later Chinese herbalist named Tao Hong placed gastrodia in the category of superior herbs, which meant that it could be taken for long periods of time, and that it could be used to promote longevity as well as to treat illnesses. It was originally called chiqian, which means “red arrow” in Chinese, because its stem is red and arrow-shaped. Later it was named tian ma, or “heavenly hemp,” which is the name that it still bears in Chinese herbal formularies. Like other wild orchids, Gastrodia elata has been placed on the list of endangered species. The increasing difficulty of finding wild gastrodia in the 1970s led to an interesting discovery about this plant. Chinese herbalists tried to cultivate gastrodia, but failed until biologists discovered that the plant needs two fungi in order to survive and reproduce. It needs the Armillaria mellea mushroom on its tuber in order to grow and mature; and it requires a second fungus called Mycena osmundicola to help its seeds to sprout. After this complicated relationship was understood, herbalists were able to grow gastrodia. -NaturalsPedia.com
The gastrodia plant is very interesting and unusual in the fact that it depends on fungi for survival. The Armillaria mellea mushroom myelia must be incorporated into the tuber of the gastrodia plant for it to mature and grow. Mycenia osmundicola, another fungus, is required to sprout the seed. Scientific studies have shown that the medicinal benefits of gastrodia are actually found mainly in the metabolites of the Armillaria mushroom, rather than the gastrodia plant itself. This means that if the mushroom could be grown on its own, the gastrodia tuber would not be needed.
Gastrodia Health Benefits in Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine Gastrodia Root (tian ma) is considered to be neutral and sweet and affects the liver meridian. This herb is used to calm the liver and extinguish liver wind from either cold or heat patterns. In TCM this type of liver wind is considered the cause of tremors, headache, spasms, epilepsy, and childhood convulsions. Gastrodia Root (tian ma) can also be used to treat problems caused by heat or blood deficiency. By extinguishing wind, this herb help alleviate migraines by reducing the migraine headache pain and dizziness that occur with wind-phlegm patterns. This herb will also help relieve numbness and pain in the lower back and extremities caused by wind phlegm. Traditional Chinese herbalists also use gastrodia to treat numbness of the limbs, rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, and motor impairment of hands, feet, and limbs due to stroke.
Gastrodia Health Benefits in Western Herbal Medicine
Historically, gastrodia has not been used by Western herbalists. But recently, the active ingredient has been extracted from the gastrodia tuber to make vanillin tablets. Vanillin tablets have been shown to be effective in treating grand mal seizures and petit mal attacks of epilepsy.
Gastrodia Contraindications and Signs of Overdosage
Gastrodia has not been used by Western herbalists, so there are no studies of its interactions with Western pharmaceuticals. Gastrodia should not be used by pregnant females. Signs of overdosage include skin allergies, hair loss, and other similar allergic reactions
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