Saussurea is used in traditional Chinese herbal medicines, as well as traditional medicine in Korean, Tibetan, Indian, Uighur, Pakistani, and Mongolian cultures.
The root, called costus root, is used to make a drug called aucklandia or mu xiang. In parts of Asia, the root is smoked in place of opium. It is also used as a spice and as incense, as well as to protect fabric from moths.
Extracts of costus, as well as many species of saussurea, are used to prevent muscle spasms, increase airflow in the lungs, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and protect the nerves and stomach.
Saussurea has been studied for its possible effects on arthritis, asthma, stomach problems, and parasites. However, reliable evidence supporting the use of saussurea for any medical condition is lacking at this time.

Related Terms

1,5-Dihydroxypinoresinol-4'-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 1alpha-hydroxy-2alpha,4alpha-guaicyl-3,7-dioxabicyclo[3.3.0]octane, 1beta,3beta-dihydroxyursa-9(11),12-diene-3-octadecanoate, 1beta-hydroxy arbusculin A, (+)-1-hydroxypinoresinol-1-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, (+)-1-hydroxypinoresinol-1-O-beta-D-glucoside, 1-hydroxy-(Z)-3-hexene-2,5-dione, 2,4-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-2-butenolide,3-hexene-2,5-dione, 2alpha-guaicyl-4-oxo-6alpha-catechyl-3,7-dioxabicyclo[3.3.0]octane, 2-methoxy-4-(2-propenyl)phenyl beta-D-glucoside, (2R,3S,4S)-4-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzyl)-2-(5-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-3-(hydroxymethyl)-tetrahydrofuran-3-ol, 3',5'-dimethoxy apigenin, 3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxyacetophenone, 3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxy-benzaldehyde, 3alpha,22alpha-diacetoxy-20beta,21alpha,29-trihydroxy-30-norolean-12-ene, 3alpha,22alpha-diacetoxy-20beta,21alpha-dihydroxy-29-palmityloxy-30-norolean-12-ene, 3alpha,22alpha-diacetoxy-21alpha,29-dihydroxy-20beta-methoxy-30-norolean-12-ene, 3alpha-(E)-caffeoyloxyolean-12-en-30-oic acid, 3alpha-(E)-coumaroyloxyolean-12-en-30-oic acid, 3alpha-hydroxy-5,6-epoxy-7-megastigmen-9-one, 3alpha-hydroxy-11alphaH-guaia-4(15),10(14)-diene-12,6alpha-olide, 3alpha-hydroxyl-11beta,13-dihydrodehydrocostuslactone-8-O-beta-D-glucoside, 3beta,8alpha-dihydroxy-13-methoxyl-4(14),10(15)-dien-(1alphaH,5alphaH,6beta H,11alphaH)-12,6-olide, 3beta,8alpha-dihydroxy-13-methoxyl-4(14),10(15)-dien-(1alphaH,5alphaH,6beta H,11betaH)-12,6-olide, 3beta,22alpha-dihydroxyolean-12-en-30-oic acid, 3beta-hydroxy-5alpha,6alpha-epoxy-7-megastigmen-9-one, 3beta-hydroxy-8alpha-epoxymethylacriloiloxy-4(15),10(14),11(13)-trien-guaian-6,12-olide, 3-hydroxyhexane-2,5-dione, 3-O-beta-D-fucopyranosylstrophanthidin, 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-(1-->4)-alpha-L-rhamnopyranosylcannogenin, 3-O-beta-D-quinovopyranosylperiplogenin, (3S)-3-O-(3',4'-diangeloyl-beta-D-glucopyranosyloxy)-3,7-trimethylocta-1,6-diene, 3-stigmastanol, 4,6-decadiyne-1-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 4,6-decadiyne-1-O-beta-D-apiofuranosyl-(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 4(15)- eudesmene-1beta,6alpha-diol, 4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxybenzene-1-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenyl glucoside, 4-hydroxy cinnamic acid, (4R,7R*/S*)-2,4-dimethyl-4-(1'-acetyl-3'-oxobutyl)-2-butenolide, (4R,7S*/R*)-2,4-dimethyl-4-(1'-acetyl-3'-oxobutyl)-2-butenolide, 5-hydroxy-7-methoxy coumarin, 5-hydroxymethyl-furaldehyde, 