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Longans

Chinese: 龙眼肉

Pinyin: Lóng Yǎn Ròu

Parts used: Dried flesh of the fruit

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Spleen Heart

Scientific name: Dimocarpus longan

Other names: Dragon's Eye

Use of longans (Long Yan Rou) 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: Remove shell and seed, dry them until they aren't sticky anymore.

Dosage: 6 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Nourishes the Blood. Calms the spirit. Relieves fatigue, especially mental fatigue.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which longans may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Palpitations Insomnia Fatigue Anemia Restlessness

Contraindications*: Not for conditions of Dampness and Heat.

Common TCM formulas in which longans (Long Yan Rou) are used*

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Conditions targeted*: Nervous exhaustionMyasthenia gravis and others

Long Yan Rou is a deputy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Gui Pi Tang, Long Yan Rou "roots" and calms the Mind (Shen) by tonifying the Blood.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang

Key TCM concepts behind longans (Long Yan Rou)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), longans are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Blood tonics tend to be bitter-sweet with either a Warm or neutral nature. Because the Liver stores Blood, all Blood tonics enter that Organ's Channel.

As suggested by its category longans are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that longans tend to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess(because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition longans can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Longans also taste 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. Sweet ingredients like longans 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 longans are thought to target the Spleen and the Heart. 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.

Research on longans (Long Yan Rou)

Longan fruit pericarp has strong antioxidant properties as well as some anticancer properties.1

Sources:

1. K. Nagendra Prasad, Jing Hao, John Shi, Ting Liu, Jiang Li, Xiaoyi Wei, Shengxiang Qiu, Sophia Xue, Yueming Jiang (2009). Antioxidant and anticancer activities of high pressure-assisted extract of longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.) fruit pericarp. Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, 10(4): 413-419. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ifset.2009.04.003.

Use of longans (Long Yan Rou) as food

Longans are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Longan Cheesecake or Lemon Chicken with Longan.