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Common name: Privet

Botanical name: Ligustrum lucidum


© Steven Foster

Parts used and where grown

This shrub is native to China and eastern Asia and is now grown ornamentally in the United States. The berry of ligustrum is used medicinally.

Ligustrum has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns

Immune function


3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies)

Since ancient times, ligustrum berries have been employed as a “yin” tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine.1 Ligustrum was used for a wide range of conditions, including premature aging and ringing in the ears.2

Active constituents

The major constituent in ligustrum is ligustrin (oleanolic acid). Preliminary studies, mostly conducted in China, suggest that ligustrum stimulates the immune system, decreases inflammation, and protects the liver.3 Ligustrum is often combined with astragalus in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Although used for long-term support of the immune system in people with depressed immune function or cancer, more research is needed to demonstrate the optimal length of time to use ligustrum.

How much is usually taken?

Powdered, encapsulated berries, 1–3 teaspoons (5–15 grams) per day, are sometimes recommended.4 A similar amount of berries can be made into tea by adding 1/2–1 teaspoon (2–5 grams) of powdered or crushed berries to 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water and steeping for ten to fifteen minutes. Alternatively, 3/4–1 teaspoon (3–5 ml) of tincture three times per day can be taken.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

No adverse effects have been reported.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with ligustrum.


1. Benksy D, Gamble A, Kaptchuk T. Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993, 366.

2. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 350–2.

3. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 350–2.

4. Foster S, Yue CX. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1992, 227–32.

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