Diospyros kaki, also known as Oriental persimmon, Japanese persimmon or Shi Zi in Pinyin, is a sweet and juicy fruit. Thanks to its high nutritional value and good taste, it earns a reputation as “the fruit of late autumn”. Just as its common name implies, persimmon tree is native to China and Japan and widely cultivated there. It is reported that it was introduced to French in and 19th century, followed by Mediterranean countries and the United States later. Although the persimmon fruit has numerous medicinal uses, especially on treating high blood pressure, bleeding hemorrhoids and constipation, in traditional Chinese medicine the diospyros kaki calyx (Shi Di) is the main medicinal part. Therefore, in this article persimmon calyx, instead of the fruit, is what we are going to talk about next.
What is a persimmon?
Persimmons fruit, commonly called Chinese persimmon, Asian Persimmon, Gam (Korean), “Sharon Fruit”, “Korean mango”, is actually a kind of berry. Its ripe season is about October. It is oblate in shape and different diospyros kaki varieties range from pale orange to deep orange in color and 2cm to 10cm in size, and 100 to 350g in weight. In china it has been cultivated for more than 1,000 years. The nutrition of ripe fruit includes sugar 15%, protein 1.36%, fat 0.57%, vitamins, crude fiber, carotene, calcium, phosphorus, iron and other elements. More importantly, it contains 1 to 2 times higher of vitamin C than other average fruits.
But when it comes to homeopathic remedy and TCM, persimmon calyx is more commonly used. It mainly refers to the dried calyx of Diospyros kaki Thunb. This is a plant in the family Ebenaceae. Hence, other names of it include Calyx Kaki, Shidi, Calyx Diospyros Kaki, Kaki Calyx, and more. In China, it is mainly produced in Sichuan, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Fujian. This herb is usually collected in autumn and winter when the ripe fruits are picked or consumed. And medicinally it should be washed, dried in the sun, and used raw.
Persimmons tree is a deciduous tree, up to 14 meters in height. Scaly bark is cracked and gray and black; dark brown branches are slightly hairy and with brown lenticels and twigs are pubescent. Leaves are alternate; petioles are pubescent; blade is elliptic to obovate, leathery, 6 to 18cm long, and with acuminate apex, broadly cuneate base, entire margin, dark green upper surface, and pale green lower surface. Flowers are polygamous; male flowers gathers into cymes while female flowers are solitary and axillary; yellowish-white flowers are with 4-lobed calyx with short-tubular lower part; bell-shaped corolla is 4-lobed; stamens are 16 in male flowers or 8 to 16 in bisexual flowers. And 8 staminodes are in female flowers; ovary is superior and with 8 rooms and style that is separated from the base. Berries are oval spherical, 3.5 to 8cm in diameter, orange or bright yellow, and with persistent sepals at the base. Flowering time is in May and fruit time is from September to October. Most of them are cultivated and the popular astringent cultivar is Hachiya persimmon and the preferred non-astringent varieties are Fuyu persimmon and the like.
The calyx contains hydroxytriterpenic acid 0.37%, which mainly include oleanolic acid, betulinic acid, ursolic acid, 19α-hydroxyursolic acid, and more. Other organic acids include stearic acid, palmitic acid, succinic acid, syringic acid, vanillic acid, and gallic acid. Besides, it still contains friedelin, β-sitosterol, β-Sitosterol-β-D-glucoside, trifolin, hyperin, kaempferol, quercetin, glucose, fructose, fatty oil, and tannins.
Diospyros kaki benefits
The health benefits of persimmon are numerous. Actually this plant provides many medicinal parts, including diospyros kaki bark, root or root bark, leaf, seeds, flowers, fruits, Kaki-shibu (Persimmon Tannin Juice), powder on the surface of a dried persimmon, peel, and persimmon cakes.
As for the calyx, clinically it is a specific medicine for the treatment of belching, coughing, hiccough, and vomiting, which is believed to be caused by the lung Qi ascending counterflow from the perspective of TCM. Because this is an herb that is of neutral nature, it can be used regardless of the pattern of diseases are based on nature of cold, heat, deficiency, or excess. For those who have vomiting feeling caused by its bitter and astringent taste, using its decoction as the mouthwash is a good idea. What’s more, the ground kaki calyx powder was also used as oral contraceptive pill in ancient China. It is said that taking it once could provide continuous pregnancy prevention for 1 year.
Modern pharmacological actions of persimmon calyx
1) Anti-arrhythmic effects. 0.5% of its exact can significantly resist chloroform-induced ventricular fibrillation by intraperitoneal injection (50mg/kg) in mice, fight against aconitine or barium chloride-induced arrhythmia in rats, and battle ouabain-induced ventricular arrhythmias in guinea pigs by intraperitoneal injection (ST 12.5mg/kg.day) for 5 consecutive days;
2) Sedation. ST100mg/kg intraperitoneal injection in mice can significantly decrease its spontaneous activity, enhance the hypnotic effect of subthreshold dose of sodium pentobarbital, extend sleep time, and significantly antagonize the morphine-induced tail erection in mice;
3) Antifertility effect. At the screening of anti-fertility in rabbits, it is initially confirmed that it has some anti-fertility effect. And the calyx handle has a better result than the rest part and the anti-fertility rate of handle was 79.6%.
Sample diospyros kaki recipes on herbal remedies
The Chinese Materia Medica believes that it is bitter and astringent in flavor and neutral in nature. It covers stomach meridian. Main function is to lend down abnormally ascending qi. Primary diospyros kaki use and indications include hiccups and nausea. Recommended dosage is from 5 to 10 grams in decoction or powder.
1) Shi Di Tang from Ji Sheng Fang (Life-saving prescriptions). It is coupled with Ding Xiang (Cloves) and Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger Root) to treat hiccups caused by stomach cold.
2) Ding Xiang Shi Di Tang from Zheng Yin Mai Zhi (Pathoconditions: Causes, Pulses, and Treatments). It is combined with Cloves and Ren Shen (Ginseng) to cure deficiency-cold type hiccups.
3) Shi Qian San from Jie Gu Jia Zhen (Jiegu’s Family Valuables). It is formulated with Cloves and Ginseng to heal hiccup.
4) Shi Di San from Qi Xiao Liang Fang (Magic Effective Prescriptions). It is charred to ground to cure stranguria complicated by hematuria.
Clinical research of kaki calyx
Kaki-based recipes can be used to treat hiccups caused by a variety of causes.
a) 17 cases of intractable hiccups have been treated by the decoction of large doses (50 to 100 grams). All were cured. The shortest treatment time was 2 days and the longest treatment time was one week;
b) 38 cases of heat-type hiccups have been treated by the capsule of Lu Gen Shi Di San, which consists of Lu Gen (Phragmites Communis) 30g, Kaki 15g, and Zhu Ru (Bamboo Shavings). 36 cases were cured and the total efficiency was 94%;
c) 35 cases of newborn omphalitis have been treated by applying its powder on the infected part. All of them were cured and the average healing time was 5.5 days.
Diospyros kaki side effects and contraindications
Currently the drug interactions and adverse effects on diospyros kaki calyx have rarely been reported. TCM wise, it won’t cause any disadvantages associated with the herbs of cold-heat nature since it is of neutral nature.
a) Zhong Yi Yao Xue Bao (Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Materia Medica), 1999;5:27;
b) Shi Yi Zhen Liao Ji Shu (Appropriate Diagnosis and Treatment Technology), 2000;3:18;
c) Shan Xi Zhong Yi (Shanxi Traditional Chinese Medicine), 1997;5:50.