by Amy Myszko
Japanese knotweed, also known as Polygonum cuspidatum, is considered by many to be a terrible, invasive weed and nothing more. However, this tenacious plant is frequently used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is a heavily researched botanical with potentially exciting medicinal properties. Health benefits may include pain relief, cardiovascular support, gastrointestinal health, and use as an an anti-inflammatory and the treatment of Lyme disease co-infections.
Japanese Knotweed and Pain Relief
In animal trials, Japanese knotweed shows great potential as an effective topical pain reliever. Due to its overall anti-inflammatory effects, knotweed may have powerful pain-relieving properties, both internally and topically. Polygonum cuspidatum is now being included in topical pain formulas together with other beneficial anti-inflammatory herbs such as hemp (or with CBD).
Resveratrol in Japanese Knotweed
Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that shows promise in helping to mitigate the effects of oxidative damage to the tissues caused by pollution, stress and other aspects of modern life. You may have heard of the antioxidant effects of wine or grape seeds. Well, resveratrol is the active constituent in grapes that provides this benefit. Japanese knotweed contains high quantities of the most biologically active form of resveratrol, called trans-resveratrol, which is quickly making it the preferred source for resveratrol in the holistic health market.
Polygonum Cuspidatum to Prevent Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
One important key for overall health is a decrease in damaging inflammation. Japanese knotweed shows promise in helping to treat diseases including many cancers and cardiovascular disorders, at least in part through the anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol. One recent study of resveratrol in Japan demonstrated a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines (substances responsible for cardiovascular disease) as well as an increase in circulating T-cells and other protective immune factors, in subjects given resveratrol daily.
Breakthrough Treatment in Chronic Lyme Disease
Another major use for Japanese knotweed root is in the treatment of chronic Lyme disease. For anyone unfamiliar with this difficult-to-diagnose and debilitating disease, the Lyme infection is only one of a host of chronic, tick-borne infections that can take a massive toll on physical health. Knotweed shows exciting potential in treating a Lyme co-infection, Bartonella, by reducing the pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by this bacteria while healing and strengthening the endothelial tissues that are affected by the disease.
Tips for Using Japanese Knotweed
New to herbal medicine? There are many ways to incorporate Japanese knotweed into your daily routine. In Asia, it is a common spring green eaten steamed, sautéed or raw. Many herbal preparations now feature Japanese knotweed, including capsules, tinctures and teas. Another amazing way to use Japanese knotweed is by absorbing the active components through the skin. CoSo Beauty, a leading retailer in the CBD, wellness and beauty markets, is developing a CBD pain patch that includes Polygonum cuspidatum as a key ingredient, so keep an eye out!
Amy Myszko, a Certified Clinical Herbalist, Certified Lactation Counselor and Licensed Lactation Care Provider, has been practicing herbalism and nutrition since 2007. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in lactation and is pursuing a career as a Holistic Lactation Therapist.