Rehmannia is a group of plants endemic to China. Herbalists use the Rehmannia plant (also known as Chinese Foxglove or Rehmanniae root) to make medicines used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Traditional Uses of Rehmannia
Like a lot of Chinese herbs, Rehmannia has been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years, despite not being popular in the western world.
Within Traditional Chinese Medicine, Rehmannia is one of the 50 most important herbs. It’s one of the most important herbs for treating disorders related to the adrenal glands and kidneys, in particular.
Herbalists and practitioners of Chinese medicine also use it to treat any number of medical conditions, including:
- Kidney disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Obesity, and
Most of these conditions are also associated with a “yin deficiency” in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
According to Chinese culture, yin and yang are two opposing forces in the body. When one of these forces are out of balance, it causes a range of health and wellness issues.
Rehmannia, much like a lot of Chinese herbal medicines, has a protective effect used to help restore a person’s yin.
Symptoms of a yin deficiency vary depending on the individual and the organ in question, but typically a person may experience:
Digestive issues – Bloating, loss of appetite, anemia, poor digestion, weakness.
Lungs – Respiratory issues, such as asthma, labored breathing, a weakened immune system.
Kidneys – Aches and pains in the back and knees, in particular, loss of hair, memory loss.
Heart – Poor circulation, heart palpitations, feeling “down.”
General symptoms – Anxiety, insomnia, muscle aches, weakness, feelings of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion, dry skin, allergies.
Clinical Trials and Scientific Evidence into the Effectiveness of Rehmannia
The use of Rehmannia to treat a range of health and wellness issues has been increasing across the U.S. and the western world in recent years.
With a long history in TCM, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence to back up the wellness benefits of it.
There have been some papers published online detailing clinical trials. One of the papers revealed some promising results;
In this paper, several patients who have rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and urticaria took Rehmannia orally.
They divided the patients into a controlled group and an uncontrolled treatment group.
They observed a “significant improvement” in 91% of these patients in the uncontrolled treatment group. While 67% in the controlled group also reported improvements.
Further trials on lab mice tested a range of other health conditions and to observe the effects.
A group of mice took steamed Rehmannia. The results were a reduction in the symptoms of stress and diabetic complications. There were also signs that the herb had an anti-inflammatory effect.
This is believed to be because a number of the compounds in Rehmannia affect the nervous and immune systems.
It’s still not known precisely which compounds. But as an adaptogen, Rehmannia falls into a familiar group of herbs that are all known to have similar effects.
Benefits of Adaptogens
Much of Rehmannia Glutinosa’s health benefits can be associated with it being an adaptogen.
Adaptogens are a group of plants that counteract the effects of stress in the body. They work by affecting the stress response in the body and changing the balance of hormones released when the body is under stress.
When we’re stressed, our bodies release a stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for weight gain, compromising our immune system, changing our blood sugar levels, and more.
When we’re able to better adapt to stress, we can perform better in almost every way, both physically and mentally.
This is why adaptogens, like Rehmannia, are also able to indirectly help relieve the symptoms of a wide range of health issues. It helps to back up the claims that Rehmannia can help with the broad range of health issues in TCM.
Why Rehmannia Is Effective for Anxiety and Insomnia
In a study carried out on animals, Rehmannia was given to a controlled group for 5 weeks. After this period, a series of behavioral tests and tissue samples were taken.
The results showed antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Among other positive results, there was a clear boost in levels of serotonin, one of the body’s natural “feel good” hormones and dopamine, a “pleasure” hormone.
Both of these improve how the nervous system works, and both have a direct impact on reducing feelings of anxiety, helping us reach a deep state of relaxation, and promotes better sleeping patterns.
How to Take Rehmannia
Rehmannia is traditionally prepared by steaming the root of the plant several times and drying it out.
It’s typically available in three forms; a tincture, capsule, or you can buy the dried root.
You can take it by ingesting it directly or drinking it with water. Traditionally people take it 2-3 times a day.
The appropriate dosage will depend on several factors. Such as the patient’s age, health, and the health condition they’re treating.
If you want to take Rehmannia, the best advice is to discuss your health condition with an herbal practitioner experienced with Rehmannia.
As Chinese supplements do not adhere to regulations, the quality can vary too. Do your due diligence regarding the quality of the supplements before buying them.
Possible Side Effects of Rehmannia
There have not been any serious side effects reported to date. When taken within the recommended dosage given by a healthcare practitioner or as directed on the supplement, side effects are rare.
Patients taking high doses have reported (higher doses than are in Be Serene or most common formulations):
- Heart palpitations
Pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and people with pre-existing digestive or immune issues and liver diseases do not take Rehmannia.
Rehmannia is a versatile herb with a wide range of wellness applications. It’s been a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and is particularly effective at treating the symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.
If you’re interested in using Rehmannia, you should always speak with a healthcare professional and act according to medical advice.
Eager to learn more about Rehmannia and other naturally healing plants? Read more on the Be Serene blog.