Eucommia ulmoides is a small tree found in central China. It is popularly called the hardy rubber tree, and is the only latex producing tree native to temperate climates. When fully grown, the tree stands 15 meters tall; its green leaves are ovate and deciduous, and when a leaf is torn apart, strands of latex flow from its veins, and form solid rubber that refuses the leaf together.
According to fossil records, Eucommia was at one time, a wider ranging tree. Today, however, most wild Eucommia is extinct, and the species is preserved by cultivation for its rubber production and bark.
From time immemorial Eucommia bark extract was known for its ability to heal pain in the lower back and knees, strengthen the skeletal system, and tonify the kidney and liver meridians.
Modern scientists, like traditional healers, relate the health of the skeletal system to the health of the kidney and liver . Doctors explain that both the liver and kidney are essential in the metabolism of bone preserving vitamin D. However, exactly how the bark of rubber producing Eucommia strengthens the ligaments, tendons, bones, joints, knees and ankles is still a mystery.
According to traditional medicine back pain is caused by kidney yang deficiency, which produces weakness of the lower body with easy penetration of “wind” that causes pain. Eucommia strengthens the Yang energies of the kidney, and thereby wards off this pain.
Modern scientists, on the other hand, believe the healing ability of Eucommia relates to numerous iridoid and lignan glycosides, found in its bark. The main constituent of interest in is the iridoid glycoside aucubin, which is found in several other healing herbs.
Unlike some herbs, the traditional and modern scientific approaches to studying the amazing Eucommia bark have yet to stand on common ground, but people continue to take it, and benefit from it as they have for thousands of years.
Eucommia is found in many natural preparations. Recently, for example, the natural health products manufacturer eHelps compounded Eucommia into a sleep supplement, that promotes refreshing sleep by strengthening the Qi and tonifying the sleep wake cycle. Eucommia was included because it strengthens the Qi.