Saussurea (Saussurea spp.)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Saussurea is used in traditional Chinese herbal medicines, as well as traditional medicine in Korean, Tibetan, Indian, Uighur, Pakistani, and Mongolian cultures.
The root, called costus root, is used to make a drug called aucklandia or mu xiang. In parts of Asia, the root is smoked in place of opium. It is also used as a spice and as incense, as well as to protect fabric from moths.
Extracts of costus, as well as many species of saussurea, are used to prevent muscle spasms, increase airflow in the lungs, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and protect the nerves and stomach.
Saussurea has been studied for its possible effects on arthritis, asthma, stomach problems, and parasites. However, reliable evidence supporting the use of saussurea for any medical condition is lacking at this time.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Early evidence suggests that Saussurea lappa may lack an effect on arthritis. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Evidence supporting the use of saussurea for asthma is lacking. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Early research suggests that healthy people who take saussurea by mouth may experience a shorter time for food in the stomach to reach the small intestine, as well as higher levels of a protein that stimulates the gut muscle to contract. However, there was a lack of effect in people who had gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). More research is needed.
Early research suggests that saussurea may protect against parasites in children. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.
*Key to grades:
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Aging, aggression, Alzheimer’s disease, antioxidant, antispasmodic (prevents muscle spasms), anxiety, autoimmune disorders, bacterial infection, bile secretion, blood thinner, brain tumors, cancer, cavities, cholera, cognitive disorders, colon cancer, constipation, dementia, diabetes, diabetic complications, digestion, exercise performance, fever, fungal infections, headache, heart disease, Helicobacter pylori infection, hiccups, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, immune stimulant, inflammation, kidney disorders, leukemia, liver cancer, liver disorders, liver inflammation, memory, nervous system function, pain, painful menstruation, prostate cancer, respiratory ailments, sepsis, skin disorders, stimulant, stomach cancer, stomach disorders, stomach spasms, stroke, tonic (blood), typhoid, ulcers, uterus stimulant, viral infections.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
Saussurea has been taken by mouth as a tea or as tablets. Saussurea has also been given under the skin.
Children (under 18 years old)
To treat parasite infections in children, a single dose of 30, 40, or 50 milligrams of Saussurea lappa per kilogram has been taken by mouth.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid if allergic or sensitive to Saussurea species, their parts (including the sesquiterpene lactones), or members of the Asteraceae family. Allergy and sensitivity in the form of skin reactions to Saussurea have been reported, including skin lesions and redness.
There have been reports of people with light-sensitive skin allergic reactions, low peripheral blood lymphocyte counts, and lung cancer who were also sensitive to costus root and costus root oil. People who have late-stage stomach cancer tended to lose sensitivity to costus root oil compared to people with colon cancer.
There have been reports of cross-reactions to 8-deoxycumambrin,
arbusculin A, arbusculin C, rothin A, damsin, and other compounds that are similar to the sesquiterpene lactones found in costus root oil.
Side Effects and Warnings
Saussurea is possibly safe when used according to traditional recommendations. Costus root oil may cause blood cell damage.
Use cautiously in all people, as aristocholic acid, a constituent found in some saussurea preparations, may cause cancer.
Use cautiously in people who have dehydration or dryness.
Saussurea may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people with low pressure or in those taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.
Saussurea may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Use cautiously in people who have kidney disorders, as aristocholic acid, contained in some saussurea preparations, may damage the kidneys.
Saussurea may increase the risk of bleeding. Avoid in people with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Avoid in children and in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of safety data.
Avoid using in aromatherapy due to reports of skin irritation.