6''-O-crotonoylhomoplantaginin, 7delta-methoxy-4(14)-oppositen-1beta-ol, 7-dihydroxy-2-methylchromone, 7-hydroxy coumarin, 7'-hydroxyiso-lappaol A, 7-methoxykaempferol 3-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranoside, 7-O-[alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside], (7'R,8'R)-2,2'-dimethoxy-4-(3-hydroxyl-propenyl)-4'-(1,2,3-trihydroxypropyl)-biphenyl ether, (7S,8R,8'R)-5,5'-dimethoxylariciresinol, 8alpha-acetoxydehydrocostus lactone, 8alpha-hydroxy-11alpha,13-dihydrozaluzanin C, 8alpha-hydroxy-11beta-11,13-dihydrodehydrocostuslactone, 8alpha-hydroxypinoresinol, 8alpha-O-(2', 3'-dihydroxyisobutyryl)11beta,13-dihydrodesacylcynaropicrin, 8alpha-O-(3'-hydroxy-3'-methylbutyryl)desacylcynaropicrin, (8E)-decaene-4,6-diyn-1-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 8-hydroxyzaluzanin C, (8Z)-decaene-4,6-diyn-1-O-beta-D-apiofuranosyl-(1-->6)-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 11,12,13-trihydroxy-4(15),8-eudesmadiene-9-one, (+)-11alpha,13-dihydrodehydrocostus lactone, 11,13beta-dihydrozaluzanin C, 11beta,13-dihydrocostunolide, 11beta,13-dihydrodehydrocostuslactone-8-O-[6'-O-acetyl-beta-D-glucoside], 11beta,13-dihydrodehydrocostuslactone-8-O-beta-D-glucoside, 11beta-H-2 alpha-hydroxy-eudesman-4(15)-en-12,8-beta-olide, 13-epi-phaeophorbide-a, 13-epi-phaeophorbide-a methyl ester, 13-sulfo-dihydrodehydrocostus lactone, 13-sulfo-dihydroreynosin, 13-sulfo-dihydrosantamarine, 20alpha,21alpha-epoxy-taraxastane-3beta,22alpha-diol, 22-oxo-20-taraxasten-3beta-ol, aloe-emodin-8-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, alpha-cyclocostunolide, amarantholidol A glycoside, amarantholidoside IV, amino acids, apigenin, apigenin 7-glucoside, apigenin 7-lutinoside, apigenin 7-O-beta-D-glucoside, apigenin glucosides, apigenin lutinosides, arbusculin A, arctigenin, arctigenin 4-O-(2''-O-acetyl-beta-D-glucoside), arctigenin 4-O-(3''-O-acetyl-beta-d-glucoside), arctigenin 4-O-(6''-O-acetyl-beta-d-glucoside), arctiin, arguerin B, aristocholic acid, asebotin, Asteraceae (family), auklandia, austricin, beta-amirenol, beta-amirenyl acetate, beta-costic acid, beta-cyclocostunolide, (-)-beta-elemene, beta-sitosterol, betulinic acid, betulinic acid methyl ester, butenolide derivatives, calcium, caffeoylquinic acids, cardenolides, cebellin F, ceramides, chlorogenic acid, chlorohyssopifolin A, chlorohyssopifolin E, chlorohyssopifolins, chlorojanerin, chrysophanol, conicaol A, conicaol B, conicaosides, copper, costal, costic acid, costic oil, costic root oil, costol, costunolide-15-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, costunolides, costus, costus absolute, Costus tapenbeckianus, Costus woodsonii, cynaropicrin, dammarane triterpenoid, daucosterol, dehydrocostus lactone, desacylcynaropicrin, dihydrocostunolide, dotriacontanoic acid, (-)-elema-1,3,11(13)-trien-12-al, elema-1,3,11(13)-trien-12-oic acid, (-)-elema-1,3,11(13)-trien-12-ol, emodin, encelin, ent-labdane diterpenoid, ergostan-3,24-diol, ethyl 2-pyrrolidinone-5(s)-carboxylate, eudesman-8beta,12-olide-1-O-beta-D-glucoside, eudesmane-type sesquiterpenoids, flavones, flavonoid glycosides, flavonoids, fraxiresinol-4'-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, gamma-linolenic acid, gerin and derivatives, germacra-1(10),4,11(13)-trien-12-al, germacra-1(10),4,11(13)-trien-12-oic acid, germacra-1(10),4,11(13)-trien-12-ol, (+)-germacrene A, germacrenes, glucose, guaianolides, heptadec-(9Z)-enoic acid, hexacosan-4-olide, Himalayan snowball plants, hispidulin, hydroxypropiophenone, inulin, iron, isoscopoletin, jaceosidin, kaempferol 