Peach seeds, also known as Tao Ren in Pinyin, are clearly the kernel of peach pits. So, what do peach seeds look like? As a matter of fact, they not only look like almonds, but also taste like almonds. As a result, many people often get them mixed up and think they are the same thing. Of course they are not. And just like almond, it is also edible and has long been loved and eaten since ancient times, thanks to its special taste and flavor. In view of its great contribution on health benefits and high nutritional value, it is also listed as one of top 10 precious healthy foods by holistic diet regimen experts. As one of frequently-used Chinese herbs, it is suitable for general population, especially patients who suffer from high blood sugar or diabetes. As you can see now, what we are going to talk about next is its medicinal uses, instead of how to germinate and plant a peach seed, or something like it.
What is peach seed?
When used as a Chinese medicine, it mainly refers to the ripe seeds of Prunus persica (L.) Batsch or Prunus davidiana (Carr.) Franch. Both of them are plants belonging to the family Rosaceae. Other common names of this herb include seeds of peach, Semen Persicae, Peach Kernel, Semen Pruni Persicae, peach tree seeds, peach pits, peach fruit seeds, and the like. Prunus persica seeds are produced all over China and most of them are cultivated; Prunus davidiana seeds mainly grow wild in provinces of Liaoning, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Sichuan, and Yunnan. They are usually picked from June to July when the fruits are ripe. The following steps are to remove the flesh and pit shell, take the seeds, peel them, and dry in the sun. Medicinally it is normally used raw or fried.
Prunus persica seed is ovate, flat, long, 1.2 to 1.8cm long, 0.8 to 1.2cm wide, and 0.2 to 0.4cm thick. Surface is from yellowish brown to reddish brown and densely covered with granular protrusions. One end is pointed; the central part is enlarged; the other end is blunt, slightly oblique and flat, and with thin edge. The pointed end has shortly linear hilum while the blunt end has slightly darker chalazas that are less obvious and many longitudinal vascular bundles radiating from chalazas. Seed coat is thin, off-white, oily, and with 2 cotyledons. It is nearly odorless but slightly bitter. Prunus davidiana seed is nearly oval, smaller but thicker, about 0.9cm, about 0.7cm wide and about 0.5cm thick.
The seed of a peach contains amygdalin, 24-methylene cycloartanol, citrostadienol, 7-dehydroavenasterol, prunasin, β-sitosterol, campesterol, β-sitosterol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, campesterol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, β-sitosterol3-O-β-D-(6-O-palmityl) glucopyranoside, methyl-β-D-glucopyranoside, methyl-a-D-fructofuranoside, tryptophane, glucose, sucrose, chlorogenic acid, 3-ρ-coumaroylquinic acid, 3-feruloylquinic acid, triolein, and so on. And it also gets 2 isolated protein components, PR-A and PR-B, which have a strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic pharmacological activity. Besides, peach seed oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, mainly including oleic acid and linoleic acid.
Peach seeds benefits
Traditional Chinese medicine thinks it is of neutral nature. That’s to say, as a food the ingestion of it won’t let you risk suffering from internal heat. Instead, consuming peach seeds is good for you no matter you are of cold or heat habitus since it plays a certain restrain dilution role.
The most valued healing properties of peach seed in TCM are its effect of promoting blood circulation. Given the fact of backward medical technology in ancient times, dietary therapy or herbs was one of the few available ways that could count on once people suffered from stagnant movement of Qi and blood. And peach seed nut is that one commonly used medically to invigorate the circulation of blood. It is said that it was once so expensive and rare that few people then could afford it. Likewise, it can be applied to treat scarce menstrual flow or even absence of menstruation in women.
Besides, it is also a good aperient since it contains certain of fatty oil, which can help obstructed bowel or indigestion. Eating peach seeds on daily basis can lubricate the intestine, keep the intestine smooth, and improve bowel function. It is worth noting that obstructed bowel is very likely to cause the proliferation of bacteria, and thus lead to intestinal inflammation. That’s to say, appropriate consumption of it is beneficial to intestinal discharge of waste, prevention of intestinal inflammation, and even the treatment of intestinal inflammation.
Modern pharmacological actions of peach kernel
1) Its extracting solution can significantly increase cerebral blood flow, enhance the blood flow in canine femoral arteries, reduce vascular resistance, and improve the hemodynamics;
2) Peach seed extract can improve the animal’s liver surface microcirculation and promote bile secretion;
3) It can obviously prolong the bleeding and clotting time in mice;
4) Its decoction can promote fibrosis and in vitro inhibit thrombosis;
5) It contains 5% fat oil, which can lubricate the intestine and then help defecation;
6) It can promote the uterine contractions and bleeding in woman who has been delivered of a child for the first time;
7) Its decoction and extract have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-allergic effects;
8) Amygdalin contained has antitussive, anti-asthma, and anti-liver fibrosis effects.
