Eucommia bark has been used by herbalists for more than 2500 years specifically for its ability to support depleted kidney energy, a symptom often talked about in Ancient Chinese Medicine. In the ancient art of Chinese medicine, the kidneys are responsible for our vitality, or how much energy we have on a day-to-day basis. If one has depleted kidney chi, then one will feel fatigued, unmotivated and lethargic.
The bark of the Eucommia plant is also one of the most popular herbs used in China to prevent miscarriage and stabilise pregnancies.
The herb’s name comes from the Chinese rubber tree (Eucommia ulmoides), being collected from the bark of trees that are more than 10 years old.
Traditionally Eucommia is used in the treatment of:
- Adrenal exhaustion
- A tonic to the skeletal system
- A tonic to support health tendons and ligaments
- Liver tonic
- Poor libido
- Immune tonic
- Promotes longevity
- Kidney tonic
What is Eucommia Bark Used For?
Eucommia has been used in Eastern traditional medicine for thousands of years to support the endocrine system, promote kidney health, support a healthy pregnancy and strengthen the body’s bones and muscles.
In the West, however, Eucommia bark has been used as a herb to help lower blood pressure as well as to slow down the effects of various cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, as well as being used in the management of diabetes.
Besides these, Eucommia is used to support the treatment of sexual dysfunction, different types of cancers, metabolic syndrome, and neurological diseases.
So let’s take a deep dive into how Eucommia might be useful if you have been diagnosed with kidney disease or one of the major diseases that can lead to a dysfunction of the kidneys.
High Blood Pressure
A human clinical trial conducted in 2018 measured what happens if someone is to drink 2g of Eucommia tea twice a day over a 4-week period.
The results of this study showed that the participants drinking the Eucommia tea had reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure, it also reduced cholesterol and improved lipid ratios, as well as improved kidney function by lowering urea and creatinine levels in those drinking the tea. It also decreased inflammatory markers.
The researchers commented that Eucommia is safe to be used as an adjuvant therapy due to its beneficial antihypertensive, dyslipidemic, nephroprotective, hematopoietic, and anti-inflammatory effects as well as estrogenic-like effects.
Another small clinical trial was conducted on 30 healthy adults with a Blood Pressure between 120-160/80-100 mmHg who consumed 1g of the Eucommia extract three times daily for two weeks with 24-hour blood pressure monitoring at baseline and after the two weeks taking the Eucommia extract.
The results from this study showed that those who drank the Eucommia extract had lower blood pressure by the end of the two-week trial with no side effects.
A rat-based study published in 2021 found that the extract of Eucommia helped to significantly lower blood pressure in salt-sensitive induced hypertensive rats by improving the rat’s endogenous production of nitric oxide (a potent vasodilator) and improved the rat’s renal hemodynamics (meaning more blood can safely pass through the kidneys) leading to a lowering of blood pressure.
Eucommia extract could also prove to be helpful to those suffering from both types I and II diabetes, as well as possibly being useful in the prevention of complications caused by diabetes. Research has shown that Eucommia may be useful in reducing insulin resistance, a condition closely related to Type II diabetes.
Mouse studies found that mice given a treatment of Eucommia for six weeks had lower blood sugar levels.
With regards to its effects on diabetes-related complications, there have been improvements seen in the levels of blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and an improvement in renal fibrosis – which is a measurement of kidney damage.
Diabetic Neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes where the nerves become damaged due to elevated blood glucose levels and where the healthy function of the nerves becomes altered causing pain and numbness or a reduction in organ function depending upon if you have peripheral neuropathy or autonomic neuropathy.
Up to 50% of people with diabetes suffer from peripheral neuropathy and more than 30% of people with diabetes have autonomic neuropathy.
Symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy may include a loss of sensation in one’s feet and legs while others may experience a burning or shooting pain in their lower legs.
Automatic neuropathy can lead to issues with how one’s organs function and may cause symptoms such as changes to heart rate and blood pressure, changes in digestive function, and urinary challenges.
Studies showed that an oral administration of Eucommia given to diabetic rats for 20 days not only decreased the plasma levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine but also improved renal fibrosis and reduced the symptoms that occur in diabetic neuropathy.