3-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranoside, kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, kaempferol 3-O-beta-D-glucoside, kaempferol glucosides, kandavanolide, Kangen-karyu, khushta, kushta, kust, kuth, lignan glycosides, lignans, linalyl-O-beta-D-glucoside, luteolin, luteolin 7-O-beta-D-glucoside, magnesium, magnolialide, manganese, (-)-massoniresinol 4"-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, matairesinol, medusaside A, medusaside B, methyl-3-(2',4'-dihydroxyphenyl) propanoate, methyl-5-caffeoylquinic acid, mokko lactone, mu xiang (Chinese), neoechinulin A, oleanane-type triterpenes, oliganthas A, oliganthas B, (-)-olivil-4''-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, (-)-oplopan-4-one-10alpha-O-beta-D-glucoside, padma28, palmitic acid, patchak, phenolic glucosides, p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, polysaccharides, potassium, ptiloepoxide, pulchellamine A, pulchellamine B, pulchellamine C, pulchellamine D, pulchellamine E, pulchellamine F, pulchellamine G, qinghai, quang my xiang (Chinese), quercetin 3-O-alpha-L-rhamnopyranoside, quercetin 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, quercetin glucosides, quinic acid derivatives, Qust-e-Shereen, radix Aucklandia, reynosin, rhein-8-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, rutin, S. abnormis, S. acromelaena, S. acrophila, S. acropilina, S. acroura, S. acuminate, S. aegirophylla, S. affinis, S. ainorum, S. alaschanica, S. alata, S. alatipes, S. albescens, S. albescens var. incisifolia, S. alpicola, S. alpina (Alpine saw-wort), S. alpina densa, S. alpina depressa, S. alpina esthonica, S. alpina var. densa, S. amabilis, S. amara (Saussurea), S. ambigua, S. amblyophylla, S. americana (American saw-wort), S. amoena, S. amurensis, S. andersonii, S. andryaloides, S. angustifolia (narrow-leaved saw-wort), S. angustifolia var. angustifolia (narrowleaf saw-wort), S. angustifolia var. viscida, S. angustifolia var. yukonensis (narrowleaf saw-wort), S. angustifolia yukonensis (narrowleaf saw-wort), S. anochaete, S. apus, S. arenaria, S. aspera, S. aster, S. atkinsonii, S. atriplicifolia, S. auriculata, S. baicalensis, S. bella, S. bhutkesh, S. blanda, S. bodinieri, S. brachycephala, S. brachylepis, S. bracteata, S. brunneopilosa, S. bullata, S. bullockii, S. bungei, S. caerulea, S. caespitosa, S. calcicola, S. cana, S. candicans, S. candolleana, S. canescens, S. caprifolia, S. carduiformis, S. carthamoides, S. catharinae, S. caudate, S. cauloptera, S. ceratocarpa, S. ceratocarpa var. depressa, S. ceterach, S. ceterachifolia, S. chabyoungsanica, S. chamarensis, S. chenopodifolia, S. chenopodiifolia, S. chinensis, S. chingiana, S. chinnampoensis, S. chinnampoensis var. gracile, S. chionophora, S. chionophylla, S. chitralica, S. chrysotricha, S. ciliaris, S. cirsium, S. clarkei, S. cochlearifolia, S. coerulea, S. columnaris, S. conandrifolia, S. congesta, S. conica, S. controversa, S. controversa f. sinuate, S. conyzoides, S. cordifolia, S. coronata, S. costus, S. costus (Falc.) Lipschitz, S. crassifolia, S. crispa, S. decurrens, S. delavayi, S. deltoidea, S. deltoides, S. densa (clustered