The Amur cork tree (Philodendron amurense) is named after the Amur River in northern China. The tree has a spreading growth habit and produces dark green leaves and dark blue berries. Its grayish, rough bark is a respected herbal remedy in the 5000-year-old healing system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to TCM, Amur bark, or Huangbai, is most effective when harvested during the Pure Brightness solar term of the Chinese calendar, which occurs in April.
Amur bark is available online and at health food stores as an extract, or as dried or raw sliced root. Modern scientists are studying the uses of Amur cork tree bark in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Basics, a condition known as “damp heat syndrome” can occur in the intestines. Damp heat refers to conditions which feature thick yellow mucus and discharge. Amur bark is a traditional Chinese remedy for damp heat in the intestines. TCM practitioners often use a combination of Amur bark, Pulsatilla root and other herbs to treat diarrhea and dysentery.
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes, and is often caused by hepatitis and other liver disorders. According to TCM, jaundice is a damp heat condition which responds to Amur bark treatment. Oriental wormwood is another TCM herbal remedy which combines well with Amur bark to relieve jaundice.
Traditional Chinese practitioners combine Amur bark with other herbs as a treatment for skin problems. According to TCM, damp heat syndrome can cause carbuncles, boils and eczema. Amur bark is sometimes ground into a powder with Scutellaria and talc for use as a topical remedy.
Cloudy or turbid urine is a symptom of a wide range of conditions, including prostatitis, urinary tract infection, vaginal discharge and kidney stones. According to TCM, a downward flow of damp heat in the body causes these disorders. Amur bark combines with Clematis stem, Plantain seed and other herbs in Chinese remedies for turbid urine conditions.
Traditional Chinese practitioners use Amur bark to treat symptoms related to yin deficiency. According to TCM, yin deficiency can cause fever, night sweats, nocturnal emissions and other “fire” symptoms. Practitioners combine Amur bark with Fructus gardenia, Anemarrhena and other herbs to correct yin deficiency.
In November 2011, researchers at the South Texas Veterans Health Care Systems in San Antonio, Texas began testing the use of Amur bark extract as a treatment for prostate cancer. The team of researchers, led by Professor Adanki Pratap Kumar of the University of Texas School of Medicine, is studying the effectiveness of the extract combined with radiation therapy. According to a UPI article, oncologist William “Trey” Jones, M.D. stated that Amur bark has not shown signs of toxicity, and that the remedy should not cause toxic side effects.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Basics states that individuals with “cold” or “weak” stomach or spleen conditions should not take Amur bark. These conditions include poor digestion and appetite loss. Talk to your doctor before you try any natural remedy, particularly if you have chronic health problems or are pregnant or nursing. A trained practitioner can guide you in the uses of Amur cork tree bark in Traditional Chinese Medicine.