Yu Li Ren (Semen Pruni or Bush Cherry Pit)

Yu Li Ren commonly known as Semen Pruni or Bush Cherry Pit is the mature seed of Prunus humilis, Prunus japonica, or Prunus pedunculata, which is a deciduous shrub belonging to the family Rosaceae. It is a commonly used laxative, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

Prunus humilis is commonly called Bush Cherry and is an economic crop. It likes a humid environment and often grows on sunny hillsides, sandy lands, and shrubs at an altitude of 100-1,800 meters. It is distributed in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Shandong, and Henan.

The stems and leaves of this plant are rich in nutrients and can be used as feed for cattle and sheep. Historically, its fruits were used as tributes for the royal family only. This fruit is rich in active calcium and is the best calcium supplement fruit for the elderly and children.

Prunus japonica is also called Cerasus japonica, Japanese bush cherry, Oriental bush cherry, or Oriental bush cherry and is a widely cultivated ornamental plant. This plant likes light and a warm environment. It often grows on hillsides, under forests and shrubs at 100-200 meters above sea level. The leaves of this plant procure a green dye, while the fruit procures a greenish to grayish dye.

Prunus pedunculata is called long-stemmed almond in China. This plant is cold-resistant and drought-tolerant and is often planted in desert areas as an ornamental tree. It is distributed in China’s Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, Mongolia, and Siberia.

In the summer and autumn of each year, people pick the mature fruits of Prunus humilis, Prunus japonica, or Prunus pedunculata, remove their shells and pulps, take out seeds, dry them, and make them into Chinese herbs.

Yu Li Ren contains afzelin, kaempferitrin, oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, stearic acid, leucine, phenylalanine, valine, isoleucine, amygdalin, prunuside A, prunuside B, saponins, phytosterols, cellulose, ursolic acid, vanillic acid, protocatechuic acid, polysaccharides and a variety of trace elements.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal property of Yu Li Ren is relatively mild, with a pungent, bitter, and sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the spleen, large intestine, and small intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Yu Li Ren is often used to moisten intestines and relieve constipation, induce diuresis and alleviate edema, and treat senile constipation, habitual constipation, difficult urination, indigestion, bronchial asthma, and beriberi. It is an important component of Wu Ren Wan.

Health benefits of Yu Li Ren

  • Anti-oxidation, anti-virus, and anti-convulsion.
  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting edema of foot joint in rats and having an analgesic effect.
  • Supplementing calcium, dilating blood vessels, and lowering blood pressure.
  • Promoting thickening of the bronchial mucosa and eliminating phlegm.
  • Promoting intestinal peristalsis, alleviating constipation and dry stool caused by intestinal dryness or qi stagnation in the large intestine.
  • Alleviating constipation caused by postpartum gastrointestinal dryness-heat.
  • Inducing diuresis, relieving edema and dysuria.
  • A small dose of amygdalin can produce hydrocyanic acid in the body, which can calm the respiratory center, relieve cough and asthma.

Yu Li Ren is used with other Chinese herbs

  • It with Huo Ma Ren (Hemp Seeds), Bai Zi Ren (Semen Platycladi), and Xing Ren (Semen Armeniacae) can alleviate constipation and dry stool caused by intestinal dryness or qi stagnation in the large intestine.
  • It with Mang Xiao (Natrii Sulfas), Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), and Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae) can alleviate constipation caused by dryness-heat in the intestines and stomach.
  • It with Sang Bai Pi (Cortex Mori), Chi Xiao Dou (Adzuki Bean), and Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel) can treat edema.
  • It with Xing Ren (Semen Armeniacae), Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria Cirrhosa), and Qian Hu (Peucedanum) can relieve coughs.
  • It with Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei), Huo Ma Ren (Hemp Seeds), Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Hou Po (Magnolia Bark), Ku Xing Ren (Bitter Apricot Seed), Zhi Shi (Fructus Aurantii Immaturus), and Bai Shao (White Peony Root) can alleviate indigestion.
  • It with Yi Yi Ren (Semen Coicis), Tu Fu Ling (Rhizoma Smilacis Glabrae), and Chuan Niu Xi (Radix Cyathulae) can treat foot edema, difficult defecation and urination.

Side effects of Yu Li Ren

Overdose of it may cause a bitter taste in the mouth, salivation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or dizziness.

In severe cases, it may cause unconsciousness, trismus, dilated pupils, spasms, or difficulty breathing.

Precautions of Yu Li Ren

  • The dosage of Yu Li Ren should be controlled at 6-12g.
  • It can be made into decoction, pills, or powders.
  • When making its decoction, it is recommended to crush it and decoct it.
  • It should not be used to treat coughs caused by damp-phlegm.
  • People with loose stools should not take it.
  • People with weakness of the spleen and stomach should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.