saw-wort), S. denticulate, S. depressa, S. depsangensis, S. dhwojii, S. diamantiaca, S. diamantica, S. dielsiana, S. discolor, S. dolichopoda, S. donkiah, S. dubia, S. duiensis, S. dutaillyana, S. dzeurensis, S. edulis, S. elata, S. elegans, S. elliptica, S. elongate, S. eopygmaea, S. epilobioides, S. eriocephala, S. eriolepis, S. eriophylla, S. erubescens, S. esthonica, S. euodonta, S. falconeri, S. fastuosa, S. fauriei, S. firma, S. fistulosa, S. flexuosa, S. foliosa, S. formosana, S. forrestii, S. franchetii, S. frolowii, S. frondosa, S. fruticulosa, S. fulcrata, S. georgei, S. gilesii, S. glacialis, S. glanduligera, S. glandulosa, S. globosa, S. glomerata, S. gnaphalodes, S. gossipiphora, S. gossypina, S. gossypiphora, S. gossypiphora D.Don, S. gracilis, S. graminea, S. graminifolia, S. grandiflora, S. grandifolia, S. grosseserrata, S. grubovii, S. henryi, S. heteromalla, S. hieracioides, S. hookeri, S. hultenii, S. humilis, S. hylophila, S. hypargyrea, S. hypoleuca, S. hypsipeta, S. inaensis, S. inconspicua, S. insularis, S. intermedia, S. involucrata, S. involucrata Kar. et Kir., S. involucrata (Kar. et Kir.) Sch.Bip., S. iodostegia, S. irregularis, S. jacea, S. japonica, S. kansuensis, S. kanzanensis, S. karelinii, S. katochaete, S. katochaetoides, S. kingii, S. kiraisanensis, S. kiraisiensis, S. kirigaminensis, S. kitamurana, S. klementzii, S. koidzumiana, S. kolesnikovii, S. komaroviana, S. koslowii, S. kudoana, S. kunthiana, S. kurentzoviae, S. kurilensis, S. kwangtungensis, S. laciniata, S. lacostei, S. laminamaensis, S. lamprocarpa, S. lancifolia, S. lanicaulis, S. laniceps, S. laniceps Hand.-Mazz, S. lanuginose, S. lappa, S. lappa C.B.Clarke, S. lappa Decne., S. latifolia, S. lavrenkoana, S. leiocarpa, S. lenensis, S. leontodontoides, S. leptolepis, S. leucoma, S. leucophylla, S. lhunzhubensis, S. licentiana, S. likiangensis, S. limprichtii, S. linearifolia, S. lipschitzii, S. longifolia, S. loriformis, S. lyrata, S. lyratifolia, S. macrolepis, S. macrophylla, S. macrota, S. mairei, S. mandshurica, S. masarica, S. maximowiczii, S. medusa, S. medusa Maxim., S. melanotricha, S. minuta, S. modesta, S. mongolica, S. monocephala, S. montana, S. monticola, S. muliensis, S. mutabilis, S. myokoensis, S. namikawae, S. neglecta, S. nematolepis, S. neofranchetii, S. neopulchella, S. neoserrata, S. nepalensis, S. nidularis, S. nigrescens, S. nikoensis, S. nimborum, S. nipponica, S. nipponica var. yakusimensis, S. nishiokae, S. nivea, S. nomurae, S. nuda (chaffless saw-wort), S. nutans, S. obvallata, S. obvallata (DC.) Edgew., S. ochrochlaena, S. odontolepis, S. oligantha, S. oligantha Franch., S. orgaadayi, S. otophylla, S. ovata, S. oxyodonta, S. pachyneura, S. pallidiceps, S. pamirica, S. parviflora, S. paucijuga, S. paxiana, S. pectinata, S. pectinata f. macrocephala, S. peguensis, S. peipingensis, S. pennata, S. petrovii, S. phaeantha, S. phyllocephala, S. pilinophylla, S. pinetorum, S. piptathera, S. platyphyllaria, S. pohlei, S. polycephala, S. polycolea, S. polylepis, S. polypodioides, S. polystichoides, S. poochlamys, S. poophylla, S. popovii, S. populifolia, S. porcii, S. porphyroleuca, S. pricei, S. przewalskii, S. pseudoangustifolia, S. pseudo-gracilis, S. pseudosalsa, S. pseudosquarrosa, S. pseudo-tilesii, S. pteridophylla, S. pubifolia, S. pujolica, S. pulchella, S. pulvinata, S. pulvinata (Hook. et Grev.) Maximo, S. pumila, S. purpurascens, S. pycnocephala, S. pygmaea, S. quercifolia, S. ramose, S. rectinervis, S. recurvata, S. rhytidocarpa, S. riederi, S. riederii, S. robusta, S. rockii, S. romuleifolia, S. rorinsanensis, S. roylei, S. runcinata, S. sachalinensis, S. sacra, S. sagitta, S. saichanensis, S. sajanensis, S. salicifolia, S. salsa, S. salwinensis, S. sawadae, S. saxatilis, S. scabrida, S. scaposa, S. schanginiana, S. schultzii, S. sclerolepis, S. semilyrata, S. seoulensis, S. sericea, S. serrata, S. serratuloides, S. setidens, S. setifolia, S. sieboldiana, S. sikokiana