CC BY 4.0 · Chinese medicine and natural products 2023; 03(01): e34-e40
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-1764131
Review Article

Research Progress on the Mechanism of the Effective Components of Duzhong (Eucommiae Cortex) on Lumbar Disk Herniation

Bowen Yang
1   Gansu Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Lanzhou, Gansu, China
Yanjun Zhang
1   Gansu Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Lanzhou, Gansu, China
Hongxia Qi
2   The Third People's Hospital of Gansu Province, Lanzhou, Gansu, China
Yang Zhang
3   Orthopedics, Xuyong County of Chinese Medicine Hospital, Luzhou, Sichuan, China
› Author Affiliations
Funding This work was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of Science and Technology Department of Gansu Province (22JR5RA624).


Duzhong (Eucommiae Cortex) is one of the most commonly used Chinese herb in the treatment of lumbar disk herniation (LDH). Both the single use of it and as a Chinese herbal compound have significant clinical efficacy. Its effective components including lignans, flavonoids, iridoid terpenes, polysaccharides, etc., participate in the treatment of LDH through multiple channels, which can effectively inhibit immune and inflammatory reactions, promote the repair of intervertebral disk bone tissues, protect neurological functions, enhance cell metabolism, regulate endocrine, etc. The signal pathways of Wnt/β-catenin, TNF, HL-1, MAPK, PI3K/AKT, and NF-κB may be also involved. The action mechanism of Duzhong (Eucommiae Cortex) on LDH is characterized by multiple paths, multiple targets, and multiple component cross-actions, but the direct effects of specific components of Duzhong (Eucommiae Cortex) on LDH pathological tissues have not been clarified in the existing studies. At present, the study on the efficacy of Chinese herbs has not yet included the chemical reactions among the pharmaceutical components and pharmaceutical processing, etc. Relevant experimental studies need to further extract the effective components through purification technology, analyze the target information between Duzhong (Eucommiae Cortex) and LDH through network pharmacology and biology, and strengthen the influence of different processing methods on the pharmaceutical effects of Chinese herbs to increase the choice of clinical medication. In the experimental study, the animal cell models were finely constructed, and the pathological targets of LDH were excavated, which was conducive to the development and application of new drugs.

CRediT Authorship Contribution Statement

B.Y. and Y.Z, were responsible for writing—original draft, investigation, and conceptualization. H.Q. and Y.Z. were responsible for supervision, funding acquisition, and writing—review and editing.

Publication History

Received: 05 August 2022

Accepted: 15 September 2022

Article published online:
14 March 2023

© 2023. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, permitting unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction so long as the original work is properly cited. (

