Grosvenor Momordica Fruit (Monk Fruit)
What is Grosvenor Momordica Fruit (Monk Fruit)?
Grosvenor Momordica Fruit (luo han guo, 罗汉果), also known as Monk Fruit, is a small and melon-like fruit that has grew in Southern China for hundred of years. The fruit has gotten its name from the Buddhist Monks who grew it in China many centuries ago. Monk Fruit comes from the same food family as gourds like pumpkin and melon, known as the Cucurbitaceae family.
Monk Fruit is a famous sweetener in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) prescriptions as it is naturally very sweet. It is almost 200 times sweeter than sugar, and its sweetness comes from the antioxidants in the fruit itself.
Also, due to its amazing health benefits on cough relief, colon cleansing, weight loss and physique enhancement, this fruit is also nicknamed as “the immortals’ fruit”. Many families in China like to use Luo Han Guo to make tea during Summer to treat coughs and colds caused by season changes.
In TCM, Monk Fruit falls under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency’. This herb can be used for patterns of deficiency to replenish one’s ‘Four Treasures’ (qi, blood, yin, yang). Cool in nature, Monk Fruit can help individuals who have too much Heat in their body, such as those who are experiencing a Yang Excess or Yin Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance.
Sweet in taste, Monk Fruit can help to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. It also has a tonic effect on the human body because it replenishes qi and blood. In particular, Monk Fruit targets the Large Intestine and the Lungs.
Functions and Benefits of Monk Fruit
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Monk Fruit has 2 main functions:
Firstly, Monk Fruit can help to moisten and cool the Lungs to treat Lung Yin Deficiency. Thus, the fruit is often used to relieve coughs, soothe sore throats, reduce yellow phlegm and other throat discomfort caused by Heat. For individuals who feel that their throat is starting to hurt or is currently experiencing dryness in their mouth, Monk Fruit serves as a great remedy. Also, Monk Fruit can help to nourish yin in the Lungs, which is why it can help to dissipate nodules and swollen glands, as well as to maintain good throat and vocal health.
Secondly, Monk Fruit can lubricate the Intestines to unblock bowels and relieve constipation.
Other than the above Monk Fruit benefits, modern research has also shown that Monk Fruit contains anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which helps to boost the immune system and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. This means that Monk Fruit may be able to help us prevent and fight against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease.
Monk Fruit may also promote weight loss as it contains no calories, carbohydrates or fat. Hence, people may reduce their calorie intake by substituting their sugar source with Monk Fruit sweeteners. The fruit may also fight infections with its antibiotic properties.
Also, Monk Fruit is nicknamed as “the immortals’ fruit” for a reason. That is because it can slow down the aging process of our body by reducing the inflammation and degeneration of body cells. Thus, the fruit can fight free radicals in the body, fight infections, boost energy levels and prevent rapid ageing.
Other than that, Luo Han Guo benefits also include the lowering of the risk of heart attacks and strokes by preventing the oxidizing of cholesterol. It prevents cholesterol from building up in the body, and may even improve cardiovascular functions.
How to Use Monk Fruit
As Monk Fruit has a very short shelf life, it is most often available as dried fruit or processed Monk Fruit beverages, such as Luo Han Guo tea in grocery stores and herbal stores. Monk Fruit is sometimes available in other forms such as Luo Han Guo extract too.
Monk Fruit is also available as a sweetener, which people can use as a sugar alternative to add into many foods and drinks, such as coffee, lemonade, smoothies, oatmeal and fruit juice.
However, Monk Fruit sweeteners are not suitable as sugar alternatives in baked goods that need sugar for texture and structure.
Cautions and Side Effects of Monk Fruit
As of this writing, there are no scientifically proven side effects and drug interactions when it comes to Monk Fruit. Some suspected side effects of Monk Fruit include gas and bloating, and a possible tendency to induce over-eating.
Also, in TCM, it is believed that individuals who are experiencing Cold Deficiency in the Spleen or Stomach should avoid consuming Monk Fruit.
Here is a summary for Monk Fruit:
- Herb name (Chinese): 罗汉果
- Herb name (Pin Yin): luó hàn guǒ
- Herb name (English): Grosvenor Momordica Fruit
- Herb name (Botanical): Fructus Siraitiae
- Origin of species: Siraitia grosvenorii (Swingle)
- Part(s) of herb used: Fruit
- Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangxi
- Taste(s) & Properties: Sweet; Cool; Administrates the Lung and Large Intestine Meridians
- Actions: Eases coughs and sore throats; Relieves constipation.
Tey, S. L., Salleh, N. B., Henry, J., & Forde, C. G. (2017). Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia-and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin and energy intake. International journal of obesity, 41(3), 450-457.[Accessed on 25th September 2022]
Williamson, E. M., Liu, X., & Izzo, A. A. (2020). Trends in use, pharmacology, and clinical applications of emerging herbal nutraceuticals. British Journal of Pharmacology, 177(6), 1227-1240.[Accessed on 25th September 2022]
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