Lychee Fruit Seed
What is Lychee Fruit Seed?
Lychee Fruit Seed (li zhi he, 荔枝核), also known as Semen Litchi, comes from Lychee (Litchi chinensis), a member of the soapberry family. Lychee is a tropical fruit that is native to China but is now grown in many parts of the world. It has a rough, reddish-brown outer skin that is inedible and must be peeled to reveal the juicy, translucent white flesh inside. The flesh surrounds a hard, brown seed.
Lychee has a sweet, floral flavor and a fragrant aroma. It is often enjoyed fresh or used in various desserts, such as sorbets, ice creams, and fruit salads. In addition to its delicious taste, Lychee is also a good source of several vitamins, minerals and healthy oxidants. The history of the cultivation of Lychee goes as far back as 2000 BC. According to Chinese records, the Chinese Imperial Court served Lychee as a delicacy for the royals.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Lychee Fruit Seed falls under the category of ‘Herbs that regulate qi”. Such herbs can typically treat Qi Stagnation, which refers to the blockage of qi in the body’s organs and meridians, such as the stomach, Liver and the Lungs. Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability and mood swings.
Warm in nature, Lychee Fruit Seed can help individuals with too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance in the body. Bitter and sweet in taste, Lychee Fruit Seed has a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. Also, Lychee Fruit Seed can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Lychee Fruit Seed targets the Kidneys and the Liver.
Functions and Benefits of Lychee Fruit Seed
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Lychee Fruit Seed has the following health benefits.
Lychee Fruit Seed can promote the movement of qi and dissipate nodulation in the Liver meridian. Thus, this herb is used to treat symptoms such as hernia caused by Cold and distending pain in testicles. For hernia caused by cold, Lychee Fruit Seed is usually combined with other Cold-dispersing, pain-alleviating or nodulation-dissipating herbs such as Evodiae Fructus and Tangerine Seed to enhance its effectiveness.
Lychee Fruit Seed can also soothe the Liver and harmonize the stomach. Combined with its actions of promoting the movement of qi and alleviating pain, Lychee Fruit Seed can treat the disharmony of Liver and stomach due to Liver Qi Stagnation, manifested as symptoms such as gastric pain and abdominal pain. For dysmenorrhea and postpartum abdominal pain due to Liver Qi Stagnation and Blood Stasis, Lychee Fruit Seed can be combined with other Liver-soothing and qi-regulating herbs to enhance its effectiveness.
In addition, Northern India uses powdered Lychee Fruit Seed to treat digestive disorders.
How to Use Lychee Fruit Seed
The recommended daily dosage of Lychee Fruit Seed is 5 – 10g, when consumed as a decoction. Traditionally, Lychee Fruit Seed powder is used to make tea for consumption.
Do note that the seeds have to be crushed before cooking or made into decoctions. Up to 24g of Lychee Fruit Seed may be used for severe abdominal pain.
Lychee Fruit Seed and its supplements can be found in Asian markets, herbal stores and specialty stores.
Cautions and Side Effects of Lychee Fruit Seed
Lychee Fruit Seed should not be used by individuals who are not experiencing syndromes caused by Damp-Cold.
Also, Lychee Fruit Seed should not be taken together with insulin, sulfonylureas and other antidiabetics. This may cause a synergistic effect leading to hypoglycemia.
In addition, Lychee Fruit Seed contains potent toxic compounds known as hypoglycin A. Overconsumption of these seeds could cause hypoglycemic encephalopathy, otherwise known as a coma, induced by extremely low blood sugar levels.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Lychee Fruit Seed to your healthcare routine!
Here is a summary for Lychee Fruit Seed:
- Herb name (Chinese): 荔枝核
- Herb name (Pin Yin): lì zhī hé
- Herb name (English): Lychee Seed
- Herb name (Botanical): Semen Litchi
- Origin of species: Litchi chinensis Sonn.
- Part(s) of herb used: Seed
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, slightly bitter; Warm; Administrates the Liver and Stomach Meridians
- Actions: Eases pains in the pubic region or due to hernia conditions; Calms chronic stomach discomforts or pains relating to menstruation or after childbirth
Anjum, J., Lone, R., & Wani, K. A. (2017). Lychee (Litchi chinensis): Biochemistry, Panacea, and Nutritional Value. Lychee Disease Management, 237-256.[Accessed on 14th February 2023]
Sun, W., Shahrajabian, M. H., Shen, H., & Cheng, Q. (2021). Lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.), the king of fruits, with both traditional and modern pharmacological health benefits. Pharmacognosy Communications, 11(1), 22-25. [Accessed on 14th February 2023]
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