The Benefits of Saussurea

Saussurea costus, stem with flower clusters

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Saussurea is a plant long used in certain systems of alternative medicine, including Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. Also known as snow lotus, it's available in dietary supplement form. Often used for its anti-inflammatory effects, saussurea is said to aid in the treatment of many health conditions.

Several species of saussurea are used in herbal medicine, including Saussurea lappa and Saussurea costus.


In alternative medicine, saussurea is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

In addition, saussurea is said to ease muscle spasms, boost brain health, protect against ulcers, enhance liver health, and stimulate digestion, according to some alternative medicine practitioners.


So far, most of the findings on saussurea's potential health benefits come from preliminary studies on animals and in test tubes. For instance, preliminary research shows that extract of Saussurea lappa may act as an antimicrobial (i.e., a substance that destroys or suppresses the growth of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi).

While clinical trials testing saussurea's health effects in humans are currently lacking, preliminary studies also suggest that the herb may offer several other health benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research on saussurea:

Heart Health

Several studies indicate that saussurea may enhance heart health. These studies include a report published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research in 2013, which tested Saussurea lappa's effects on rats and determined that the herb may help fight myocardial injury. (Marked by damage to the heart's muscular tissue, myocardial injury is closely associated with heart attacks.)


Saussurea shows promise for protection against cancer. In a study published in Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin in 2004, for example, tests on human gastric cancer cells revealed that Saussurea lappa may help suppress the growth of tumors and induce apoptosis (a type of programmed cell death essential for stopping the proliferation of cancer cells).

Liver Health

Saussurea lappa may be beneficial in the treatment of liver disorders, according to an animal-based study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2010. In tests on mice, the study's authors found that treatment with Saussurea lappa helped reduce the liver damage associated with hepatitis.


Saussurea contains a substance known as aristolochic acid, which is a compound shown to cause kidney damage and act as a carcinogen. Although aristolochic-acid-containing products are banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it's important to ensure that any saussurea product you consume has been verified as free of aristolochic acid.

In addition, some individuals (especially those allergic to plants like ragweed, chrysanthemums, and marigolds) may experience allergic reactions upon consuming saussurea.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.


Several other natural remedies may help strengthen your defense against heart disease and cancer. These remedies include garlic, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, vitamin D, and antioxidants (such as anthocyanins and resveratrol).

Since stress is linked to heart disease and cancer, it's essential to practice stress management on a regular basis. Certain lifestyle practices (such as maintaining a healthy weight, getting sufficient sleep, and exercising regularly) may also help shield you from heart disease and cancer.

Where to Find It

Available for purchase online, dietary supplements and teas containing saussurea are sold in some natural-foods stores and stores specializing in herbal products.

A Word From Verywell

Due to the limited research (and concerns about possible toxicity from aristolochic acid), it's too soon to recommend saussurea as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it, make sure to consult your primary care provider first.

The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstance or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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