Biota seeds

Chinese: 柏子仁

Pinyin: Bó Zi Rén

Parts used: Dried ripe seeds

TCM category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLarge intestine

Scientific name: Platycladus orientalis

Other names: Chinese thuja seeds, Oriental arborvitae seeds, Oriental thuja seeds

Use of biota seeds (Bó Zi Rén) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: After harvest dry the seeds and remove the seed coats in order to collect the kernels.

Dosage: 3 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Nourishes the Heart and calms the Spirit. Moistens the Intestines and relieves constipation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which biota seeds may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Insomnia Restlessness Depression Night sweats Constipation Palpitations

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with diarrhea nor should it be used for conditions of Phlegm.

Common TCM formulas in which biota seeds are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind biota seeds' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), biota seeds are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit' category. These herbs are substances that tranquilize the mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. They tend to have sedative properties by tonifying Heart Yin and Blood as in TCM it is believed that the Heart is the store of the mind.

Furthermore biota seeds are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that biota seeds typically don't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin excess. The Neutral nature of biota seeds means that you don't have to worry about that!

Biota seeds also taste Sweet. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sweet ingredients like biota seeds tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such biota seeds are thought to target the Heart, the Kidney and the Large intestine. In addition to regulating blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Large Intestine receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces.

Research on biota seeds

N-butanol extract from the seeds of Platycladus orientalis (BSPO) significantly extended the lifespan of C. elegans in a concentration dependent manner under normal culture conditions and stress. This lifespan-extension effect could be attributed to BSPO's direct ROS scavenging activity, reducing the amount of lipofuscin and increasing the expression of gens associated with resistance to stress.1

Sources:

1. H Liu, F Liang, W Su, N Wang, M Lv, P Li, Z Pei et al. (2013). Lifespan extension by n-butanol extract from seed of Platycladus orientalis in Caenorhabditis elegans. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 147(2): 366-372. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2013.03.019