Lychee seeds

Chinese: 荔枝核

Pinyin: Lì Zhī Hé

Parts used: Dried ripe seeds

TCM category: Herbs that regulate Qi

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Scientific name: Litchi chinensis

Other names: Litchi, Liechee, Liche or lichee

Use of lychee seeds (Li Zhi He) 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: Crush the seeds and boil them in salty water until the water is dried.

Dosage: 5 - 10 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Promotes the flow of the Qi and reduces nodules. Dispels cold and relieves pain.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which lychee seeds may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Hernial pain Testicular pain Abdominal pain Edema

Common TCM formulas in which lychee seeds are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind lychee seeds (Li Zhi He)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lychee seeds are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that regulate Qi' category. Herbs in this category typically treat a TCM condition called 'Qi Stagnation'. Concretely it means that Qi is blocked in the body's Organs and Meridians, most typically the Stomach, Liver, and to a lesser extent, the Lungs. In modern medicine terms, Qi Stagnation often translates into psychological consequences such as depression, irritability or mood swings. It's also frequently associated with conditions such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, the development of breast swellings as well as various digestive disorders.

Furthermore lychee seeds are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that lychee seeds 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 lychee seeds can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Lychee seeds also taste Bitter and 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. Bitter ingredients like lychee seeds tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing heat, drying dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. 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 lychee seeds are thought to target the Kidney and the Liver. 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 Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and body fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.