Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi)
What is Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi)?
Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (bu gu zhi, 补骨脂), also known as Malaytea Scurfpea Fruit or Babchi, is a herb that is native to West Asia and found in China and Vietnam. The plant grows to a height of approximately two feet, and it prospers in moist soil.
As early as 1400 BC, Indian doctors were using boiled extracts of Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) to help treat vitiligo, a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes patches of skin to lose pigment or colour. Today, Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia remains to be a major source of psoralens for the treatment of vitiligo.
After being harvested in the fall while ripe, the herb is then dried in the sun for medicinal usage. The herb can be left raw, or stir-baked with salt water before being incorporated into herbal remedies.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) falls under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency’. This herb can be used for patterns of Deficiency by replenishing one’s ‘Four Treasures’ (qi, blood, yin, yang). Warm in nature, Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia 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.
Bitter and pungent in taste, Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination and bowel movements. Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) can also promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, the herb targets the Spleen and the Kidneys.
Functions and Benefits of Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) has the following benefits:
Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) can warm the Kidneys and tonify yang. Due to its strong properties in fortifying yang, Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) can secure essence, reduce urination, improve sexual performance, address premature ejaculation, as well as cold and painful lower back. The herb is thus indicated for seminal emission, spermatorrhea, enuresis and frequent urination caused by Kidney Deficiency. Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia is also suitable for the treatment of impotence, Cold-pain, atrophy-flaccidity and limpness in lumbar and knees due to Kidney Yang Deficiency.
Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) can address diarrhea caused by Cold in the Spleen and Kidneys, as it can supplement and warm the two meridians to check diarrhoea. In addition, Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) can relieve dyspnea by tonifying the Kidneys to promote qi. Its ability to aid the Kidneys to grasp Lung qi also helps to relieve wheezing and asthma.
Some healthcare practitioners believe that the herb can treat tinea versicolor. Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) is also applied topically for skin lesions such as alopecia, psoriasis, vitiligo.
Modern studies suggest that Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) may be used to manage various skin diseases such as leucoderma, a condition of discolouration of the skin. The extract may be used in ointments or gels for topical application. The herb can also help to manage itches associated with the condition. Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) may also aid in managing leprosy.
The Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia extract is also found to be potentially effective in destroying the cancer cells of osteosarcoma and lung cancer, as well as to be potentially effective in managing various dental disorders. As the herb can boost bone calcification to improve bone density, it may be beneficial for dealing with osteoporosis and bone fractures.
How to Use Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi)
The recommended dosage of Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) is 3 – 9g, when taken as a decoction. Some healthcare practitioners may recommend a slightly higher dose of 5 – 10g, depending on the exact condition being treated. The dosage can go even higher if Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia is being applied topically.
Dried Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) can be found in certain Asian markets and herbal shops. The herb also comes in forms such as powder in certain herbal stores. The powdered form is commonly available, and is often used to make herbal decoctions. When stir-baked with salt, the herb’s action of tonifying the Kidneys is enhanced.
Cautions and Side Effects of Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi)
Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) should not be used by individuals experiencing Yin Deficiency or constipation. Examples of Yin Deficiency symptoms include dry mouth, dry and sore throat, and nocturnal emissions.
Pregnant or breastfeeding ladies should also stay away from this herb for the time being.
Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) should not be used in large doses. Some varieties of Psoralea contain substances called furanocoumarins, which can cause photosensitivity in some individuals. Psoralea also contains another substance called psoralen, which can cause the skin to produce new pigment when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Hence, individuals with sensitive skin or sunburn easily should avoid consuming this herb in undiluted, large amounts. Otherwise, it may cause the following side effects:
- Skin discolouration
- Gastritis Irritation or burning sensation on the skin
- Rapid breathing
- Blurred vision
In addition, when applied to the skin, the herb bears a risk of causing allergic reactions.
While using Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi) for leucoderma, it is also advised to avoid consuming it along with curd, pickles or fish.
Other side effects of consuming the herb include nausea, vomiting, sleeplessness and renal complications. We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before adding Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia to your healthcare routine.
Here is a summary for Fructus Psoralea Corylifolia (Bu Gu Zhi):
- Herb name (Chinese): 补骨脂
- Herb name (Pin Yin): bǔ gǔ zhī
- Herb name (English): Malaytea Scurfpea Fruit
- Herb name (Botanical): Fructus Psoraleae
- Origin of species: Psoralea corylifolia L.
- Part(s) of herb used: Fruit
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Shaanxi, Henan, Shanxi, Jiangxi, Anhui, Guangdong, Sichuan, Yunnan
- Taste(s) & Properties: Bitter, pungent; Warm; Administrates the Spleen and Kidney Meridians
- Actions: Eases symptoms of erectile dysfunction, weak knees and sore lower back; Helpful for those who display symptoms of premature ejaculation and frequent urination; Help relieve digestive conditions with diarrhoea usually in the early morning
Zhang, X., Zhao, W., Wang, Y., Lu, J., & Chen, X. (2016). The chemical constituents and bioactivities of Psoralea corylifolia Linn.: a review. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 44(01), 35-60. [Accessed on 9th November 2022]
Alam, F., Khan, G. N., & Asad, M. H. H. B. (2018). Psoralea corylifolia L: Ethnobotanical, biological, and chemical aspects: A review. Phytotherapy Research, 32(4), 597-615.[Accessed on 9th November 2022]
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