Constituents of Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus)
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Joan Lissauer
Posted on: March 20, 2001

I was referred to you by Betsy at Bountiful Gardens in Willits, California. She suggested you might have information which I requested of Bountiful Gardens after buying seeds.

I am a volunteer with the Behavioral Enrichment Dept. of the Los Angeles Zoo. We have a "Gorilla Garden" in which we grow "treats" for the animals--fresh flowers, vines, greens, herbs, etc., which they don’t get in their everyday diet. Before we can give any items that have medicinal properties to the animals, the item must be okayed by the vets.

Bountiful Gardens lists Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) as "significant medicinal," which Betsy says they got out of "The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants." But she is unable to give me the information I need.

Can you give me the chemical composition of Good King Henry and any possible adverse effects it may have?

Also, you have the same information on red orach (Atriplex hortensis)?

One of the best sources for this sort of data is Jim Duke’s phytochemical database at, but unfortunately neither of these plants are in the database. Other databases checked also came up blank.

Unfortunately, this lack of chemical constituent data is still very common among herbs.

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