1.1 What is a Tetradium ruticarpum?
Tetradium ruticarpum (previously called Euodia ruticarpa; Chinese Pinyin: Wu Zhu Ru, Simplified Chinese: 吴茱萸), is a species of deciduous, flowering, fruit-bearing tree in genus Tetradium in the rue family, Rutaceae. The term Tetradium ruticarpum can refer to the plant as well as the fruit of the plant. The flowers are white to light yellow, with 5 petals. The edible fruits (though a lot people may find the fruits inedible due to its strong bitter taste) are in clusters, small in size between 4-5 mm in diameter with reddish to black skin when ripe. The plant can grow up to 5 m tall. Native to China and also cultivated in Japan, habitats of Tetradium ruticarpum include mountainous regions (sun-bathed slopes preferred), open forest and shrublands (usually found from between 0 to 1,500 meters in elevation). Characteristics of Tetradium ruticarpum include adaptations to different growth conditions and great versatility.
Other simplified Chinese names for Tetradium ruticarpum include: 吴萸, 茶辣, 辣子, 臭辣子, 吴椒, 臭泡子, 臭辣子树, 气辣子, 曲药子, 生吴茱萸, 吴萸, 淡吴萸, 泡吴萸, 炙吴萸, 炒吴萸.
1.2 How does Tetradium ruticarpum fruit taste?
Ripe Tetradium ruticarpum fruits have a strong bitter and pungent taste and therefore most people would find it inedible.
1.3 When should Tetradium ruticarpum fruits be harvested?
Tetradium ruticarpum fruits start to ripen in late summer when the skin of the fruits turn yellow, it will continue to turn red and finally black (when fully ripe). However, the best time to harvest Tetradium ruticarpum fruits is when the fruit skin is in light yellow and green color, normally in late August depending on the weather conditions.
1.4 How is Tetradium ruticarpum used in traditional Chinese medicine?
The dried fruit of Tetradium ruticarpum is considered to have pungent, bitter and heat properties and to be associated with the liver, spleen, stomach and kidney meridians. It is used as cold-dispelling drug, analgesic, antiemetic, kidney tonic and anti-diarrheal in traditional Chinese medicine (CTM) and widely adopted in treating different diseases and health problems, such as high blood pressure, gastrointestinal dysfunction, eczema and neurodermatitis.
1.5 What are the special meanings of Tetradium ruticarpum in Chinese Culture?
The special meanings of Tetradium ruticarpum (茱萸) originated from the poet Wang Wei’s ‘Thinking Of My Brothers On Mountain-climbing Day’. It is a long existing ritual that people from Shandong Province would climb up the mountains on this particular day, 9th of September in lunar calendar, in order to avoid certain endemic disease and Tetradium ruticarpum was the plant used during the ritual. However, the poet Wang Wei was not at home and cannot join the ritual, therefore, he wrote the line ‘独在异乡为异客，每逢佳节倍思亲。遥知兄弟登高处，遍插茱萸少一人’ (Far away from hometown, I am alone like a guest; so much I miss you every holiday time. At the same time you are climbing up high, wearing theTetradium ruticarpum all around ,but me).
2. Uses, Health Benefits of Tetradium Ruticarpum & Medical Formulas
2.1 Improve Digestion
Studies show that Tetradium ruticarpum contains limonin which is a limonoid, and a bitter, white, crystalline substance and can be used in invigorating the stomach and improving digestion. Furthermore, the volatile oil extracted from Tetradium ruticarpum also can enhance the function of the stomach.
[CTM Formula] Powdered Tetradium ruticarpum fruits mixed with vinegar can be placed on the navel to treat indigestion.
2.2 Blood Pressure
[CTM Formula] Powdered Tetradium ruticarpum fruits mixed with vinegar can be used externally to treat high blood pressure.
[CTM Formula] A mixture of peach kernels, Tetradium ruticarpum fruit and table salt are fried and chewed to treat chronic constipation.
2.4 Skin Health
[CTM Formula] Ointment made with petrolatum and Tetradium ruticarpum fruit powder can be used externally to treat eczema and neurodermatitis.
2.5 Dysentery And Severe Diarrhea
[CTM Formula] Pills made with Tetradium ruticarpum fruit, rhizomes of coptis chinensis and white peony root are taken orally to treat dysentery and severe diarrhea with mucus or blood in the feces.
3. Contraindication, Side-effects & Cautions
Administration with caution for people experiencing deficiency of yin and hyperactivity of fire.
Overdose on Tetradium ruticarpum fruits may lead to visual impairment and illusion.
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.