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Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi)

Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi) close up

What is Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi)?

Areca Peel (da fu pi, 大腹皮), also known as Pericarpium Arecae, is the dried pericarp (peel of the ripened seed) of Betel Nuts, which grow on the plant Areca catechu. Though referred to as a nut, Betel nuts are actually berries. Native to India, historians believe that Betel Nuts were first introduced to European countries by Portuguese sailors. In India, betel Nuts are an indispensable part of the culture, where it is associated with good omen and is often used as a gifting accessory in functions such as wedding and housewarming.

In China, Areca catechu is mainly grown in Guangxi, Yunnan and Hainan provinces. After the seeds are moved from the berries, they are then boiled in water, dried, and the peels are removed from the seeds. These peels are called Areca Peels (Da Fu Pi), and are used medicinally.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Areca Peel falls under the category of ‘Herbs that regulate qi’. Such herbs can help to treat Qi Stagnation, which often manifests as symptoms such as depression, irritability, mood swings, menopausal symptoms, breast swellings and various digestive disorders.

Warm in nature, Areca Peel can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance. Pungent in taste, Areca Peel can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, Areca Peel targets the Spleen, the stomach, the large intestines and the small intestines.

Functions and Benefits of Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Areca Peel has the following health benefits.

Areca Peel can promote the movement of qi and address syndromes of Stagnation. For example, this herb can relieve the Stagnation of Dampness in the stomach and intestines, Food Stagnation or Qi Stagnation in the middle jiao with epigastric and abdominal distention, focal distention, or a stifling sensation and belching with acid regurgitation. Areca Peel is especially useful when the above mentioned conditions are accompanied by incomplete or irregular bowel movements.

Also, Areca Peel can promote urination and reduce oedema. For example, the herb can address abdominal distention accompanied by oedema, especially superficial oedema or symptoms of food stagnation. Areca Peel is also effective in treating the accumulation of qi in the legs.

Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi) in a brown bowl
Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi) is a herb that can help to ease indigestion and gastrointestinal discomforts.

How to Use Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi)

The recommended daily dosage of Areca Peel is 5 – 10g, when consumed as a decoction.

As compared to Areca Seeds, Areca Peel is not as popular among patients. Usually, Areca Peel is sold in processed forms that are convenient to consume, such as extracts and granules. You may be able to find Areca Peel and Areca Peel products in certain herbal stores and Asian specialty markets.

Cautions and Side Effects of Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi)

Areca Peel should not be used by individuals who are weak and experiencing Qi Deficiency, or pregnant.

Also, when used concurrently, Areca Peel may exacerbate the extrapyramidal and involuntary effects of neuroleptic drugs, such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine), fluphenazine (Prolixin), thioridazine (Mellaril) and haloperidol (haldol) when used concurrently.


Here is a summary for Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 大腹皮
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): dà fù pí
  • Herb name (English): Areca Peel
  • Herb name (Botanical): Pericarpium Arecae
  • Origin of species: Areca catechu L.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Pericarp
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Hainan, Guangxi, Yunnan
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent; Slightly warm; Administrates the Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestine and Small Intestine Meridians
  • Actions: Eases indigestion and gastrointestinal discomfort; Relieves symptoms of water retention in the body by encouraging urination

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