Peach kernels

Chinese: 桃仁

Pinyin: Táo Rén

Parts used: Dried ripe seed

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLarge intestineLiver

Scientific name: Prunus persica or Prunus davidiana

Use of peach kernels (Táo 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: Once ripe, the fruit is harvested and the flesh and outer shell are removed. The seeds are kept and dried.

Dosage: 5 - 10 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Moves Blood and breaks up Stasis. Moistens the Intestines. Relieves coughing.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which peach kernels may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Irregular menstruation Amenorrhea Dysmenorrhea Constipation Abdominal pain

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant women.

Common TCM formulas in which peach kernels are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind peach kernels' properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), peach kernels are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stasis in the case of certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore peach kernels are plants that are Neutral in nature. This means that peach kernels 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 peach kernels means that you don't have to worry about that!

Peach kernels 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 peach kernels 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 peach kernels are thought to target the Heart, the Large intestine and the Liver. 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 Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. The Liver 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.

Research on peach kernels

Guizhi Fuling capsule (consisting of Peach kernels) achieved obvious effects in the treatment of uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, dysmenorrheal, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, breast hyperplasia and other gynecological diseases.1.

Glycosides isolated from Prunus persica seeds were shown to have anti-tumor promoting effects by significantly inhibiting the Epstein-Barr virus early antigen activation induced by tumor promoters.2.

Sources:

1. Su ZZ, Li N, Cao L, Wang TJ, Zhang CF, Ding G, Wang ZZ, Xiao W. (2015). Main progress on studies of pharmacological activities and clinical applications of Guizhi Fuling capsule. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. , 40(6):989-92.

2. Toshiyuki Fukuda, Hideyuki Ito, Teruo Mukainaka, Harukuni Tokuda, Hoyoku Nishino, Takashi Yoshida (2003). "Anti-tumor Promoting Effect of Glycosides from Prunus persica Seeds". Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. Volume 26, issue 2, pages 271-273