The Health Benefits of Eucommia

How Eucommia Lowers Blood Pressure and Prevents Diabetic Complications

woman getting her blood pressure checked

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Eucommia is an herb used in alternative medicine to increase vitality and promote longevity. Also known as du Zhong, the supplement comes from the Chinese rubber tree (Eucommia ulmoides) and has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to support the endocrine system, improve kidney health, and strengthen bones and muscles. It is also said to promote weight loss, prevent osteoporosis, offer anti-aging benefits, and enhance heart health.

Mostly known in the West as a supplement to lower blood pressure, Eucommia has been studied in the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, sexual dysfunction, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and neurological diseases. The herb is a rich source of antioxidants, lignans, and isoflavonoids, naturally occurring chemicals with hormone-like effects.

Health Benefits

While several studies show the potential therapeutic benefits of Eucommia, to date, most of the research is limited to animal testing and small clinical trials. Here's a closer look at the science behind the potential health benefits of Eucommia.

High Blood Pressure

Eucommia may help fight high blood pressure (a condition also known as hypertension), according to a small study published in Alternative Medicine Review in 2011.

For the study, 30 healthy adults took 1 gram of Eucommia three times daily for two weeks. At the study's end, Eucommia was shown to lower blood pressure by an average of 7.5/3.9 mmHg.

The study authors determined that compounds in Eucommia may reduce blood pressure by blocking the action of epinephrine, a hormone known to raise blood pressure when released into the bloodstream.

Some animal-based research indicates that the lignans found in Eucommia may also help with blood pressure management. A rat-based study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2013, which found that lignans extracted from Eucommia may help prevent hypertension-related cardiac remodeling (i.e., changes to the structure of the heart induced by damage to cardiac muscle).

Arthritis

Several preliminary studies show that Eucommia may offer relief of osteoarthritis. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology demonstrated that treatment with Eucommia helped slow the progression of osteoarthritis, in part by reducing inflammation and inhibiting the breakdown of cartilage.

The research, however, is limited to animal studies. More research and clinical trials in humans are needed before recommending Eucommia for the prevention or treatment of arthritis.

Diabetes

Eucommia shows promise in the treatment of diabetes and the prevention of diabetic complications. Early studies on diabetic mice found six weeks of treatment with Eucommia significantly lowered the animals' blood sugar levels. More recent research shows Eucommia may help reduce insulin resistance, a condition closely linked to diabetes and may fight obesity.

Several studies have explored Eucommia and the prevention of diabetes-related complications. For instance, a 2016 study on diabetic rats found the herb decreased levels of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine and improved renal fibrosis, a measure of kidney damage. A 2019 study found Eucommia reversed erectile dysfunction in diabetic rats.

However, the research is limited to animal studies. More research and clinical trials are needed before Eucommia can be recommended for the treatment of diabetes and the prevention of diabetic complications.

Possible Side Effects

Eucommia has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries with limited reports of side effects. One therapeutic trial of Eucommia documented possible side effects including moderately severe headache, dizziness, edema, and the onset of a cold.

Little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of Eucommia. There are no documented drug interactions, however, people who are taking medications to treat diabetes or high blood pressure or anticoagulant, antiplatelet, or thrombolytic medications should not use Eucommia unless under doctor supervision.

In addition, the National Institutes of Health and Human Services warns that herbal products may be contaminated with toxic compounds, heavy metals, pesticides, or microorganisms and manufacturing errors, in which one herb is mistakenly replaced with another, have occurred.

Dosage and Preparation

Dietary supplements containing Eucommia extract are sold in some natural-foods stores and stores specializing in herbal products as well as online as Eucommia.

Eucommia is sold in capsules, as an extract, in herbal tea preparations, and as dried herb. Dietary supplements may contain extracts from the leaf, stem, bark, and flower of the plant, but most of the research focuses on Eucommia bark, commonly called du Zhong.

It is recommended to store supplements at room temperature away from light, such as in a kitchen cabinet unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer.

Other Questions

What Does Eucommia Tea Taste Like?

Eucommia tea is made from the leaves and bark of the Eucommia tree. When steeped in hot water, Eucommia is said to taste slightly bitter and slightly sweet.

A Word From Verywell

Eucommia has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, but there is little scientific evidence to support its use in the treatment or prevention of any disease. While preliminary research shows promise, more clinical trials are needed before it can be recommended. If you're considering using Eucommia to treat any chronic health condition, talk to your doctor first.

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  11. NIH: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine. Updated April 29, 2019.

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