1.1 What is a pistachio?
The pistachio (botanical name: Pistacia vera, also known as pistachio nuts, happy fruits, Chinese Pinyin: Kai Xin Guo, Simplified Chinese: 开心果), is a species of small, flowering, fruit-bearing, deciduous or evergreen tree in genus Pistacia in the cashew or sumac family, Anacardiaceae. The flowers are apetalous and unisexual and borne in panicles, the edible elongated fruit is a drupe, small in size between 1-2 cm long with light green to cream exterior hard shell. The plant can grow up to 10 m tall. Native to Central Asia and the Middle East and widely cultivated for its edible seeds, habitats of pistachio include mountainous regions, semidesert and hill lands (usually found from between 600 to 1,200 meters in elevation). Characteristics of pistachio include tolerance for cold and drought, adaptation to sandy land and barren land.
Other simplified Chinese names for pistachio include: 阿月浑子, 胡榛子, 无名子, 胡棒子, 必思答, 皮斯塔.
1.2 How do pistachios taste?
Good pistachios have a nutty, firmed, dense texture with a flavor that is sweet, rich and subtle.
1.3 How do I tell if my pistachios are ripe?
Pistachios start to ripen when the epicarp lighten into rosy, light yellow and separate from the hard inner shell. Most ripe pistachios are found in late August or September, depending on the weather.
1.4 Are pistachios fruits or nuts?
Pistachios are culinary nuts but not botanical nuts which should be a single seeded fruit usually consisting of an inedible hard shell and an edible seed and the fruit does not open to release the seed to the world. Pistachios are actually a drupe fruit, a type of fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a shell (more commonly known as a pit) with a seed inside.
1.5 How is pistachio used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The fruit of pistachios is considered to have pungent, warm, astringent and nontoxic properties and to be associated with the XXX meridians. It is used as spleen and kidney in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as impotence.
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Pistachios & Medical Formulas
2.1 Boost Energy Metabolism
Pistachios are rich in vitamin B-1 Thiamine, which is an essential water-soluble nutrient that helps our body transform food into energy. Thiamine is an essential nutrient that all tissues of our body need to function properly and produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which transport chemical energy within cells for metabolism. Studies found out that thiamine deficiency can be related to alcoholism, poor nutrition, cancer, vomiting associated with pregnancy, bariatric surgery, and hemodialysis (mayoclinic.org 2013). Thus, dietary intake of food containing thiamine is critical and helps boost energy metabolism.
2.2 Promote Blood Circulation
Another B vitamin contained in pistachios is riboflavin which is also known as vitamin B2. riboflavin is critical for body growth and red blood cell production and assists in transforming carbohydrates into energy. Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency include extreme fatigue, mouth or lip sores, or cracks, nerve damage, a sluggish metabolism, skin disorders or skin inflammation (around the face and nose in particular). Studies found out that Vitamin B2 is important for the formation of fresh red blood cells and antibodies in our body, which promotes circulation and increases oxygenation to different organ systems of our body (organicfacts.net 2017).
2.3 Prevent Osteoporosis
Pistachios are wonderful source of some important minerals including Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc. Among these minerals, manganese is a trace mineral but it is important to life. Our body contains only approximately 15 to 20 milligrams of manganese, but most of the chemical is found in bones. Studies revealed the important role manganese plays as a co-factor in the formation of bone cartilage and bone collagen and in bone mineralization. Osteoporotic changes in bone can be brought about by manganese deficiency, which appears to increase bone breakdown while decreasing new bone mineralization. Since osteoporosis is considered a serious public health concern (approximately 30% of all postmenopausal women have osteoporosis in the United States and in Europe) (betterbones.com 2017), eating pistachios may help to prevent and treat osteoporosis and foster better bone health.
2.4 Improve Kidney Function, Promote Vitality And Sexual Energy
[CTM Formula] A decoction of pistachios and other herbs is taken orally to nourish the kidney and relieve back pains due to the kidney deficiency.
The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.
The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.
Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by ChinaAbout.net. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.
List of reference
betterbones.com 2017 Key minerals for bone health — manganese [online] link: https://www.betterbones.com/bone-nutrition/manganese/
mayoclinic.org 2013 Thiamine (Vitamin B1) [online] link: http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/thiamine/evidence/hrb-20060129
organicfacts.net 2017 13 Impressive Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Benefits [online] link: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vitamins/health-benefits-of-vitamin-b2-or-riboflavin.html