Adzuki Beans (Chi Xiao Dou)

adzuki beanAdzuki beans, also known as Chi Xiao Dou in China, are rich in starch, which is the exact reason why sometimes it is also called “rice bean”. Thanks to its awesome performance in promoting the secretion of saliva and body fluid, inducing urination, eliminating bloating, reducing swelling, and stopping vomiting, it was highly regarded by Li ShiZhen, one of greatest herbalists in TCM history, as Grain of the Heart.

What are adzuki beans?

This herb has a few other names, such aduki, azuki beans, and Vigna umbellata (Thunb.) Ohwi et Ohashi. In TCM’s view, it refers to the seeds of Phaseolus calcaratus Roxb. or Phaseolus angularis Wight. Both of the plants are an annual vine in the family of Leguminosae. Adzuki bean is a type of small beans, which are compared to the large beans of soybean. There are three or four varieties of them, such as red bean (hongdou or chidou), white bean, and green bean (mung beans).

Dried adzuki bean is slightly cylindrical and flat, 5 to 7mm long, about 3mm in diameter, and with brown or purple-brown testa. It is smooth, hard, white, and slightly shiny. It also comes with a white linear hilum tilting to one side, which tends to sag into a longitudinal groove in the middle, about 2/3 of the whole length. And an inconspicuous ridge is usually found on the back. Two white seeds would show if the seed coat is removed. It has slight odor and beany flavor if chewing. The preferred one is with dried trunk, full grains, and in the color of dark crimson. In China, it is mainly found in provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Jiangxi.

Adzuki beans health benefits

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that it is sweet, sour, and neutral in nature. It covers two meridians like heart and small intestine. Its main functions are to induce diuresis to alleviate edema and resolve toxin and expel pus. Its basic uses and indications are turgor and edema, swollen limbs due to beriberi, jaundice induced dark urine, wind-damp pyretic arthralgia, sores, carbuncles, acute appendicitis, and abdominal pain. Usual dosage is from 9 to 30 grams, in decoction normally.

Chemical composition

Adzuki bean contains saccharides and triterpenoidsaponin. Each 100g of them contain 20.7g protein, 0.5g fat, 58g carbohydrate, 4.9 crude fiber, 3.3g ash content, 67mg calcium, 305mg phosphorus, 5.2mg iron, 0.3lmg thiamine, 0.11mg riboflavine, 2.7mg nicotinic acid, and so on.

Pharmacologic action

It has diuretic effect, which is beneficial to sufferers of heart disease, kidney disease, and edema.

It is rich in folic acid, which is good for nursing mothers to promote lactation.

Other benefits of adzuki beans include relaxing bowel, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood pressure, regulating blood sugar, preventing stones, and helping weight loss.

Typical Chinese herbal formulas containing azuki bean

This herb is very popular in Chinese herbal remedies. For your references, some typical formulas are chosen as follows.

Chi Xiao Dou Dang Gui San

This prescription is selected from Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Coffer). This is a formula used to clear heat and promoting diuresis as well as harmonizing Ying to relieve internal heat or fever. The other herb involved is Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root).

Ma Huang Lian Qiao Chi Xiao Dou Tang

This formula is from Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage). It is formulated primarily for jaundice due to the accumulation of dampness and heat inside the body. Other major herbs include Ma Huang (Ephedrine), Lian Qiao (Forsythia), Xing Ren (Apricot Seed), zi bai pi (Cortex Caltalpae Ovatae), and so on.

Chi Xiao Dou Tang (adzuki bean soup)

This soup is from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence), and mainly designed for shortness of breath due to beriberi, difficult painful urination and bowel movement, swollen body, and foot swelling. Other prime herbs are Sang Bai Pi (Mulberry Root Bark), and Zi Su Ye (Perilla Leaf).

Chi Dou Yi Yi Tang

This recipe is from Yang Ke Jie Jing (Short Cut for Sore and Ulcer), and is exclusively for treatment of periappendicular abscess induced by the combination of stagnation of the circulation of vital energy, damp-heat, and stasis clot. Other basic herbs are Yi Yi Ren (Coix Seed), Fang Ji (Stephania), and Gan Cao (Licorice Root).

Adzuki bean recipes

Adzuki beans are also one of the necessary minor cereals thanks to their high nutrition and many benefits. So, how to cook adzuki beans to maximize its benefits? For your reference, here are the most popular ways of preparing adzuki beans, to name but a few.

Aduki stewing carp

Benefits: invigorating spleen, eliminating dampness, and curing barbiers
Ingredients: 90g aduki bean and 500g carp.
Directions: Clean and soak adzuki beans. And then boil them for about half an hour. After that put carp in casserole and stew them till well cooked.

Azuki rice

Benefits: alleviating water retention by diuresis, and lowering blood pressure
Ingredients: Azuki bean 50g, corn 50g, and rice 100g.
Directions: Clean all the above-mentioned ingredients. Put the first two into the pot, add 400ml water, and cook for half an hour over a low flame. And then add in the rice and the right amount of water and continue cooking till it is done.

Adzuki wax gourd porridge

Benefits: inducing diuresis to alleviate edema
Ingredients: wax gourd 500g, adzuki 30g, and rice 60g.
Directions: Peel and dice wax gourd and wash the rest ingredients. First put in the latter two and boil them into soup. And then put in rice to cook into porridge.

Red bean refreshing porridge

Benefits: relieving summer heat and removing dampness
Ingredients: lentils 15g, half sheet lotus leaf, red bean 30g, Chinese yam 15g, gossampinus malabarica flower 15g, Coix 30g, and rush pith 3g.
Directions: put in the pot with all the above-mentioned ingredients, add appropriate amount of water and cook them with slow fire till the bean is soft enough.

Potential adzuki bean’s side effects and contraindications

TCM thinks that long-time consumption of adzuki Beans (Chi Xiao Dou) is inadvisable. Otherwise, it may make people lean and tan, and lead to the accumulation of dry feces. What’s more, it should be avoided by the Yin deficiency with no damp-heat and by those bitten by snakes within one hundred days.

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