Sample peach seed recipes on herbal remedies
The Chinese Pharmacopoeia believes that it is bitter and sweet in flavor and neutral in nature. It goes to meridians of heart, liver, and large intestine. Basic functions include activating blood to remove blood stasis and relaxing bowel. Essential peach seed uses and indications are amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, mass in the abdomen, injuries, and constipation caused by intestinal dryness. Recommended dosage is from 4.5 to 9 grams in decoction. Other relevant medicinal products also include peach seed supplement, powder, pills, and the like. What’s more, it is used in making carving, basket, beads, and other artwork. Want more tips on how to maximize the health benefits of this herb? Here are the most famous formulas for your reference.
1) Tao Hong Si Wu Tang from Yi Zong Jin Jian (Golden Mirror of Orthodox Medicine). It is formulated with Hong Hua (Safflower), Dang Gui (Dong Quai), Chuan Xiong (lovage), Chi Shao (Red Peonies), etc. to treat amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea caused by blood stasis.
2) Sheng Hua Tang from Fu Qing Zhu Nu Ke (Fu Qing-zhu’s Gynecology). It is combined with Pao Jiang (Prepared Dried Ginger), lovage, etc. to cure postpartum abdominal pain due to stagnation.
3) Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan from Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Coffer). It works with Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi), Mu Dan Pi (Tree Peony), Red Peonies, etc. to heal abdominal mass in women due to the accumulated stasis.
4) Tao He Cheng Qi Tang from Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage). It is equipped with Da Huang (rhubarb), Mang Xiao (Glauber’s Salt), cassia twig, etc. to treat severe abdominal mass due to stagnation.
5) Fu Yuan Huo Xue Tang from Yi Xue Fa Ming (Illuminating the Science of Medicine). It is matched with Dong Quai, Safflower, rhubarb, etc. to cure wound, bruises, and pains.
6) Wei Jing Tang from Qian Jin Fang (Thousand golden essential prescriptions). It is used together with Wei Jing (Phragmites Communis Stem), Dong Gua Ren (Winter Melon Seeds), etc. to treat pulmonary abscess.
7) Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang from Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Coffer. It is joined with rhubarb, Tree Peony Bark, etc. to cure acute appendicitis.
8) Run Chang Wan from Pi Wei Lun (Treatise on the Spleen and Stomach). It is compatible with Dong Quai, Huo Ma Ren (Hemp Seeds), Gua Lou Ren (Semen Trichosanthis), etc. to heal constipation caused by dry intestine.
9) Shuang Ren Wan from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence). It is coupled with Xing Ren (Apricot Seed) to treat cough and asthma.
Medical research on peach pits
Clinically peach seed based remedies are widely used in various conditions, such as schistosomiasis cirrhosis, thrombosis, appendicitis, vasculitis, acute renal failure, acute and chronic nephritis, mental illness, pneumonia, coronary heart disease, and so on.
a) 20 cases of schistosomiasis cirrhosis have been treated with amygdalin, the active ingredients extracted from peach seeds, by 500mg intravenous injection, once every other day. And the significantly improved or improved indicators included fatigue, physical power, weight, hemoglobin, red blood cells, platelets, serum albumin and others; liver reduced more than 3cm in 11 cases (55%); the enlargement of the left lobe of the liver was significantly reduced.
b) 46 cases of cerebral thrombosis caused by Qi deficiency and blood stasis have been treated with Tong Mai Chong Ji, consisting of peach kernel, safflower, angelica root, Szechwan Lovage, etc. And 29 cases were basically cured, 14 cases markedly improved, and 3 cases improved. In addition, 23 cases of patients were found with hypertension and blood pressure was lowered in more than half of them after the treatment.
c) 83 cases of appendicitis have been treated with Er Ren Yi Pi Tang, including peach Kernel, Lindera, Tree Peony, etc. And 76 cases were cured, 6 cases effective, and 1 case invalid. The total efficiency was 98%.
Peach seeds side effects and contraindications
Are peach seeds safe to eat? Actually it won’t kill you easily but a few things still require your special attention before the use. Amygdalin in peach seeds can be broken down into hydrocyanic acid in the body, which first excites and later paralyzes the central nervous system. After all, respiratory paralysis is the main reason responsible for death. In addition, hydrocyanic acid has local anesthetic effect on the skin and has a stimulating effect on the mucous membranes.
Main clinical manifestation of peach seed poisoning are the central nervous system damage, including dizziness, headache, vomiting, palpitations, irritability, followed by unconsciousness, convulsions, and life-threatening respiratory paralysis. In addition, it was also reported to cause skin irritation and skin allergies like rashes. According studies, the poisoning symptoms are mainly caused by improper use or overdose. Hence, controlling the dosage is a must and meanwhile it shouldn’t be taken by children. Besides, use it with care during pregnancy and in cases of blood deficiency, blood dryness, and body fluid deficiency.
a) Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Journal of Chinese Medicine), 1986; (6):24;
b) Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi (Chinese journal of modern developments in traditional medicine), 1982; (4):212;
c) Zhe Jiang Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Zhejiang Journal of Chinese Medicine), 1989; 24(10):465.