According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, acanthopanax bark has pungent, bitter and warm properties, and is associated with the Liver and Kidney meridians. Its functions are to dispel wind and dampness, to strengthen the tendons and bones, and to promote urination. It helps treats conditions such as rheumatic pain and arthritis in the limbs, and weakness and pain in the knees and lower back. Acanthopanax is often mixed with other herbs such as eucommia bark, mulberry and angelica root to create larger herbal formulas.
There are two types of acanthopanax bark produced in China: northern and southern. The southern variety is non-toxic, contains vitamins A and B (along with various oils and acids), and helps to strengthen the bones and muscles. The northern variety is considered more toxic; while it is used to kill pain, it should not be consumed in large doses or for an extended length of time.