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Herbs & Botanicals

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Prunus Seed (yu li ren)

What is prunus seed? What is it used for?

Prunus is actually the dried pit of a type of cherry, known as either the "bush cherry" or "dwarf cherry." There are two versions of the seed - xiao li ren (small Chinese dwarf cherry seed) and da li ren (large Chinese dwarf cherry seed), but aside from size, they both contain the same properties. Externally, a prunus seed is yellowish or pale brown in color, with a slight odor and a slightly bitter taste.

In traditional Chinese medicine, prunus is used to help relax and moisten the bowels and subdue upward qi. It affects the Large Intestine, Small Intestine and Spleen meridians. In Western terms, prunus is used to treat constipation due to lack of body fluids, and to promote the circulation of water in the body. It is often used with other herbs to treat edema.

How much prunus seed should I take?

The amount of prunus seed to be taken depends on the condition being treated. A typical dose of prunus seed is between 5 and 12 grams. Generally, however, prunus is taken with other herbs to treat conditions such as abdominal distention and edema. A typical formula may include 10 grams of prunus along with 30 grams of coix seed.

What forms of prunus seed are available?

Dried prunus seed is readily available at many Asian markets and herbal formularies. Prunus is also available as part of several herbal formulas, either in powder, capsule or decoction form.

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

Prunus may cause slight abdominal pain when it's taken to fight constipation. While there are no known drug interactions with prunus as of this writing, it should be used with extreme caution by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking prunus or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  1. Bensky & Gamble. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, revised edition. Seattle: Eastland Press Inc., 1993.
  2. Frohne D, Pfander HJ. Giftplanzen íV Ein Handbuch fur Apotheker, Toxikologen und Biologen, 4th edition. Stuttgart: Wiss. Verlags-Ges, 1997. In German.
  3. Kern W, List PH, Horhammer L (eds.) Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, 4th ed. Heidelberg/New York: Srpinger Verlag, 1969. In German.
  4. Leung AY. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1980.
  5. Roth L, Daunderer M, Kormann K. Giftplanzen, Pflanzengifte, 4th ed. Ecomed Fachverlag Landsberg Lech, 1993. In German.

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