Another mouse study done on mice with polycystic ovarian syndrome with accompanying insulin resistance found that taking the extract of Eucommia improved glucose and lipid (fat) metabolism and improved the secretion of sex hormones. The extract also regulates the hypothalamus-pituitary ovary (HPO) axis function resulting in a correction in insulin resistance, healthier cholesterol levels and the ability to help with weight loss.
Several studies have shown that an extract of Eucommia has the ability to prevent insulin resistance and hence the onset of Type II diabetes from occurring, making it a great adjunct for anyone with insulin resistance wanting to prevent the onset of Type II diabetes.
Eucommia has also shown to have kidney protective properties about it, making it an obvious standout for those diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease.
A rat study published in late 2021 showed that an extract of Eucommia could prevent kidney disease caused by inflammation, elevated uric acid levels and other metabolic diseases such as diabetes and insulin resistance.
Hyperuricemia (serum UA level > 6 mg/dL) is currently one of the most common metabolic diseases, caused by excessive serum lipid levels or reduced renal excretion. Chronically elevated uric acid levels lead to the deposition of urate crystals in the joints and kidneys, which can induce inflammation and cause conditions such as gout, arthritis and kidney stones which may all accelerate the progression of chronic kidney disease, obesity, atherosclerotic heart disease.
At present, the drugs used for the treatment of hyperuricemia and UA-induced inflammation are primarily anti-inflammatory drugs that are known to cause severe gastrointestinal irritation. Severe adverse reactions, such as bone marrow suppression and nephrotoxicity, are a few of their other side effects. The flavonoids found in Eucommia have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties as well as the ability to lower uric acid levels. This study went on to suggest that extracts of Eucommia are useful in preventing kidney injury and reducing inflammation within the kidneys and safer than most of the drugs used to treat similar conditions on the market.
Another study published last year in 2021 found that the extract of Eucommia was able to prevent kidney injury in rats from high purine diets. Diets of overloaded purine-rich foods are one of the causes of renal lesions.
The results of the study found that Eucommia ulmoides extract could ameliorate renal interstitial fibrosis and may be involved in the regulation of the extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation enzyme system, promotion of the expression of E-cadherin (a tumour suppressing glycoprotein), as well as being able to suppress the production of inflammatory cytokines.
The results provide a significant implication for the utilization of Eucommia extract as a functional food to enhance renal function and improve renal injury caused by high purine diets.
Eucommia has also been shown to prevent kidney injury in rats exposed to cadmium, a toxic heavy metal often seen in smokers and those who are exposed to excessive car fumes and pollution.
A study published in 2012 showed that the extract of Eucommia barks protects against cadmium-induced oxidative damage in rat kidneys. Two compounds found in Eucommia bark extract, geniposide and genipin, which were identified both in serum and in kidney tissue, showed an inhibitory effect on nitric oxide production. This study provides biological evidence supporting the usefulness of Euccomia bark against cadmium-induced toxic oxidative stress in rat kidney tissue.
Another way in which Eucommia is beneficial to an aging population is its ability to improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. This is arthritis which is found in the body’s bones specifically.
It has been shown in a study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2015 that patients who consumed Eucommia bark extract slowed the progression of osteoarthritis, most likely due to the herb’s ability to reduce systemic inflammation as well as its ability to prevent the breakdown of cartilage in the bones.
Safety and Contraindications
There are no known contraindications with Eucommia bark. If you are on blood thinners or blood pressure medication, please check with your prescribing doctor if Eucommia bark is appropriate for you.
How do I take Eucommia?
Eucommia is available as a dried and powdered herb, I really like the Superfeats Eucommia extract, it is the one I use.
I add ½ a tsp of their dried powder to a hot chocolate with almond milk and it tastes delicious!
Generally, doses of up to 4gs of the dried herb per day were found to be safe.
So there you have it, the amazing herb that is Eucommia. We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you did head on over to our Facebook page and leave us a comment or feel free to share this article with your friends and family and remember to always discuss any new herbal medicines or nutrients with your doctor, integrated practitioner or nephrologist before commencing them.