Georg Thieme Verlag KG
Rüdigerstraße 14, 70469 Stuttgart, Germany

  • References

  • 1 Jia N, Zhang M, Zhang H. et al. Prevalence and risk factors analysis for low back pain among occupational groups in key industries of China. BMC Public Health 2022; 22 (01) 1493
  • 2 Delgado-López PD, Rodríguez-Salazar A, Martín-Alonso J, Martín-Velasco V. [Lumbar disc herniation: natural history, role of physical examination, timing of surgery, treatment options and conflicts of interests]. Neurocirugia (Astur) 2017; 28 (03) 124-134
  • 3 Yu CJ, Chu Y, Liang B. Research progress on the pathogenesis of lumbar disc herniation. Chin J New Clin Med 2017; 10 (08) 824-828
  • 4 Qin XK, Sun K, Fang SJ. et al. Study on the medication rule and action mechanism of lumbar disc herniation based on literature data mining and network pharmacology analysis. Zhongyao Xinyao Yu Linchuang Yaoli 2021; 32 (10) 1490-1499
  • 5 Zhang GF. Research progress in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation with traditional Chinese medicine. Chin Pract J Rural Dr 2022; 29 (08) 36-39
  • 6 Medical History Literature Laboratory, Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The significance of medical bamboo slips of Wuwei in Han dynasty in medical history. Cult Relics 1973; (12) 23-29
  • 7 National Pharmacopoeia Commission. Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China—Part 1 (2020 Ed). Beijing: China Medical Science and Technology Press; 2020
  • 8 Xing YF, He D, Wang Y. et al. Chemical constituents, biological functions and pharmacological effects for comprehensive utilization of Eucommia ulmoides Oliver. Food Sci Hum Wellness 2019; 8 (02) 177-188
  • 9 Liu C, Guo FF, Xiao JP, Wei JY, Tang LY, Yang HJ. [Research advances in chemical constituents and pharmacological activities of different parts of Eucommia ulmoides]. Zhongguo Zhongyao Zazhi 2020; 45 (03) 497-512
  • 10 Wang JJ, Qin XM, Gao XX. et al. Research progress on chemical compounds, pharmacological action, and quality status of Eucommia ulmoides . Chin Tradit Herbal Drugs 2017; 48 (15) 3228-3237
  • 11 Liu SH, Zhou SH, Yang MZ. et al. Research progress of inflammation and intervertebral disc degeneration. J Spinal Surg 2020; 18 (02) 140-144
  • 12 Park JJ, Moon HJ, Park JH, Kwon TH, Park YK, Kim JH. Induction of proinflammatory cytokine production in intervertebral disc cells by macrophage-like THP-1 cells requires mitogen-activated protein kinase activity. J Neurosurg Spine 2016; 24 (01) 167-175
  • 13 Sun K, Zhu LG, Wei X. et al. [Research progress in mechanism of Chinese herbal compounds and monomers in delaying lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration]. Zhongguo Zhongyao Zazhi 2022; 47 (09) 2400-2408
  • 14 Yang S, Li L, Zhu L. et al. Aucubin inhibits IL-1β- or TNF-α-induced extracellular matrix degradation in nucleus pulposus cell through blocking the miR-140-5p/CREB1 axis. J Cell Physiol 2019; 234 (08) 13639-13648
  • 15 Zhang Y, Wang JY, Chen XY. et al. Effects of ethanol extracts of barks and leaves from Eucommia ulmoides on inflammatory bone destruction in collagen-induced arthritis rats based on NF-κB pathway. Chin Tradit Herbal Drugs 2021; 52 (06) 1645-1653
  • 16 Deng M, Ma BX, Guang YL. et al. Study on molecular mechanism of Duzhong-Niuxi in treating lumbar disc herniation based on network pharmacology. Tradit Chin Med J 2022; 21 (09) 48-54
  • 17 Hai B, Song Q, Du C. et al. Comprehensive bioinformatics analyses reveal immune genes responsible for altered immune microenvironment in intervertebral disc degeneration. Mol Genet Genomics 2022; 297 (05) 1229-1242
  • 18 Sun Z, Liu B, Luo ZJ. The immune privilege of the intervertebral disc: implications for intervertebral disc degeneration treatment. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17 (05) 685-692
