What are Radish Seeds?
Radish Seed (lai fu zi, 莱菔子) refers to the mature seeds of Raphanus Sativus L. The radish is a type of vegetable that is believed to have originated in Western Asia, but is now cultivated worldwide. Many cultures use Radish as a food ingredient, and its seeds are a key ingredient in many herbal remedies of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Zhang Xi Chun, a famous physician in the 19th century, was full of praise for Radish Seeds and believed that it should be good at transforming qi, instead of breaking qi as it has widely been thought to be. Also, other ancient herbalists often compare the efficacy of Radish seeds to a force that can collapse walls because of its perceived healing ability.
Medicinally, the plant is harvested during Summertime when its fruits are ripe. Afterwards, the plant is dried under the sun, rubbed to extract the seeds, cleansed to remove the impurities, and dried once again. The herb can be used raw or fried, and it can be consumed whole, sliced, ground into powder or crushed into a type of juice. However, it has to be smashed first before decocting.
In TCM, Radish Seeds fall under the category of ‘Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation’. It possesses digestive properties to aid digestion in the body. Neutral in nature, Radish Seeds do not affect the yin-yang balance in the body. Pungent and sweet in taste, the herb can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids in the body. Also, it can slow down acute reactions, detoxify the body, and has a tonic effect on the body by replenishing qi and blood. In particular, Radish Seeds target the Lungs, the Spleen and the stomach.
Functions and Benefits of Radish Seeds
According to TCM, it is believed that Radish Seeds have the following health benefits:
Radish Seeds can promote digestion and dissipate Food Stagnation to promote the movement of qi and relieve distention. The herb can treat stomach-related diseases such as acid reflux and bad breath. For gastric and abdominal distension or pain caused by food retention and Qi Stagnation, Radish Seeds are usually combined with other qi moving and digestion promoting herbs. For Food Stagnation complicated with Spleen Deficiency, it is combined with Spleen-invigorating and qi tonifying herbs for both elimination and reinforcement. Hence, many people like to drink white radish and ginger soup after consuming a heavy meal.
Not only can Radish Seeds promote digestion, it can also direct qi downwards and resolve phlegm. There is a TCM quote that says: “Phlegm is stored in the Lungs, but produced from the Spleen.” The herb can thus address cough and dyspnea with profuse sputum, oppression in chest with Food Stagnation, asthma and other related symptoms.
Other than the above Radish Seed benefits, modern studies have shown that Radish Seeds possess high amounts of Vitamin B and C, as well as various minerals and antioxidants. These seeds can thus help to improve skin health by reducing oxidative stress. They can relieve dry and cracked skin, lessen the appearance of lines, wrinkles, age spots and blemishes.
Certain flavonoids found in Radish Seeds are also able to protect the cardiovascular system from diseases such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. Radish Seeds are high in calcium, which makes it a great herb to improve bone health, prevent osteoporosis and increase bone mineral density. In addition, Radish Seeds have demonstrated potential to fight cancer.
For a very long period of time, Radish Seeds have also been prescribed as a traditional remedy for kidney stones. This is because of their diuretic properties, which can break down clumps of oxalic acid and other hardened stones in the Kidneys. These seeds can also stimulate the function of the Liver and reduce the levels of toxins in your blood.
How to Use Radish Seeds
The recommended dosage of Radish Seeds are 6 – 10g, when decocted in water for oral consumption. Radish Seeds can also be crushed to make juice. To increase the efficiency of the herb in promoting digestion, directing qi downwards and resolving Phlegm, you can stir-bake the herb before usage.
Whole radishes can be found in supermarkets, and Radish Seeds are available in many Asian markets and herbal shops. Radish Seeds are sold in many forms: whole, dried, powders, part of larger herbal formulas and supplements.
Radish Seeds can be added to salads, herbal vinegars, seasonings, pickling brines, barbeque sauces, soups and herbal teas. They make a great pairing with brown mustard seeds in condiments and spice mixes.
Cautions and Side Effects of Radish Seeds
Radish Seeds should be used with caution by patients suffering from Qi Deficiency. Individuals experiencing nausea should also avoid this herb for the time being. Also, this herb should not be used in conjunction with Ginseng as this will undermine its power in addressing Deficiency in the body.
Clinical studies have also confirmed that Radish Seeds may cause rashes when combined with He Shou Wu and Shu Di Huang. Certain studies have also shown that Radish Seeds can interact with the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin.
We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before adding Radish Seeds to your healthcare routine.
Here is a summary for Radish Seed:
- Herb name (Chinese): 莱菔子
- Herb name (Pin Yin): lái fú zǐ
- Herb name (English): Radish Seed
- Herb name (Botanical): Semen Raphani
- Origin of species: Raphanus sativus L.
- Part(s) of herb used: Seed
- Geo-specific habitat(s): All parts of China
- Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, sweet; Neutral; Administrates the Lung, Spleen and Stomach meridians
- Actions: Relieves indigestion and bloatedness; Eases coughs with excessive oral discharge
Banihani, S. A. (2017). Radish (Raphanus sativus) and diabetes. Nutrients, 9(9), 1014. [Accessed on 16th November 2022]
Seran, T. H., & Brintha, I. (2009). Biological and economic efficiency of radish (Raphanus sativus L.) intercropped with vegetable amaranthus (Amaranthus tricolor L.). The Open Horticulture Journal, 2(1).[Accessed on 16th November 2022]
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