Avoid if allergic or sensitive to Saussurea species, their parts (including the sesquiterpene lactones), or members of the Asteraceae family.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of saussurea during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Saussurea may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Saussurea may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Saussurea may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
Saussurea may also interact with agents that may affect the blood, agents that may affect the immune system, agents that may affect the nervous system, agents that may affect the skin, agents that may affect the liver, agents that may improve exercise performance, agents that may treat anxiety, agents that may treat heart disorders, agents that may affect the kidney, agents that may treat stomach disorders, agents that may treat ulcers and reduce stomach acid, agents that may stimulate the uterus, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungals, anti-inflammatory agents, antiparasitics, antivirals, cholesterol-lowering agents, pain relievers, scopolamine, ticlopidine, and warfarin.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Saussurea may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Saussurea may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Saussurea may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
Saussurea may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiparasitics, antivirals, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, Corydalis, herbs and supplements that may affect the blood, herbs and supplements that may affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that may affect the nervous system, herbs and supplements that may affect the skin, herbs and supplements that may affect the liver, herbs and supplements that may improve exercise performance, herbs and supplements that may treat anxiety, herbs and supplements that may treat heart disorders, herbs and supplements that may affect the kidney, herbs and supplements that may treat stomach disorders, herbs and supplements that may treat ulcers and reduce stomach acid, herbs and supplements that may stimulate the uterus, kangen-karyu, pain relievers, and scopolamine.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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- Chen RD, Zou JH, Jia JM, et al. Chemical constituents from the cell cultures of Saussurea involucrata. J Asian Nat.Prod.Res 2010;12(2):119-123. View Abstract
- Hsiao WL and Liu L. The role of traditional Chinese herbal medicines in cancer therapy–from TCM theory to mechanistic insights. Planta Med 2010;76(11):1118-1131. View Abstract
- Li G, Sun Z, Song C, et al. A sensitive fluorescence reagent, 2-[2-(7H-dibenzo[a,g]carbazol-7-yl)-ethoxy]ethyl chloroformate, for amino acids determination in Saussurea involucrate and Artemisia capillaris Thunb using high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection any/electrospray ionization source. Biomed.Chromatogr. 2011;25(6):689-696. View Abstract
- Li XW, Guo ZT, Zhao Y, et al. Chemical constituents from Saussurea cordifolia. Phytochemistry 2010;71(5-6):682-687. View Abstract
- Lin YC, Hung CM, Tsai JC, et al. Hispidulin potently inhibits human glioblastoma multiforme cells through activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). J Agric.Food Chem. 9-8-2010;58(17):9511-9517. View Abstract
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- Nguyen DT, Gopfert JC, Ikezawa N, et al. Biochemical conservation and evolution of germacrene A oxidase in asteraceae. J Biol.Chem. 5-28-2010;285(22):16588-16598. View Abstract
- Qiu J, Xue X, Chen F, et al. Quality evaluation of snow lotus (Saussurea): quantitative chemical analysis and antioxidant activity assessment. Plant Cell Rep. 2010;29(12):1325-1337. View Abstract
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- Way TD, Lee JC, Kuo DH, et al. Inhibition of epidermal growth factor receptor signaling by Saussurea involucrata, a rare traditional Chinese medicinal herb, in human hormone-resistant prostate cancer PC-3 cells. J Agric.Food Chem. 3-24-2010;58(6):3356-3365. View Abstract
- Yang JL, Wang R, Liu LL, et al. Phytochemicals and biological activities of Saussurea species. J Asian Nat.Prod.Res 2010;12(2):162-175. View Abstract
- Yi T, Zhao ZZ, Yu ZL, et al. Comparison of the anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects of three medicinal plants known as “Snow Lotus” herb in traditional Uighur and Tibetan medicines. J Ethnopharmacol. 3-24-2010;128(2):405-411. View Abstract
- Yoo JH, Lee HJ, Kang K, et al. Lignans inhibit cell growth via regulation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2010;48(8-9):2247-2252. View Abstract
- Zhao Q, Yokozawa T, Yamabe N, et al. Kangen-karyu improves memory deficit caused by aging through normalization of neuro-plasticity-related signaling system and VEGF system in thsignaling system and VEGF system in the brain. J Ethnopharmacol. 9-15-2010;131(2):377-385. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.