Introduction of He Zi:Terminalia Fruit or Fructus Chebulae.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Terminalia Fruit, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its botanical source two plant species, ①.Terminalia chebula Retz., ②.Terminalia chebula Retz. var. tomentella (Kurz.) C.B.Clarke., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these two plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these two plant species, the features of the herb Terminalia Fruit, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Fructus Chebulae(Terminalia Fruit).

Fructus Chebulae:herb photo Pin Yin Name: Hē Zǐ.
 English Name: Terminalia Fruit.
 Latin Name: Fructus Chebulae.
 Property and flavor: warm nature, tastes bitter, sour, puckery.

 Brief introduction: The Herb Fructus Chebulae is the dried ripe fruit of Terminalia chebula Retz. Or Terminalia chebula var.tomentella Kurt., used as an anti-diarrheic and antitussive agent for the treatment of chronic diarrhea or dysentery, persistent cough, and hoarse voice. The herb is commonly known as Fructus Chebulae, Terminalia Fruit, Hē Zǐ.

 Botanical source: Common herbal classics defined the herb Fructus Chebulae (He Zi) as the dry ripen fruit of the Combretaceae family plant species (1). Terminalia chebula Retz., or (2).Terminalia chebula Retz. var. tomentella (Kurz.) C.B.Clarke. They are plants of the Terminalia Linn. Genus, the Combretaceae family (white mangrove family) of the Myrtiflorae order. These 2 commonly used species are introduced:

(1).Terminalia chebula Retz.

 Terminalia chebula Retz.:fruiting plant Botanical description: The plant, Terminalia chebula Retz is a plant of the Combretaceae family (white mangrove family) and Terminalia genus, it is commonly known as Terminalia chebula, or Máo Hē Zǐ. Tree, it grows up to 30 meters high. Branches are glabrate, lenticels are thin and long, white or pale yellow, and young shoots (twigs) are yellow-brown, tomentose. Leaves are alternate or subopposite; petioles are thickset (stout), 1.8~2.3 cm long, 2~4 glands at the part 1~5 mm distance to the tip; leaf blades are oval (egg-shaped) or elliptic, 7~14 cm long, 4.5~8.5 cm wide, front end is mucronate, base is blunt or cuneate, deflective, entire or slightly undulate, both surfaces are glabrous, densely covered with fine trailing points.

 Spica (spikes) are axillary or apical, sometimes compose panicles; flowers are hermaphroditic; hypanthium (floral tube) is cyathiform (cupulate), pale green with yellowish, about 3.5 mm long, 5-dentate lobed, about 1 mm long, triangular, outside is glabrous, the inner surface is covered with yellowish-brown pilose; flower petals are absent; 10 stamens, grow higher than calyx, anthers are small, elliptic; ovary is inferior, 1 loculus, cylindrical, about 1 mm long, piliferous, turns dark brown when it is dried, style is long and thick, tapered (conical).

 Terminalia chebula Retz.:fruiting plant Drupes (drupe fruits), oval (egg-shaped) or elliptic, 2.4~4.5 cm long, 1.9~2.3 cm in diameter, cyan, coarse and rough, glabrous, turns dark brown at maturity, usually have 5 blunt edges. Its flowering period is in May, the fruiting period is from July to September.

 Ecological environment: Terminalia chebula grows in open forests at altitudes of 800~1,800 meters above sea level. The plant grows on the roadside or near the village. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in the west and southwest of Yunnan, the Zhujiang river area, and other areas of China.

 Growth characteristics: The plant prefers the warm, high temperature and moist climate. It is tolerant to drought and frost, it prefers sufficient sunshine. It is mostly found in areas at altitudes between 950~1,850 meters above sea level. The annual rainfall of its main producing region is about 1,000~1,500 mm. Its soil requirements are not very strict, but it is appropriate to choose loose and fertile loam with good drainage for cultivation.

 Terminalia Fruit:herb photo Characters of herbs: The fruits are oblong or oval (egg-shaped), 2~4 cm long, and 2~2.5 cm in diameter. The surface is yellowish-brown or dark-brown, slightly glossy, has 5~6 longitudinal ridge lines and irregular wrinkles, and the base has a round carpopodium mark (fruit stalk mark). The texture of the herb is firm and farctate. The pulp is 0.2~0.4 cm thick, yellowish-brown or tawny. The stones (nuts) are 1.5~2.5 cm long, and 1~1.5 cm in diameter, faint yellow (pale yellow), coarse and rough, firm and hard. The seeds are long and narrow fusiform (spindle-shaped), about 1 cm long, and 0.2~0.4 cm in diameter; The spermoderm (seed coat) is yellowish-brown, 2 cotyledons, white, overlapped, helicoid. The herb has a slight odor, it tastes sour puckery, and then sweet. The herb of a better grade has thick pulp, is firm, and glossy, and the surface is yellowish-brown.

