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Herbs & Botanicals

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Benincasa Seed (dong gua xi/ren)

What is benincasa seed? What is it used for?

Also known as the winter melon or the Chinese waxgourd, benincasa is a type of herb native to China. The benincasa is similar in appearance to a small watermelon, with bright, green skin. The fruit usually ripens in the late summer or early autumn; the seeds are removed from the plant and dried in the sun before being used in herbal remedies.

Benincasa seeds are sweet and cold, according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, and are associated with the Lung, Stomach, Large and Small Intestine meridians. The main functions of benincasa seeds are to clear away heat, moisturize the lungs, and eliminate phlegm and dampness. The seeds contain fatty oils and several types of fatty acid. The seeds are used to treat conditions ranging from pulmonary abscesses and edema to gonorrhea and strangury.

How much benincasa seed should I take?

The typical dosage of benincasa seed is between 5 and 30 grams, powdered and boiled in water, and used as a decoction.

What forms of benincasa seed are available?

Whole, dried benincasa seeds can be found at most Asian markets, herbal shops and specialty stores. Powdered benincasa seeds are also available.

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

Benincasa seeds should be used with caution by patients who are cold deficient in the spleen and stomach. As of this writing, there are no known side effects or drug interactions with benincasa seeds. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking benincasa seeds or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  1. Dong Gua Zi. Available online.
  2. Editorial Committee of Chinese Materia Medica. State Drug Administration of China. Chinese Materia Medica. Shanghai: Science and Technology Press, 1998.
  3. Bown D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and Their Uses. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1995.
  4. Chen Y. The purification and certain characteristics of dong gua zi's small molecular trypsin inhibitors. Journal of Molecular Biology and Biological Physics 1986;18(6):485-490.
  5. Chevallier A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1996.

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