  • 19 Di Martino A, Merlini L, Faldini C. Autoimmunity in intervertebral disc herniation: from bench to bedside. Expert Opin Ther Targets 2013; 17 (12) 1461-1470
  • 20 Zhang TH, Peng JC, Li Q. et al. Macrophage inflitration and presence of immune complexes in herniated disc tissue. Orthop J China 2004; 12 (S1): 88-89
  • 21 Wang HL, Chen LY, Zhou YH. et al. Effects of total Eucommia capsule on anti stress ability of mice with kidney Yang deficiency and its mechanism. Chin J Basic Med Tradit Chin Med 2018; 24 (08) 1077-1081
  • 22 Kim MC, Kim DS, Kim SJ. et al. Eucommiae cortex inhibits TNF-α and IL-6 through the suppression of caspase-1 in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated mouse peritoneal macrophages. Am J Chin Med 2012; 40 (01) 135-149
  • 23 Xie GP, Jiang N, Wang SN. et al. Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. bark aqueous extract inhibits osteoarthritis in a rat model of osteoarthritis. J Ethnopharmacol 2015; 162: 148-154
  • 24 Cui EH, Xue YH, Li CX. et al. Network pharmacological analysis and verification of immune regulatory mechanism of Eucommia Ulmoides leaves. Acta Veterinariae Sinica 2022; 1-13
  • 25 Wang P, Sun QM. Clinical observation of quanduzhong capsule for 60 cases with postoperative osteoporotic lower limb fracture. Liaoning J Tradit Chin Med 2022; 49 (04) 135-137
  • 26 Zhao JR, Yang T, Zhao N. et al. Research progress on osteogenic differentiation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells induced by Eucommia ulmoides oliv. to prevent and cure osteoporosis related signal pathway. Zhongguo Guzhi Shusong Zazhi 2020; 26 (12) 1868-1872
  • 27 Li NB, Luo XF, Yin X, Wei X. [Eucommia ulmoides Oliv polysaccharide reduces the injury of IL-1β-induced chondrocyte by inhibiting NF-κB pathway]. Zhongguo Gu Shang 2022; 35 (07) 661-668
  • 28 Zhang YM, Liu Y, Liu YP. et al. Mechanism of Eucommiae ulmoides and Radix Dipsaci in prevention and treatment of osteoporosis: an analysis based on network pharmacology and cell experiment. Chin Pharmacol Bull 2022; 38 (09) 1401-1408
  • 29 Zhao JR, Yang T, Chen QQ. et al. Mechanism of Eucommia ulmoides Oliv.Leaves in preventing and treating osteoporosis based on network pharmacology and molecular docking. World Chin Med 2022; 17 (05) 664-670
  • 30 Wang F-J, Wang T, Luo F-M, Zang C-X, Lio S. [Study on anti-osteoporosis effect of Eucommiae Cortex based on GC-MS metabonomics]. Zhongguo Zhongyao Zazhi 2020; 45 (22) 5555-5560
  • 31 Yuan Z, Min J, Wang K. et al. Effects of different pharmacological components of Eucommia ulmoides flavonoids on postmenopausal osteoporosis. Zhongguo Guzhi Shusong Zazhi 2018; 24 (02) 244-248
  • 32 Xie GQ, Gao YH, Chen KM. Research progress on anti-osteoporosis effect of Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. Med & Pharm J Chin People's Liberation Army 2022; 34 (03) 112-116
  • 33 Tang QZ, Zou LY. Effect of Eucommia ulmoides on the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in early stage of closed fracture in SD rats. Lishizhen Med Mater Med Res 2011; 22 (05) 1187-1188
  • 34 Yang DM, Wang CG, Hu XY. et al. Protective effect of Eucommia alcohol extract on articular cartilage of osteoarthritis model rats. Chin J Tissue Eng Res 2022; 26 (23) 3756-3761
  • 35 Gui ZP, Xu YJ. Biological regulation and mechanism of quercetin on chondrocytes. Chongqing: Proceedings of the 14th Chinese Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Conference. 2018: 793
  • 36 Cui S, Chen YY, Zhou SJ. et al. Antioxidant effect of Eucommia ulmoides extract combined with levodopa on Parkinson's disease model rats induced by 6-OHDA. Acta Chin Med 2020; 35 (12) 2636-2641
  • 37 Kwon SH, Lee HK, Kim JA. et al. Neuroprotective effects of Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. Bark on amyloid beta(25-35)-induced learning and memory impairments in mice. Neurosci Lett 2011; 487 (01) 123-127
