Buddha’s Hand (Fo Shou)

fingered citronBuddha’s hand is a kind of fruit from a variant of citron. It is oddly shaped. This is simply because when the fruit ripens all its carpels separate from each other and form elongated, curved shapes. As a result, each carpel appears like a single finger and the whole fruit looks like a Buddha hand. It is native to northeastern India and China. There it is better known as Fo Shou. Thanks to its versatility, Buddhist hand fruit is so popular that it is widely used as Chinese herb, preserved fruit, and ornamental plant these days.

What is Buddha hand?

Also known as Fructus Citri Sarcodactylis, in TCM it refers to the dried fruit of Citrus medica L. var. Sarcodactylis Swingle, a fragrant variety in the Citrus genus (Rutaceae). Medicinally it is harvested during autumn when the fruits start to turn yellow. After the harvest, they are sliced vertically into sheets, and dried in the sun or under low temperature.

Medicinally the dried Buddha fingers fruit is elliptical or oval slices, 6 to 10cm long, 3 to 7cm wide, 0.2 to 0.4cm thick, and often wrinkled or curled. The top is slightly wider, often with 3 to 5 finger-like sections. The base is slightly narrow and some come with fruit stem scars. Outer rind is yellow-green or orange, and with wrinkles and oil spots. Pulp is pale yellowish white and scattered with uneven wirelike or dotted vascular bundle. It is hard and brittle, and turns pliable after affected with damp. It has lovely lemon-like floral aroma and slightly sweet bitter flavor.

Buddah hand fruit contains volatile oil and coumarin compounds. Main chemical constituents are bergapten, limonin, aurantiamarin, diosmin, and so on.

Buddha’s hand benefits

As above, Buddha hand citron can be served for many health benefits. Now you can understand this amazing herb more from the point of view of modern pharmacology.

Modern pharmacological actions

1. Alcohol extract of Buddah’s hand fruit can significantly inhibit intestinal smooth muscle;
2. Alcohol extract of hand of Buddha fruit can dilate the coronary blood vessels and increase coronary blood flow. When in high concentration, it inhibits myocardial contractility, slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and protects experimental myocardial ischemia;
3. Buddhas hand citrus relieves asthma and eliminates phlegm to some degree;
4. The fructus citri sarcodactylis polysaccharide contained in Buddha hands fruit plays an important role in supporting immune function. That being said, it promotes the phagocytic function of peritoneal macrophage, and tremendously fights against the cyclophosphamide-induced immune dysfunction.

Proven Buddhas hand fruit related herbal remedies

As a common Chinese herb, it is viewed as acrid, bitter, and sour in taste and warm in properties. It covers 3 meridians of liver, spleen, and lung. Its most important functions are stretching liver to smooth Qi and harmonizing stomach to relieve the pain. Main Buddhas hand citron uses and indications are liver-stomach Qi depression, fullness in chest and rib cage, fullness or distension or pain in the stomach, reduced appetite and vomiting, and so on. Recommended hand Buddha dosage is from 3 to 6 grams in decoction.

1. Cough by vital energy and phlegm stagnation. According to Min Nan Min Jian Cao Yao (Folk Herbal Medicine In Minnan), Buddha hand decoration in the dose of 2 to 3 Qian is a good formula for phlegm-Qi induced cough.
2. Tympanites and swell. According to Lingnan Cai Yao Lu (Records of Gathering Medicinal Herbs of Lingnan), the combination of Buddha hand citrus and (Hominis Urinae Sedimentum) can cure tympanites and swell.
3. Leukorrhea. According to Folk Herbal Medicine In Minnan, the hand of Buddha coupling with small intestine of pig works for diseases of gynecology.
4. Hepatitis A. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Dictionary, Buddha citron combining with Bai Jiang Cao (Patrina) treats infantile infectious hepatitis A.

Buddha’s hand fruit recipes

This herb is rich in nutrients, such as carbohydrates, crude fiber, ash, limettin, and so on. Hence, it is mostly used for medicinal purposes and made into tea and essential oil. What’s more, it is often used for dietary therapy too. As for how to cook this herb to make full use of its benefits, here are some awesome recipes for your reference.

Fingered citron fruit porridge

Health benefits: fortify spleen and nourish stomach, regulate the flow of qi to alleviate pain
Ingredients: polished round-grained rice 100g, fingered citron 15g, crystal sugar 30g
Directions: decoct finger citron fruit, remove the residue, put in the rice and crystal sugar, and then cook them into porridge.

Citrus fingers drink

Health benefits: whet the appetite, soothing-liver regulating qi
Ingredients: hand citron 15g, white granulated sugar 30g
Directions: brew fingered citron with hot water, and then add in sugar.

Potential Buddha s hand side effects and contraindications

According to TCM theory, use Buddha’s hand fruit with care in cases of deficiency of vital energy due to prolonged dysentery and fire excess from yin deficiency without qi stagnation.

2 thoughts on “Buddha’s Hand (Fo Shou)

  1. Elizabeth Teevans

    This was the first time for me , seeing this beautiful fruit in my local mid-western supermarket. The smell and beautiful color primarily captured my attention. After reading the info supplied above I am certainly intrigued!
    I am not familiar with qi…. Your help please!

    1. admin Post author

      Qi or Chi, literally translated, means “gas”, “air”, or “breath”. But in traditional Chinese culture it is a more complicated, abstract notion that is hard to define in a few words. Similarly, there is no a counterpart in English even though traditionally it is often translated as “energy flow”, “life force”, or “natural energy”. But apparently these words fail to cover the full picture of Qi. And if time permits I will talk more on this topic in the future.


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