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Herbs & Botanicals

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Apricot Seed (xing ren)

What is apricot seed? What is it used for?

In traditional Chinese medicine, apricot seed is considered to have bitter, warm and slightly toxic properties, and affects the Large Intestine and Lung meridians. It is used to stop cough and wheezing, moistens the intestines and unblocks the bowels.

Apricot seed contains a variety of amino acids and other substances, including oleic and linoleic acid. One of the components of apricot seed, amygdalin, has been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of coughing. Animal tests have shown that an apricot seed decoction can lower blood pressure, but these results have yet to be duplicated in humans. In addition, both raw and prepared versions of apricot seed have demonstrated a laxative effect in humans.

How much apricot seed should I take?

A typical dose of apricot seed consists of 3-9 grams of seed, crushed and used with water as a decoction. Apricot seed can also be consumed raw, parched or steamed.

What forms of apricot seed are available?

Apricot seed is available whole, or in powdered and extract forms. The seeds can also be crushed and used in a decoction.

What can happen if I take too much apricot seed? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Because apricot seed is mildly toxic, large doses should be avoided; overdosing can lead to dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea. The American Herbal Products Association has given xing ren a class 3 rating, meaning that any products containing apricot seed should have the following labeling: To be used only under the supervision of an expert qualified in the appropriate use of this substance. Apricot seed also is not recommended for use by children. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking apricot seed or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Editorial Committee of Chinese Materia Medica, State Drug Administration of China. Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai Science and Technology Press, 1998.
  • Liang AH, et al. The effect of processing on xing ren's toxicity and potency. China Journal of Chinese Medicine 1993;18(8):474-478.
  • McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds.) American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, pp. 91-92.
  • Zhang WJ, et al. Processed xing ren: its potency and acute toxicity. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine Material 1991;14(8):38-40.
  • Zhu YP, et al. Amygdalin's analgesic effect. China Journal of Chinese Medicine 1994;19(2):105-107.

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