var. sessiliflora, S. simpsoniana, S. sinuate, S. sinuatoides, S. sobarocephala, S. soczavae, S. sordida, S. sorocephala, S. sovietica, S. spathulifolia, S. spatulifolia, S. spicata, S. splendida, S. squarrosa, S. stafleuana, S. stella, S. stenolepis, S. stoliczkae, S. stracheyana, S. stricta, S. subacaulis, S. subsinuata, S. subtriangulata, S. subulata, S. subulisquama, S. sudhanshui, S. sughoo, S. sukaczevii, S. sungpanensis, S. superba, S. sylvatica, S. tanakae, S. tanakae var. intermedia, S. tanguensis, S. tangutica, S. taquetii, S. taraxacifolia, S. tatsienensis, S. thomsonii, S. thoroldii, S. tianshuiensis var. huxianensis, S. tibetica, S. tilesii (Tiles' Saussurea), S. tomentosa, S. topkegolensis, S. triangulata, S. tridactyla, S. triptera, S. tschuktschorum (Tschuktsch's Saussurea), S. tunicate, S. turgaiensis, S. uchiyamana, S. uliginosa, S. umbrosa, S. uniflora, S. ussuriensis, S. veitchiana, S. velutina, S. venosa, S. viscida (sticky saw-wort), S. wardii, S. weberi (Weber's saw-wort), S. wellbyi, S. wernerioides, S. wettsteiniana, S. woodiana, S. yabulaiensis, S. yakla, S. yanagisawae, S. yatagaiana, S. yesoensis var. angustifolia, S. yoshinagae, S. yunnanensis, santamarine, Saussurea costus (Flac.) Lipschitz, Saussurea lappa C.B.Clarke, Saussurea lappa roots, Saussureae radix, saussureamine A, saussureamine B, saussureamine C, saussureamine D, saussureamine E, saussureoside A, saussureoside B, scopoletin, scopolin, selaginellin, selinene, sesquiterpene glucosides, sesquiterpene lactones, sesquiterpenoids, shikokiols, snow lotus, sodium, stigmast-5-en-3beta,7alpha,22-triol, stigmast-7-en-3-ol, succinic acid, sulfocostunolide A, sulfocostunolide B, (+)-syringaresinol, syringin, taraxast-20(30)ene-3beta,21alpha-diol, taraxast-20(30)-ene-3beta-ol, taraxast-20-ene-3beta,30-diol, taraxast-20-ene-3beta-ol, taraxastane triterpenoids, taraxastane-3beta,20alpha-diol, trachelogenin, triterpenic pentacyclic compounds, umbelliferone, umbelliferonglucoside, wild saussurea, xuelian, xuelianlactone, xuelianlactone 8-O-beta-D-glcuoside, zaluzanin C, zinc.
Select combination products: Xue Lianhua (Saussurea involucrata, S. medusa, S. gossypiphora, S. polylada, S. laniceps, S. tridactyla, S. gnaphaloides, S. kingii, S. obvallata, S. tangutica, S. globosa, S. longifolia, Soroseris erysimoides, So. glomerata, and So. umbrella); Eazmov (Ayurvedic herbal preparation containing Cyperus rotundus, Tinosporda cordifolia, Saussurea lappa, Picrorrhiza kurrow, and Zingiber officiniale); Kangen-karyu (peony root, cnidium rhizome, safflower, cyperus rhizome, saussurea root (JP XIV), and Salvia miltiorrhiza root).

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Arthritis (Grade: C)
Early evidence suggests that
Asthma (Grade: C)
Evidence supporting the use of saussurea for asthma is lacking. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Gastritis (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that healthy people who take saussurea by mouth may experience a shorter time for food in the stomach to reach the small intestine, as well as higher levels of a protein that stimulates the gut muscle to contract. However, there was a lack of effect in people who had gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). More research is needed.
Parasites (Grade: C)
Early research suggests that saussurea may protect against parasites in children. More research is needed before conclusions can be made.