English: Japanese raisin tree seeds

Chinese: 枳椇子

Parts used: Dried ripe seeds

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): SourSweet

Organ affinity: Spleen Heart Lung

Scientific name: Hovenia dulcis, Hovenia acerba or Hovenia trichocarpa

Other names: Oriental raisin tree seeds

Use of Zhi Ju Zi (japanese raisin tree 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: Collect seeds and dry them

Dosage: 6-15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears toxins accumulated from alcoholic drinks. Relieves thirst and eases the mind. Stops vomiting, alleviates dysuria and relieves constipation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Zhi Ju Zi may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Vomiting Constipation Hangover Dizziness Fever Excessive thirst Restlessness

Contraindications*: Not recommended for those have weak Stomach and Spleen due to Coldness.

Key TCM concepts behind Zhi Ju Zi's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Zhi Ju Zi belongs to the 'Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Yin tonics have a heavy, moist nature. They either nourish the Kidneys and Liver or moisten the Lungs and Stomach. Extreme Yin Deficiency often translates into a 'burn-out', unfortunately more and more common among people today. It is worth mentioning that another great remedy against Yin Deficiency is a lot of rest and sleep; no herb will ever be able to replace this!

Furthermore Zhi Ju Zi is Neutral in nature. This means that Zhi Ju Zi 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 Zhi Ju Zi means that you don't have to worry about that!

Zhi Ju Zi 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 Zhi Ju Zi 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 Zhi Ju Zi is thought to target the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on Zhi Ju Zi

Extracts from H. dulcis accelerate detoxification of ethanol, and possess hepatoprotective, antioxidative, antimicrobial and antidiabetic properties.1


1. Tae Kyung Hyun, Seung Hee Eom, Chang Yeon Yu, Thomas Roitsch (2010). Hovenia dulcis – An Asian Traditional Herb. Planta Med; 76: 943–949.