Chinese Name: Chuanxiong
Medical Name: Rhizoma Ligustici Chuanxiong
Latin Name: Ligusticum chuanxiong (S.H.Qiu. et al), Ligusticum sinense Oliv., or Ligusticum chinensis (H), a perennial plant, of the family Umbelliferae
Origin: Rhizome dug in late May, soaked and sliced.
Taste: Pungent

Quotes from Chinese historical sources:

THE HERBAL CLASSIC OF SHEN-NONG: "Useful against headache due to the invasion of pathogenic wind into the brain, arthralgia due to cold, clonic spasms of muscles, wounds due to sharp objects and sterility due to amenorrhea."

THE COMPENDIUM OF MATERIA MEDICA: "Chuanxiong is an herb for vital energy in the blood, and is applicable to syndromes of qi stagnation because it is so pungent in taste as to be dispersing. In the book 'Zuo's Historical Records of the Spring and Autumn Period' (770 - 476 BC) it is referred to as maiju and used to treat abdominal ailments caused by freshwater fish. For quick effects in the treatment of diarrhea, it is always used with two other ingredients. In cases of pain after recovery from dysentery with bloody stools resulting from loss of yin and stagnation of qi, the addition of chuanxiong to the recipe as an adjuvant will activate the flow of qi and regulate the circulation of the blood to provide prompt relief."

OPINIONS ON THE PROPERTIES OF HERBS:"Chuanxiong is an herb for qi in the blood, which can regulate menstruation in the lower part of the body and resolve stagnation in the middle part, with its potency going upward to the head and eyes. It has been used as a conductant for Chinese angelica, which is not only effective in treating blood troubles, but also excellent for the treatment of qi disorders. Pungent in taste, positive in nature, quite migratory in property and lacking any stagnation or viscosity, it can dispel all types of pathogenic wind and regulate the flow of all types of qi."

Western Research:

Thromb Res 2001 Oct 1;104(1):15-28
Specific inhibiting characteristics of tetramethylpyrazine, one of the active ingredients of the Chinese herbal medicine 'Chuanxiong,' on platelet thrombus formation under high shear rates.
Li M, Handa S, Ikeda Y, Goto S.
Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Tokai University School of Medicine, 143 Shimokasuya, Isehara, Kanagawa, Japan.
Tetramethylpyrazine, one of the active ingredients of the Chinese herbal medicine Chuanxiong, inhibits shear-induced platelet aggregation under high shear rates (ie under conditions resembling those in major arteries).

J Pharm Pharmacol 1997 Nov;49(11):1162-4
The development of nao li shen and its clinical application.
Lu SL, Liu X, Wang JL, Ying Q, Hu SG, Hu PP, Zhu GP, Zhen HW, Bai YT, Wang Q.
Department of Neurosurgery, Naval Hospital, Shanghai, China. LuSL@public.sta.net.cn
The traditional Chinese medicine Nao Li Shen (containing ginseng, gastrodia tuber, chuanxiong rhizome and red sage root) was tested in Mongolian gerbils and shown to increase tolerance to ischaemia and anoxia. Clinical use of the preparation resulted in improvement in 96% of 202 patients, as judged by right cerebral blood flow, TCD and CT examination.

J Tradit Chin Med 1995 Sep;15(3):183-4
Treatment of migraine with modified chuanxiong powder--a report of 30 cases.
Ju J, Du J.
Yu Huang Ding Hospital, Yantai, Shandong Province.
[No abstract available.]

Chin Med J (Engl) 1992 Oct;105(10):870-3
Ischemic stroke treated with Ligusticum chuanxiong.
Chen KJ, Chen K.
Xiyuan Hospital, China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing.
Ligusticum Chuanxiong and its effective components were studied in the treatment of ischemic stroke. The effects were the same as or better than those of the controls. They could improve brain microcirculation through inhibiting thrombus formation and platelet aggregation as well as blood viscosity.

Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi 1992 Feb;12(2):71-3, 67
Comparative study of chuanxiong and dextran 40 in the treatment of acute cerebral infarction[Article in Chinese]
Chen DR.
Department of Neurology, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical College.
The results showed that the total therapeutic efficacy rate in chuanxiong group and in dextran 40 group were 86.6% and 62.8% respectively. The effect of chuanxiong on the treatment of acute cerebral infarction was superior to low molecular weight dextran.