The root herb is called Radix Clematidis in western herbal medicine. Its scientific name is Clematis chinensis or Clematis mandshurica). It is known to work very well in combination with herbs such as Achyranthis and Puerariae for alleviating muscle and joint damage. Such mixed herbal formulas provide a variety of interactive benefits, including relieving pain, relaxing sore and tight muscles, and reducing inflammation and swelling.
Clematidis in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Radix Clematidis is known as Wei Ling Xian in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In TCM it is described as a salty, acrid, warm, slightly bitter herb. It is used to expel Wind-Damp (i.e., eliminate pathogenic wind) and to reduce swelling and painful lumps.
These actions of Clematidis are the basis for its use in TCM in treating a variety of painful conditions. These include headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, strokes, gout, and lower back pain. Its importance for expelling Wind-Damp also underscores its value for enhancing the functions of bladder and liver channels and for promoting circulation.
Research on Clematidis
Plant chemists have discovered a variety of natural substances in this herb that are characteristic of members of the buttercup family. One of the primary ingredients is a substance called oleanolic acid, which is also found in a few other herbs. Studies on this substance show that it is active toward protecting the liver, inhibiting tumor growth, and reducing viral growth.
These properties are the major activities cited by a South Korean healthcare company in seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Clematidis as a dietary supplement ingredient.
Research on how Clematidis works have begun to show that the root extracts inhibit a key protein complex, called NF-kappaB (NF-kB), which is involved in human cellular responses to stress, inflammatory hormones, UV light, autoimmune diseases, infection, and cancerous tumors.
Skin Care Research
Research on Clematidis at the Chonbuk National University Medical School in Jeonbuk, Japan, found a particularly remarkable activity of the herb on human dermal fibroblasts. These are the cells that are responsible for building connective tissue that helps skin to recover from injury. Such rebuilt connective tissue allows the outer skin cells to join together for the formation of the new top layer of skin as it is repaired.
When UV light damages skin, one of its first responses is the activation of NF-kB. The activation of NF-kB, in turn, suppresses key enzymes that are important for repairing the UV-induced damage. However, the Japanese study showed that pretreatment of dermal fibroblasts with Clematidis extract completely blocked the activation of NF-kB.
This research underscores the value of Clematidis extracts for preventing and treating skin photoaging caused by exposure to UV light.
A common issue with aging skin is the formation of dark spots that come from the accumulation of the pigment melanin in cells called melanocytes. Recently a survey of 90 herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine found that extracts of Clematidis are one of the two most effective herbal treatments for enhancing melanocyte depigmentation.