By Lisa M. Miller, L.Ac.
Many patients who prepare raw Chinese herbal decoctions can be somewhat turned off by the taste and
smell of the cooked herbs. Usually this happens during the first few preparations because they’re
not used to Chinese herbs and haven’t yet experienced their healing powers. However, there are a
few herbs in the Chinese pharmacopeia that are actually sweet and delicious! My personal favorite
is Long Yan Rou.
Long Yan Rou is the fruit from the beautiful longan tree, a native tree of Southeast Asia and China,
which can grow up to 40-50 feet high. The longan tree is a close relative of the lychee tree. The fruit
from the longan resembles and grows in clusters similar to grapes. Although longan fruit are eaten
fresh off the tree, they are mostly canned in syrup or dried. In the Chinese pharmacopeia, the longan
fruit come dried and are cooked with other herbs in a formula. They can also be eaten as dried fruit
or cooked in porridge. Their taste is sweet with a hint of smokiness. When cooked and reconstituted,
they have a similar texture to lychee fruit.
It is almost easy to forget that Long Yan Rou is a medicinal herb because of its pleasant taste. However,
Long Yan Rou has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its healing abilities. In the Chinese
pharmacopeia, it is categorized as a blood tonic herb, with warm and sweet properties. It has an affinity
to the Heart and Spleen meridians. Long Yan Rou tonifies the Heart and Spleen, nourishes the Blood, and
calms the Shen. It is commonly combined with herbs such as Dang Gui, Yuan Zhi, Suan Zao Ren, and Ren Shen
in formulas for Heart and Spleen deficiencies. Many times these disharmonies present with insomnia,
Anxiety, dizziness, poor memory, and forgetfulness. A very recent study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology cites that an aqueous extract of Long Yan Rou enhances learning and memory in laboratory
mice. In clinical practice, Long Yan Rou is often prescribed in formulas that
treat chronic weakness and forgetfulness due to over thinking and overworking.
So, when you’re in the nearby vicinity of an Asian market, pick up some Long Yan Rou and experience
its sweet taste and great health benefits.
Park SJ, et al., “The memory-enhancing effects of Euphoria longan fruit extract in mice,” J Ethnopharmacol.
Mar 2;128(1):160-5. (2010).