Bidens: A Popular Remedy Escapes Notice of Western Practitioners

Bidens bipinnata is listed in Oriental Materia Medica among the herbs that are cooling and resolve the surface. It is reported to have the functions of removing wind-dampness, dispersing stagnant blood, and invigorating blood. This categorization of this herb-along with those usually indicated for resolving the surface-appears to be in error, as there is a different section of the Materia Medica reserved for herbs that have the properties listed for this species of bidens, namely the herbs for removing wind-dampness (anti-rheumatics). Applications of the herb in Oriental Materia Medica include rheumatoid arthritis, sprain, insect and scorpion sting, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis, acute nephritis, stomach ache, and sore throat. In sum, it has the same uses as Bidens pilosa. The substitute Desmodium species are similar to the standard herb known either as hulucha or longshehuang (Desmodium triquetri), which is applied to treat common cold, sore throat, enteritis, dysentery, jaundice, rheumatic arthralgia, and other disorders; the overlap in applications between bidens and desmodium is evident.

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