What is Longan Aril?
Longan Aril (long yan rou, 龙眼肉) is the ripe pulp of the fruit of an evergreen tropical tree which is native to Southern Asia and later introduced to India and other warm regions such as Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia in the 18th century. Its Chinese name Long Yan Rou means the flesh of the Dragon’s eye. It is named so due to the translucent white colour of the fresh, peeled fruit and the dark brown seed that shows through the flesh, which resembles the bulging pupils of a Dragon.
In the early Autumn, after harvesting these ripe pupils, the small, round and hard seeds are removed before Longan Aril can be sold to its consumers. The dried Longan fruits then become a lovely golden colour and acquire a unique flavour. The Compendium of Materia Medica stated that good quality Longan fruit is large, thick, soft, yellowish and translucent with an intensely sweet taste.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Longan Aril falls under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency’, Such herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency to replenish one’s ‘Four Treasures’ (qi, blood, yin, yang). Warm in nature, the herb can also help individuals who are experiencing too much ‘Cold’ in their body, such as those having a Yin Excess or Yang Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance.
Sweet in taste, Longan Aril tends to slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body, and has a tonic effect on the human body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Longan Aril targets the Heart and the Spleen.
Functions and Benefits of Longan Aril
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Longan Aril has the following benefits.
Firstly, Longan Aril can nourish the blood. This herb is used to promote good circulation of qi and blood in the human body too. Thus, it is often used to address Blood Deficiency in the body, especially symptoms that are affecting the Heart and Spleen. For example, Longan Aril can help to relieve symptoms such as palpitations, headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, pale complexion and weak pulse. Also, Longan Aril can be combined with Kidney and Liver tonifying herbs to nourish yin, enrich blood and benefit qi after one is recovering from an illness, anaemia, or to replenish blood loss after birth.
Secondly, Longan Aril can calm the spirit. By strengthening the Heart, Longan Aril can help to relieve rapid heartbeat, insomnia, forgetfulness and anxiety disorders associated with Blood and Qi Deficiency. Combined with other herbs such as ganoderma and spirit poria, Longan Aril can thus promote tranquility.
Thirdly, Longan Aril can relieve fatigue, especially mental fatigue. It is believed to be able to increase physical stamina too. As the Heart is vital to one’s state of mind, this herb can also help to promote higher quality sleep by strengthening the Heart.
Fourthly, Longan Aril can increase sex drive and improve vitality in both men and women by strengthening the Spleen. It can also help to address sexual dysfunction symptoms.
Other than the above Longan benefits, modern studies have also discovered that Longan Aril can boost immunity as it is a great source of Vitamin C, which can help to protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals. This herb can also help to protect the body from chronic diseases due to its high antioxidant content, which can help to prevent cell damage.
Longan Aril can also help to improve digestion. Be it fresh or dried, Longan Aril contains fibre, which can promote bowel movement and improve the health of one’s digestive system. It also helps to prevent digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhoea and bloating.
Longan Aril is also able to aid weight loss as it has demonstrated some effects on suppressing appetite. Other than that, this herb can also regulate blood pressure and enhance skin health by promoting youthful skin and collagen formation.
One interesting study also suggested that Longan Aril can enhance learning and improve memory function.
How to Use Longan Aril
Longan Aril can be found at many markets, supermarkets and Chinese herbal stores. Most herbal stores sell Longan Aril as dried Longan for better medicinal usage, but you can usually find raw, fresh or canned Longan Aril in markets. Some stores may sell Longan powders too.
The recommended dosage of Longan Aril for a day is 9-15g. You can simmer several Longan fruits in boiling water to enjoy a nice beverage, eat it raw or in slices, or mash the pulp of the fruit to add it to other dishes or desserts.
For example, Longan Aril can be added to ginger and some brown sugar to make a nice, warm beverage during cold nights to warm the body, nourish blood and settle the mind for better sleep at night.
Longan Aril (Dried Longan) is a common ingredient found in Cheng Tng dessert, a popular dessert in Singapore and Malaysia.
Cautions and Side Effects of Longan Aril
Individuals who are experiencing symptoms of Heat or Dampness should avoid consuming Longan Aril. Examples of such symptoms include a tendency to cough, yellow or green phlegm and bloatedness.
Individuals with frequent stomach bloating due to odema should consult a physician before consuming this.
Also, eating excessive amounts of Longan Aril may cause indigestion.
Hence, it is best practice to adhere to the recommended dosage of Longan Aril per day and discuss with your healthcare provider first before deciding to incorporate Longan Aril into your diet.
Here is a summary for Longan Aril:
- Herb name (Chinese): 龙眼肉
- Herb name (Pin Yin): lóng yǎn ròu
- Herb name (English): Longan Aril
- Herb name (Botanical): Arillus Longan
- Origin of species: Dimocarpus longan Lour.
- Part(s) of herb used: Aril
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Fujian, Taiwan, Guangxi
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Warm; Administrates the Heart and Spleen meridians
- Actions: Ideal for relieving symptoms related to chronic fatigue and insomnia.
Yang, B., Jiang, Y., Shi, J., Chen, F., & Ashraf, M. (2011). Extraction and pharmacological properties of bioactive compounds from longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) fruit—A review. Food Research International, 44(7), 1837-1842. [Accessed on 29th September 2022]
Zhang, X., Guo, S., Ho, C. T., & Bai, N. (2020). Phytochemical constituents and biological activities of longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) fruit: A review. Food Science and Human Wellness, 9(2), 95-102.[Accessed on 29th September 2022]
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