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Herbs & Botanicals

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Chebula Fruit (he zi)

What is chebula fruit? What is it used for?

Also known as the terminalia, the chebula is a type of tree native to Asia. It is found throughout China, India and parts of the Middle East, with small, green leaves, white flowers and a distinctive fragrance. The fruit is gathered in the summertime while ripe, then dried in the sun, and is used in herbal preparations. It can be used either raw or after being baked.

Chebula has bitter, sour and neutral properties, and is affiliated with the Lung and Large Intestine meridians, according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. Its main functions are to constrict the intestines and lungs. The main ingredient in chebula is tannin, which is responsible for its astringent effects. It is used to treat digestive conditions such as diarrhea and dysentery, along with cough or asthma caused by deficiency in the lungs. Chebula is typically taken with other herbs, such as ginger, platycodon and licorice root. Chebula is also a vital component of ayurvedic medicine.

How much chebula fruit should I take?

The typical dosage of chebula is between 3 and 10 grams, depending on the condition being treated. Raw chebula is used for coughs and sore throat, while baked chebula is used for diarrhea.

What forms of chebula fruit are available?

Dried chebula fruit is typically poured into water and made into a decoction for oral use. It should be taken after being simmered in hot water to treat diarrhea, or taken raw to clear away heat and treat sore throats.

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

Chebula is contraindicated in patients who have exterior syndrome, and should not be used when damp heat accumulates and stagnates in the interior. As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with chebula. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking chebula or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Dev S. Environmental Health Perspectives 1999;107:783-789.
  • Frawley D, Lad V. The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Lotus Press, 1992, p.164.
  • Kim TG, Park MS, et al. Inhibitory effects of terminalia chebula, sanguisorba officinalis, rubus coreanus and rheum palmatum on hepatitis B virus replication in HepG2 2.2.15 cells. Yakhak Hoeji Aug 1999;43(4):458-463.
  • Kurokawa M, Nagasaka K, Hirabayashi T, et al. Efficacy of traditional herbal medicines in combination with acyclovir against herpes simplex virus type 1 infection in vitro and in vivo. Antiviral Res 1995;27:19-37.
  • Vani T, et al. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 1997;35:313-317.

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