  • 38 Fan S, Yin Q, Li D. et al. Anti-neuroinflammatory effects of Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. In a Parkinson's mouse model through the regulation of p38/JNK-Fosl2 gene expression. J Ethnopharmacol 2020; 260: 113016
  • 39 Ohtori S, Inoue G, Miyagi M, Takahashi K. Pathomechanisms of discogenic low back pain in humans and animal models. Spine J 2015; 15 (06) 1347-1355
  • 40 Chen S, Zeng X, Zong W. et al. Aucubin alleviates seizures activity in Li-pilocarpine-induced epileptic mice: involvement of inhibition of neuroinflammation and regulation of neurotransmission. Neurochem Res 2019; 44 (02) 472-484
  • 41 Kobayashi S, Baba H, Uchida K. et al. Effect of mechanical compression on the lumbar nerve root: localization and changes of intraradicular inflammatory cytokines, nitric oxide, and cyclooxygenase. Spine 2005; 30 (15) 1699-1705
  • 42 Miyagi M, Uchida K, Takano S. et al. Role of CD14-positive cells in inflammatory cytokine and pain-related molecule expression in human degenerated intervertebral discs. J Orthop Res 2021; 39 (08) 1755-1762
  • 43 Zhang HP, Zhang F, Yao Y. Autoimmune properties of nucleus pulposus in the patients with lumbar disc herniation. Chin J Tissue Eng Res 2012; 16 (48) 8931-8937
  • 44 Guo FF, Tang X, Tang LY, Wei JY, Xiao JP, Yang HJ. [Possible pharmaceutical effect and active components in different parts of Eucommia ulmoides based on network pharmacology]. Zhongguo Zhongyao Zazhi 2020; 45 (08) 1800-1807
  • 45 Si HC, Si XM, Liu Z. Effects and mechanism of quercetin on neuropathic pain in chronic constriction injury rats. J Third Mil Med Univ 2017; 39 (01) 54-59
  • 46 Agius R, Galea R, Fava S. Bone mineral density and intervertebral disc height in type 2 diabetes. J Diabetes Complications 2016; 30 (04) 644-650
  • 47 Shah VN, Harrall KK, Shah CS. et al. Bone mineral density at femoral neck and lumbar spine in adults with type 1 diabetes: a meta-analysis and review of the literature. Osteoporos Int 2017; 28 (09) 2601-2610
  • 48 Wang QY, He GZ, Huang G. Effects of Eucommia ulmoides polysaccharide on serum SOD, GSH-Px and MDA in diabetic mice. Chiang-Hsi Chung I Yao 2016; 47 (04) 34-36
  • 49 Wang YM, Guo F, Xiong B. et al. Study of eucommiaulmoides polysaccharide on improvement in exercise fatigue. Can J Appl Physiol 2016; 32 (02) 151-153
  • 50 Yang S, Zhang F, Ma J, Ding W. Intervertebral disc ageing and degeneration: the antiapoptotic effect of oestrogen. Ageing Res Rev 2020; 57: 100978
  • 51 Saravi B, Li Z, Lang CN. et al. The tissue renin-angiotensin system and its role in the pathogenesis of major human diseases: quo vadis?. Cells 2021; 10 (03) 650
  • 52 Wang H, Li MC, Yang J. et al. Estrogenic properties of six compounds derived from Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. and their differing biological activity through estrogen receptors α and β. Food Chem 2011; 129 (02) 408-416
  • 53 Luo LF, Wu WH, Zhou YJ, Yan J, Yang GP, Ouyang DS. Antihypertensive effect of Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. extracts in spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2010; 129 (02) 238-243
  • 54 Segar AH, Fairbank JCT, Urban J. Leptin and the intervertebral disc: a biochemical link exists between obesity, intervertebral disc degeneration and low back pain-an in vitro study in a bovine model. Eur Spine J 2019; 28 (02) 214-223
  • 55 Zheng GD, Pan YF, Li DM. et al. Effects of du-Zhong (Eucommia ulmoides oliv) leaves on activities of hepatic fat metabolic enzymes in mice. J Chin Inst Food Sci Technol 2014; 14 (11) 22-26
  • 56 Lei YN, Zhang XB. The total flavonoids from Eucommia ulmoides leaves on lowering blood lipid. J Northwest Univ Nat Sci Ed 2015; 45 (05) 777-780