English: Foxnut seeds

Chinese: 芡实

Parts used: Dried kernels of ripe seeds

TCM category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): SourSweet

Organ affinity: Kidney Spleen

Scientific name: Euryale ferox

Other names: Fox nut, Gorgon nut, Makhana, Gordon Euryale

Use of Qian Shi (foxnut seeds) 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 practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Harvest the mature fruits, remove the peel, remove the seeds, keep the kernels (outer seed shell), wash and dry.

Dosage: 9 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Spleen and stops diarrhea. Strengthens the Kidneys and restrains Essence. Dispels Dampness and relieves leukorrhea.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Qian Shi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Leukorrhea Diarrhea Premature ejaculation Urinary incontinence Spermatorrhea Vaginal discharge Enuresis

Common TCM formulas in which Qian Shi is used*

Yi Huang Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthens the Spleen. Dries Dampness. Clears Heat. Stops vaginal discharge.

Conditions targeted*: CervicitisCervical erosion and others

Qian Shi is a king ingredient in Yi Huang Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Yi Huang Tang, Qian Shi tonifies the Kidneys and the Spleen and binds up the discharge. It also works with  Shan Yao (Yam)  to tonify the Directing Vessel Deficiency.

Read more about Yi Huang Tang

Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Stabilizes the Kidneys. Binds up the semen.

Conditions targeted*: Sexual dysfunctionChyluria and others

Qian Shi is a deputy ingredient in Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Jin Suo Gu Jing Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Qian Shi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qian Shi belongs to the 'Herbs that stabilize and bind' category. This category of herbs is used for treating abnormal discharges and displacement of Organs. This includes conditions such as diarrhea, discharges from the vagina, penis or rectum as well as prolapse of the Uterus or rectum. It is important to note that herbs in this category only treat symptoms, so one should also use herbs to treat the underlying Deficiency.

Furthermore Qian Shi is Neutral in nature. This means that Qian Shi typically doesn'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 Qian Shi means that you don't have to worry about that!

Qian Shi also tastes Sour and Sweet. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sour ingredients like Qian Shi helps with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating. On the other hand Sweet ingredients 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 Qian Shi is thought to target the Kidney and the Spleen. According to TCM, 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 Spleen on the other hand assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body.

Research on Qian Shi

Foxnuts have cardioprotective properties that may be linked with their ability to induce TRP32 and Trx-1 proteins and to scavenge ROS.1

Euryale ferox contains a significant antioxidant activity.2


1. Das, S., Der, P., Raychaudhuri, U. et al. (2006). "The Effect of Euryale Ferox (Makhana), an Herb of Aquatic Origin, on Myocardial Ischemic Reperfusion Injury". Mol Cell Biochem, 289: 55.

2. SE Lee, EM Ju, JH Kim (2002). "Antioxidant activity of extracts from Euryale ferox seed". Experimental & Molecular Medicine volume 34, pages 100–106 doi:10.1038/emm.2002.15

Use of Qian Shi as food

Qian Shi is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Roasted Makhana or Phool Makhana Curry.