(2).Terminalia chebula Retz. var. tomentella (Kurz.) C.B.Clarke.

 Terminalia chebula Retz.var.tomentella Kurz.C.B.Clarke.:fruiting plant Botanical description: The plant, Terminalia chebula Retz. var. tomentella (Kurz.) C.B.Clarke is a plant of the Combretaceae family (white mangrove family) and Terminalia genus, it is commonly known as Terminalia chebula Retz. var. tomentella (Kurz.), Róng Máo Hē Zǐ (fluff Terminalia chebula), or Wēi Máo Hē Zǐ (puberulent Terminalia chebula). It is normally identified as one varietas of the Terminalia chebula Retz., and has differences from it.

 The differences between this varietas and the Terminalia chebula Retz. are that the young shoots and the young leaves are all flat, and covered with copper-colored appressed pilose; the bracts are longer than the flower; the calyx is glabrous outside; the fruit is oval and less than 2.5 cm long. Its flowering period is from June to August, and the fruiting period is from August to October.

 A tree, grows up to 10–15 meters high, rarely up to 23 meters high, and up to 60 cm in diameter, young shoots are densely covered with silver short appressed hairs, do not fall off when grow old, and old branches have conspicuous lenticels; young buds are covered with copper-colored hairs, bracts are yellowish-green; leaves are opposite, or subopposite, leaf blades are oval (egg-shaped) or oblong-lanceolate, 10-17 cm long, 4.5-6.5 cm wide, front end is acuminate or blunt, both surfaces are densely covered with silver appressed hairs, not fall off till the leaves are old, entire, lateral veins are in 6–10 pairs; petioles are 2.2-3.1 cm long, covered with silver appressed hairs, there are 2 glands grow on the upper part 4 mm from leaf base;

 Spikes (spica) are apical, about 2 cm long, many-branched; bracteoles (bractlets) are lanceolate-cochleariform (lanceolate-spatulate), about 2 mm long, olivine (yellowish-green), covered with brown hairs, flowers are small, subsessile, calyx is gyalectiform (urceolate), about 1.2 mm long, glabrous outside, filaments are short;

 Fruits are oval (egg-shaped), turn black when it is dried, have wrinkles, 2.6-2.9 cm long, 1.2-1.4 cm wide, frond end is acuminate;

 Ecological environment: The plant grows on sunny slopes, forest edges, or bamboo forests, in areas at altitudes of 800~1,100 meters above sea level. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in the western part of Yunnan and other areas of China.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.antibacterial effect, effective for 4~5 kinds of Bacillus dysenteriae, water decoction is effective on various kinds of Bacillus dysenteriae, the stronger effect on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus diphtheriae, also has an effect on Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, pneumococcus, hemolytic streptococcus, Bacillus proteus, Bacterium aertryke; ②.inhibitory effect of the tumor; ③.protecting white blood cells; ④.effect of antispasmodic on smooth muscle, tannin and other purgatory components show first purgatory effect and then astringent action, similar to rhubarb. ⑤.extract of Fructus Chebulae has an inactivation effect on influenza. ⑥.good anti-diarrhea effect.

 Medicinal efficacy: Astringents and relieving diarrhea, astringing lung for relieving cough, downbear fire and relieve sore throat, descending Qi. It is indicated for chronic diarrhea, protracted dysentery, hemafecia (hematochezia, passing blood in stool), archoptosis (anal prolapse), metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, morbid leukorrhea,  spermatorrhea (seminal emission), frequent urination, dyspnea with cough of lung deficiency, dyspnea with cough and phlegm, unstoppable chronic cough, chronic cough and aphonia (chronic cough and loss of voice), pharyngalgia and hoarseness, etc.   

 Administration of Fructus Chebulae (Hē Zǐ): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Fructus Chebulae (Hē Zǐ)
TCM Books: ①.Internally: 3~10 grams; ②.Internally:water decoction, 1~3 qian (about 3~9 grams), or prepare to pill, powder. Externally:fumigation wash with water decoction; ③.Internally:water decoction, 3~6 grams;or prepared to pill, powder.




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  • 1.Introduction of He Zi:Terminalia Fruit or Fructus Chebulae.

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