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Fingered Citron Fruit (Fo Shou)

Close up of Fingered Citron Fruit (Buddha's Hand, Fo Shou) TCM Herb

What is Fingered Citron Fruit (Fo Shou)?

Fingered Citron Fruit (fo shou, 佛手) is also known as Buddha’s Hand Fruit because of its distinctive shape that resembles fingers and hands in a prayer position. When the fruit ripens, all of its carpels then separate from each other and form elongated, curved shapes. This juiceless and seedless fruit is then harvested during Autumn when it turns yellow. Afterwards, Fingered Citron Fruit is then sliced vertically into sheets and dried under the Sun for medicinal usage.

Since ancient times, Fo Shou has held an important place in religious ceremonies due to its appearance. Other than being used as an ornamental fruit, Fo Shou is also used in the making of perfumes due to its sweet, citrusy smell. In China, Fo Shou is used as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of diseases. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Fingered Citron Fruit falls under the category of ‘Herbs that regulate qi’. Such herbs can treat Qi Stagnation. Warm in nature, Fingered Citron Fruit can help individuals who have too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance.

Bitter, pungent and sour in taste, this herb can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Fingered Citron Fruit can also promote the circulation of qi and body fluids, as well as to aid digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of fluids from the body. In particular, the herb targets the Spleen, the Liver, the Lungs and the stomach.

Functions and Benefits of Fingered Citron Fruit (Fo Shou)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Fingered Citron Fruit has the following health benefits.

Fo Shou can soothe the Liver, regulate qi and promote the movement of qi, which makes it effective in treating syndromes of Liver Depression and Qi Stagnation. Fingered Citron Fruit can also help to alleviate hypochondriac pain and chest oppression, which are manifestations of Liver-Qi Stagnation. The herb may also address emotional problems associated with Liver Yin Deficiency.

Fingered Citron Fruit can regulate the middle energizer to treat syndromes of Qi Stagnation in the Spleen and the stomach. These syndromes can be manifested as gastric and abdominal distending pain, nausea, vomiting, belching and poor appetite.

Other than having the ability to move qi and soothe the chest, Fingered Citron Fruit can also dry Dampness and resolve phlegm. The herb can help to treat cough with profuse sputum caused by the accumulation of phlegm and Dampness, pain in the chest, and hypochondrium.

Modern studies have discovered that Fo Shou contains aromatic organic compounds, such as coumarin, limonin, diosmin and bergapten, which are pain-relieving agents. These anti-inflammatory agents help to reduce swelling and pain. For hundreds of years, Fingered Citron Fruit has been known for its pain relief properties, which can ease inflammation and pain

The fruit’s anti-inflammatory properties also help to reduce inflammation in the stomach lining and intestines. Fingered Citron Fruit can thus relieve pain, cramps and treat diarrhoea. High amounts of dietary fibers further increase nutrient absorption in the intestines and promote food flow through the colon. The fruit can help to treat constipation and maintain healthy digestion.

Fingered Citron Fruit also contains mild alcoholic compounds which acts as an expectorant to treat respiratory diseases. It can clear cough and phlegm from the pharynx, relieves pain, eases breathing, and treats asthma to a certain extent. To get maximum relief from breathing discomfort, you can soak the fruit in a bowl of water with some sugar.

A great immunity booster, Fingered Citron Fruit has a specific polysaccharide that can improve immunity and prevent common illnesses and infections such as cold and flu. Rich in Vitamin C, which acts as antioxidants, Fingered Citron Fruit can counter damage caused by free radicals, prevent oxidative damage of cells and tissues, fight infections and reduce the risk of cancer. Antioxidants can also delay the ageing of skin cells, promote healthy skin and fight breast cancer and colorectal tumours.

Fingered Citron Fruit contains alcohol extracts that dilate the blood vessels and ease blood flow , which promotes blood circulation and reduces blood pressure levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack, strokes and atherosclerosis. The fruit also contains pectin which reduces cholesterol levels and protects the heart from cardiovascular diseases.

Close up of Fingered Citron Fruit (Buddha's Hand, Fo Shou) TCM Herb
In TCM, Fingered Citron (Fo Shou) is a Warm herb that can help to relieve chronic coughs.

How to Use Fingered Citron Fruit (Fo Shou)

The recommended daily dosage of Fingered Citron Fruit is 3 – 10g.

Fingered Citron Fruit, like other citrus fruits, is mainly utilized for its zest and peel. You can break off a ‘finger’ from the fruit, grate or peel its external skin off, and take the brightly coloured section of the citrus peel for medicinal usage. You can use the shredded zest in baked goods, salad dressings, beverages, marinades and other dishes. 

Fingered Citron Fruit can be found in some Asian markets and specialized food stores. The best quality Fo Shou are the ones that are firm and have a noticeable floral, lemon-like smell. Do not pick the ones with feeble ‘fingers’.

Cautions and Side Effects of Fingered Citron Fruit (Fo Shou)

Fingered Citron Fruit should not be used by individuals who are experiencing Yin Deficiency with Heat signs of Excess Fire symptoms.



Here is a summary for Fingered Citron Fruit (Fo Shou):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 佛手
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): fó shǒu
  • Herb name (English): Fingered Citron
  • Herb name (Botanical): Fructus Citri Sarcodactylis
  • Origin of species: Citrus medica L. var. sarcodactylis Swingle
  • Part(s) of herb used: Fruit
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Fujian, Yunnan, Sichuan
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Warm; Administrates the Liver, Spleen, Stomach and Lung Meridians
  • Actions: Eases pain at the abdominal region and sides of the body; Relieves chronic coughs with excessive oral discharge

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