The Health Benefits of Eucommia

This herb may help lower blood pressure and prevent complications of diabetes

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Eucommia is an herb that comes from the Chinese rubber tree (Eucommia ulmoides). It has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to support the endocrine system, improve kidney health, and strengthen bones and muscles. It is also said to promote weight loss, prevent osteoporosis, and enhance heart health.

While alternative medicine practitioners turn to eucommia to increase vitality and promote longevity, in the West, it is mostly known as a supplement to lower blood pressure.

In addition to capsules, eucommia is also sold in extract, tea, and dry forms.

Eucommia bark

BJI / Blue Jean Images / Getty Images

Health Benefits

The herb, also known as du zhong, is a rich source of antioxidants, lignans, and isoflavonoids—naturally occurring chemicals with hormone-like effects. 

Eucommia has been used and studied for a variety of uses including sexual dysfunction, cancer, metabolic syndrome, neurological diseases, and more. To date, however, 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 this herb.

High Blood Pressure

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

For the study, 30 healthy adults took 1 gram (g) of eucommia three times daily for two weeks. At the study's end, the herb was shown to lower blood pressure by an average of 7.5/3.9 mmHg compared to the control group.

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 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).

Additional research on humans is needed to draw conclusions as to whether or not the same would occur.

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 the herb 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 (BUN) and creatinine and improved renal fibrosis, a measure of kidney damage. A 2019 study found eucommia reversed erectile dysfunction in diabetic rats.

However, again here, 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 in people.

Possible Side Effects

Eucommia has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries with limited reports of side effects. However, one therapeutic trial of eucommia documented possible concerns 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, but people taking the following medications should not use eucommia unless under doctor supervision:

  • Diabetes medications
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Anticoagulants
  • Antiplatelets
  • Thrombolytics

In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns that herbal products may be contaminated with toxic compounds, heavy metals, pesticides, or microorganisms. Manufacturing errors, in which one herb is mistakenly replaced with another, have also occurred.

Dosage and Preparation

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

They may contain extracts from the leaf, stem, bark, and flower of the plant. You may want to seek out options that are predominantly or solely made from the bark, as most of the research done on this herb focuses on that component.

There is no standard recommended dose of eucommia. In research studies, doses of up to 3 g of eucommia a day were found to be safe and well tolerated. Manufacturers typically recommend taking three to five 100 milligram (mg) supplements three times a day. Always follow directions on the supplement label. 

Eucommia also comes as a tea made from the leaves and bark of the eucommia tree. Eucommia tea is said to taste slightly bitter and slightly sweet, and it is commonly served with milk and sugar. Steep loose herbs or teabags in hot water for 2 to 4 minutes.

Store supplements at room temperature away from light, such as in a kitchen cabinet, unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer.

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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