Celosia seeds, also called Qing Xiang Zi in Pinyin, is a popular medication in traditional Chinese medicine that is mainly for the treatment of painful and swollen eyes, high blood pressure, nose bleeds, and other complaints that are believed to be caused by flaring-up of liver fire. Celosia argentea is also known as “Taiwan’s lavender”. Compared to lavender, this plant seems rougher in appearance. However, it is not second to lavender in terms of availability – the whole celosia plant is used medicinally and its tender shoot is also a tasty edible wild vegetable. As a common Chinese herb, it comes from the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica. And in Tang Ben Cao (Tang Materia Medica), it is named “Kunlun grass” and allegedly ever used as a fan by Nu Wa, a goddess in Chinese mythology.
What are celosia seeds?
Medicinally it mainly refers to the dried ripe seeds from Celosia argentea L., one of ornamental and edible plants in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. Other names of celosia argentea include the silver cock’s comb and plumed cockscomb and celosia argentea seed is also known as Semen Celosiae in Latin. For ornamental purpose, people gather or buy celosia seeds for growing celosia from seed. In China it is produced in central and southern provinces. The plant is reaped or the ear is collected in autumn when the fruits are ripe. And then, it needs to dry them in the sun, gather celosia seeds, and remove the impurities. Medicinally it is used raw.
Celosia argentea is an annual herb, up to 1 meter in height. Erect stem is green or reddish purple and with longitudinal stripes. Alternate leaves are lanceolate or elliptic-lanceolate, 5 to 9cm long, and 1 to 3cm wide. Many and dense celosia flowers form cylindrical tower or spikes at the end of stems and branches. Spica is acrogenous or axillary; bracts, bracteoles and tepals are membranous and reddish or white later; bracts are 3; tepals are 5; stamens are 5 and the lower filaments grow like a cup; ovary is superior and stigma is 2-lobed. Utricle is oval. Seeds are flat, round, black, and shiny. Flowering time is from May to July and fruit time is from August to September.
Celosia argentea seeds contain about 15% fatty oil, 30.8% starch, about 14μg/g niacin, and a wealth of potassium nitrate. And the fatty oil contained in seeds is called celosia oil.
Celosia seeds health benefits
Clinical research confirms that this herb can be of great help in many diseases, especially on treating eye disorders and lowering high blood pressure.
(1). 5 cases of hypertension, an average of 160 to 230/100 to 135mmHg (21.28 to 30.59/13.3 to 17.955kPa), were ever treated with the decoction of 30 grams celosia seed, which was finished in 3 times daily. One week after the administration, blood pressure dropped to 125 to 145/78 to 90mmHg (16.625 to 19.285/10.374 to 11.97kPa).
(2). 156 cases of pinkeye were ever treated with the celosia seed-based formulas, 1 dose each day. And the results were fairly satisfactory.
Modern pharmacological actions of celosia argentea seed
1. It can lower blood pressure;
2. Oils contained have mydriatic effect;
3. Its decoction has a strong inhibitory effect on Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In the case of wound infection treated with 10% decoction, Pseudomonas aeruginosa stops growing. And the decoction has no significant stimulation to the wound;
4. Its dry powder can shorten rabbit plasma recalcification time;
5. Its decoction, 1ml equivalent to 1g crude drug, shows no significant effect on the normal rabbits’ pupils. After continuous medication for 6 days, there is a slight drop in intraocular pressure, which has significant difference compared to the control group. However, it fails to prevent the rising intraocular pressure after the water load.
Sample celosia seed recipes on herbal remedies
In line with the Chinese Materia Medica, it is bitter in flavor and cold in nature. It covers liver meridian. Primary functions are eliminating wind-heat, clearing liver-fire, and improving vision by removing nebula. Common celosia seeds uses and indications include red painful swollen eyes, slight corneal opacity, blurred vision, high blood pressure, nose bleeding, wind-heat skin itch, sores, and ringworm. Recommended dosage is from 3 to 15 grams in decoction.
1. Qing Xiang Wan from Zheng Zhi Zhun Sheng (The Level-line of Patterns and Treatment). It is combined with Jue Ming Zi (Cassia Seed), Chong Wei Zi (Fructus Leonuri), Ling Yang Jiao (Antelope Horns), etc. to treat red painful swollen eye, nebula, blurred vision, and other eye problems that is caused by flaming up of the liver-fire.
2. Qing Xiang Wan from Yi Zhong Jin Jian (Golden Mirror of the Medical Tradition). It is formulated with Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia), Xuan Shen (Scrophularia), Che Qian Zi (Plantain Seeds) to cure blurred vision due to the combination of liver deficiency and blood heat.
3. Lu Feng Huan Jing Wan from Golden Mirror of the Medical Tradition. It is joined with Tu Si Zi (Cuscuta), Rou Cong Rong (Fleshy Stem of Broomrape), Shan Yao (Chinese Yam), etc. to heal blurred vision and dry eyes.
4. Qing Xiang Tang from Zhong Yi Lin Chuang Ying Yong (TCM clinical application). It is coupled with Yuan Ming Fen (refined mirabilite), Suan Zao Ren (Semen Ziziphi Spinosae), Mi Meng Hua (Butterfly Bush), Cassia Seed, Fu Ling (Poria), and Bai Bian Dou (Hyacinth Bean) to treat chronic uveitis.
5. Ba Zi Wan from Yi Bu Quan Lu – Mu Men (A Comprehensive Record of Books on Medicine – Eye Chapter). It is equipped with Plantain Seeds, Wu Wei Zi (Fructus Schisandrae Chinensis), Gou Qi Zi (Goji Berry), Di Fu Zi (Kochia Scoparia), etc. to cure new or chronic corneal opacity and cataract.
Celosia seeds side effects and contraindications
Are celosia seeds edible? Well, it depends. Celosia seed is able to clear liver fire, which makes it an ideal herb for syndromes of hyperactivity of liver-yang, for example hypertension. And due to the fact that it possesses a powerful effect on getting rid of heat as well as the role of dilating the pupils, it shouldn’t be used in eye disorders accompanied with liver-kidney deficiency and glaucoma.
(1). Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine) 1962;8:19;
(2). Chong Qing Yi Yao (Chongching Medicine and Herbology) 1990;19(2):30.