Observations about the medicinal effects and administration of Bupleurum may grace the pages of ancient tomes, but the plant has made quite a splash in modern medical literature since the 1980s as well. More than 75 clinical studies on the pharmacological actions of Bupleurum root have been conducted at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the University of California and other institutions, and published in peer-reviewed journals, such as Cancer Letters and the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. Of particular interest to scientists is a group of alkaloids isolated from the root collectively known as saikosaponins. In short, these compounds appear to diffuse biological processes that produce inflammation in the body, increase immune function and stimulate the expression of certain genes that suppress tumor growth and cause cancer cells to die. As an added bonus, some researchers suspect that Bupleurum compounds may directly destroy invading bacteria and viruses.
Radix Bupleuri, which is characterized by a wide spectrum of biological and pharmacological effects, has been used as a famous traditional Chinese medicinal herb with a history of medical use in China. According to TCM theory, Radix Bupleuri is thought to regulate the exterior and interior metabolisms, disperse evil heat from superficies, sooth the liver, and promote yang and qi . Radix Bupleuri was initially recorded in Shennong Bencao Jing, a famous monograph of traditional Chinese medicine written in China in 200 AD . According to a record of traditional Chinese medicine dated 2000 years ago, Radix Bupleuri had mainly been used for the treatment of mouth-bitterness, throat-drying, and eyes-dazzling. In other monographs of Materia Medica, such as Jin Kui Yao Lue, Kaibao Bencao, Bencao Gangmu, and Xinbian Bencao, this plant was described to be used for the treatment of common cold with fever, influenza, hepatitis, malaria, menoxenia, and hyperlipidemia . Currently, Radix Bupleuri exerts other pharmacological effects, such as balancing different organs and energies within the body, strengthening the action of the digestive tract, improving liver and circulatory system function, and relieving liver tension . Therefore, it is also used as a popular tonic herb in China. In Korea and Japan, this plant is commonly used for the treatment of fever, pain, and inflammation associated with influenza and the common cold . In addition, this plant is also used as analgesics in the treatment of distending pain in the hypochondriac region of the chest and against amenorrhoea.