Daikenchuto
A constipation remedy

I constantly keep an eye open for clinical research on a new possible constipation remedy.

If there is a new constipation remedy that is being investigated, I want to know about it and share it with you on this website.

Thanks to the internet, the medicinal plant tradition from the different continents is opening up and being shared widely. Research publications can be consulted by all of us in English language through specialized databases.

Constipation remedy : daikenchuto

It is while browsing through such a database that I stumbled upon daikenchuto.


What is daikenchuto?

Daikenchuto is a Japanese herbal medicine traditionally used for different types of gut issues. It is composed of the following herbs:

  • Zanthoxylum fruit (Zanthoxylum piperitum), also called Szechuan  peppercorns or pepper, - 20%
  • Dried ginger root - 50%
  • Ginseng root - 30%

Studies have shown that it improves intestinal transit and blood flow around the gut.

The blood flow aspect is interesting, and likely coming primarily from zanthoxylum which is a circulatory plant (ginger too).

By bringing more blood around the gut, the smooth muscles function better and transit is rebalanced. This is what, in my mind, makes daikenchuto different from the other herbal constipation remedy tools.


Daikenchuto as a constipation remedy

Here is what the clinical studies say. 

Daikenchuto enhances gastrointestinal motility(1)(2), making the smooth muscles of the gut contract better and thus enhancing peristalsis. This, by itself, is an anti-constipation property.

Daikenchuto increases intestinal blood flow of the superior mesenteric artery, without increasing cardiac output (i.e. without making the heart pump stronger/faster)(3)(4). That artery supplies the intestine and two-thirds of the transverse colon. 

Daikenchuto increases gastrointestinal hormone secretion (motilin, somatostatin)(5). Motilin plays a key role in gastrointestinal motility and stimulate the production of pepsin, a digestive enzyme necessary to process proteins(5).

Wikipedia tells us that « Motilin is also called the "Housekeeper of the gut" because it improves peristalsis in the small intestine and clears out the gut to prepare for the next meal ». Improving this function is very important if you suffer from chronic constipation.

If you take those 3 effects together, daikenchuto seems to deliver a nice combination of anti-constipation effects and makes it an ideal candidate as a constipation remedy.


How to prepare daikenchuto 

I am not exactly sure where to buy daikenchuto. My traditional sources on the internet do not provide it. So instead of buying it from an unknown merchant, here is how I would prepare this mix myself.

Powder version

A powder is the traditional form of preparation. First, you need to buy:

  • Ginseng root, powdered
  • Ginger root, powdered
  • Szechuan peppercorn or pepper, powdered

You can buy those three herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Mix the powders, using the following proportions :

  • 50% Ginseng
  • 30% Ginger
  • 20% Szechuan peppercorn 

Tsumura, a company making daikenchuto capsules, recommends the following doses:

“The usual adult dose is 15.0 grams/day orally in 2 or 3 divided doses before or between meals. The dosage may be adjusted according to the patient's age and body weight, and symptoms.” This amounts to 5 grams per dose. 

The studies below also use 5 grams per dose. This seems to be a good starting point, 2 times per day. I recommend you take it before meals upon an empty stomach. I would not take the mix in the evening as ginseng can be a little too energizing.

Tincture version

Since it is hard to find a tincture of Szechuan pepper (unless you make it yourself), I suggest a slightly different version, using a tincture of Prickly ash bark instead, a plant in the Zanthoxylum family.

First, you need to buy: 

  • Alcoholic tincture of Ginseng root
  • Alcoholic tincture of Ginger root
  • Alcoholic tincture of Prickly ash bark

Those three can be bought at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Since Prickly ash bark is more potent than Szechuan peppercorn, I suggest to use a smaller proportion. Mix the tinctures in one bottle, using the following proportions (same as before):

  • 50% ginseng
  • 40% ginger
  • 10% prickly ash

In terms of dosage, I would suggest the following : start with 50 drops of the mix before meals, in the morning and mid-day upon an empty stomach, in a little water. Do not take in the evening.

Whether we are talking about the powder or tincture version, take the plants for at least 2 weeks before drawing any conclusion.


Feedback please...

Dainekchuto is one constipation remedy that I have yet to try in my clinic. I actually stumbled upon it fairly recently, and I am quite excited to give it a try with some of my clients.

If you decide to give this a try (or my modified version with Prickly ash), I would appreciate if you could post a comment at the end of the article letting all of us know whether this provided relief.


References

(1) Kawasaki N, Nakada K, Nakayoshi T, Furukawa Y, Suzuki Y, Hanyu N, Yanaga K. Effect of Dai-kenchu-to on gastrointestinal motility based on differences in the site and timing of administration. Dig Dis Sci. 2007 Oct;52(10):2684-94. 

(2) Kawasaki N, Nakada K, Suzuki Y, Furukawa Y, Hanyu N, Kashiwagi H. Effect of Dai-kenchu-to on gastrointestinal motility and gastric emptying. Int J Surg. 2009 Jun;7(3):218-22.

(3) Takayama S, Seki T, Watanabe M, Monma Y, Sugita N, Konno S, Iwasaki K, Takeda T, Yambe T, Yoshizawa M, Nitta S, Yaegashi N. The herbal medicine Daikenchuto increases blood flow in the superior mesenteric artery. Tohoku J Exp Med. 2009 Dec;219(4):319-30.

(4) Takayama S, Seki T, Watanabe M, Takashima S, Sugita N, Konno S, Iwasaki K, Yambe T, Yoshizawa M, Nitta S, Maruyama S, Yaegashi N. The effect of warming of the abdomen and of herbal medicine on superior mesenteric artery blood flow – a pilot study. Forsch Komplementmed. 2010;17(4):195-201.

(5) Nagano T, Itoh H, Takeyama M. Effect of Dai-kenchu-to on levels of 3 brain-gut peptides (motilin, gastrin and somatostatin) in human plasma. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999 Oct;22(10):1131-3.


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