Chinese medicine Herb of the Month: Cang Er Zi

Cang Er Zi, a natural approach to headaches related to allergies and colds.

Cang er zi, also known as xanthium seed, is on my go to list for conditions related to allergies and colds. This widely used herb is combined within an herbal formula where its prime use is for rhinitis and sinusitis: nasal congestion, itching and sneezing. Xanthium seed is also used for sharp stabbing occipital headaches related to colds.

Those familiar with the cocklebur may find this herb a nuisance as it grows freely in fields and sticks to one’s clothing, skin and fur of animals. The variety used in Chinese medicine, xanthium strumarium, is slightly different in chemical composition than the Western botanical, xanthium spinosum which we see in the United States. Both immature seeds are considered toxic. However the mature seed of xanthium strumarium when prepared for medicinal use loses this aspect.

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