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Trichosanthes (gua lou)
What is trichosanthes? What is it
Trichosanthes is a member of the gourd family. It is an annual
vine, with angular, fuzzy stems and branched tendrils. It
is covered with broadly angled or lobed leaves and white flowers.
The plants fruit resembles a cucumber, except for its
length (which may reach from one to five feet) and may appear
club-shaped or curved. Native to India, the trichosanthes
is becoming popular in the United States not only for its
medicinal properties, but its interesting appearance.
Different parts of trichosanthes are used for different ailments.
In traditional Chinese medicine concepts, trichosanthes seeds
(gua lou ren) are used to treat dry stools and mild
forms of constipation, and to help wounds heal. Trichosanthes
root (tian hua fen) treats lung heat conditions that
have phlegm and dryness, and reduces toxins manifested by
sores and inflammation, especially breast abscesses. Both
the seeds and root can be used externally or internally as
needed. Tricosanthes peel treats the stomach and aids in the
circulation of qi. Many Chinese herbalists also use
tricosanthes for high blood pressure and high blood lipid
How much trichosanthes should I
Dosage varies on the type of condition being treated, but
a usual dosage ranges from 6-18 grams for trichosanthes fruit
and 9-15 grams of trichosanthes seeds or root. Make sure to
speak with a licensed TCM professional before you begin taking
trichosanthes or any other herbal remedy.
What forms of trichosanthes are
Trichosanthes can be found at many Asian markets and specialty
stores. It is available in fresh, dried and powdered forms.
What can happen if I don't get enough
trichosanthes? What can happen if I take too much? Are there
any side-effects I should be aware of?
Trichosanthes, in any form, should not be taken by pregnant
women, as there have been case reports that it may induce
spontaneous abortions. Trichosanthes seeds and root should
not be taken by patients who have diarrhea. Trichosanthes
fruit and peel should not be used by patients who have a spleen
deficiency. For more information, be sure to consult with
a licensed health care professional or traditional Chinese
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
- Shen R. Distinguishing the uses of related
medicinals. RCHM News Spring 2001, 13-15.
- Sionneau P. Dui Yao: The Art of Combining
Medicinals. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press, 1997.
- Yang SZ (translator). The Divine Farmer's
Materia Medica, Boulder, CP: Blue Poppy Press, 1998.
- Yen K. Illustrated Chinese Materia
Medica. Taipei: SMC Publishing Inc., 1992.
- Zhu YP. Chinese Materia Medica: Chemistry,
Pharmacology, and Applications. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic