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Herbs & Botanicals

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Euryale Seed (qian shi)

What is euryale seed? What is it used for?

Also called the fox nut, euryale seeds come from an annual type of water plant native to east Asia. The plant is grown throughout the ponds and low-lying lakes of China, Japan and India, and can reach a height of nearly 10 feet, with hermaphroditic flowers.

In China, euryale is produced in the Hunan, Jiangsu, Anhui and Shandong provinces. The seeds, which are small and round, with a brown outer covering, are collected between August and September, when they are ripe. They are shelled, dried in the sun, then pounded into pieces or powder. They can be consumed either raw or after being stir-baked.

Euryale seed is considered sweet, astringent and neutral, according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, and is associated with the Spleen And Kidney meridians. Its main functions are to tonify the spleen and stop diarrhea, to strengthen the kidneys and control the essence, or jing; and to dispel dampness. To treat diarrhea, euryale seed is typically incorporated into a larger formula containing white atractylodes and dioscorea.

How much euryale seed should I take?

The typical dose of euryale seed is between 10 and 15 grams, mixed with water as a decoction. Euryale is also sometimes used in larger formulas.

What forms of euryale seed are available?

Raw, dried euryale seeds can be found at some Asian markets and specialty stores, as can euryale powders and decoctions. Many herbal shops also sell formulas that contain powdered euryale seed.

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

As of this writing, there are no known side-effects or drug interactions associated with euryale seed. The American Herbal Products Association has given euryale seed a class 1 rating, meaning that it can be safely consumed when used appropriately. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking euryale seeds or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Lee SJ, Ju EM, Kim JH. Antioxidant activity of extracts from euryale ferox seed. Exp Mol Med 2002 May 31;34(2):100-6.
  • McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R (eds.) American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, pp. 51.
  • Puri A, Sahai R, Singh KL, et al. Immunostimulant activity of dry fruits and plant materials used in Indian traditional medical system for mothers after child birth and invalids. J Ethnopharmacol July 2000;71(1-2):89-92.
  • Tierra M. Herbal treatment of arthritis and rheumatic pains. Available online.
  • Chinese food therapy for weight loss. Available online.

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