Apricot/Apricot Kernel (Xing, Xing Ren)
Botanical Name: Prunus armenia
Originally from China, apricots are now found worldwide. Considered one of the healthiest fruits in the world, it is loaded with nutritional, health and medicinal value. “An apricot a day, can also help keep the doctor away.” Apricots are packed with Vitamins A and C, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that support eye, skin, heart and digestive health. Apricots are low in calories and help regulate blood sugar levels. The Chinese have used the kernels for thousands of years to treat lung disorders and constipation.
Below is an overview of Apricot/Apricot Kernel (Xing, Xing Ren), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Apricot/Apricot Kernel (Xing, Xing Ren).
Western Name: Apricot/Apricot Kernel
Also Known As: N/A
Organs/Systems: Fruit – Digestion, Intestines, Skin, Heart. Kernel – Lung.
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Fruit: Antioxidant, Nutritious, Digestive. Kernal: Expectorant, Antitussive, Emollient, Laxative. Fruit: Highly nutritious, regulates blood sugar, lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol, constipation, improves vision problems related to diseases caused by aging, builds immunity, strengthens bones. Kernels: eases coughing, constipation, asthma.
Pin Yin: Xing (Translates as “apricot.”) / Xing Ren (Translates as “apricot kernel” or “pit.”)
Also Known As: Ku Xing Ren (Bitter or Northern Apricots Kernels, Bitter Almonds), Tian/Nan Xing Ren (Sweet Southern Apricot Kernels)
Meridians: Fruit – Spleen, Stomach, Heart. Kernel – Lung, Large Intestine.
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Fruit: Builds Qi & Blood/Supports Digestion: strengthens muscles, improves stamina, constipation, improves blood pressure, lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol. Regulates Fluids: quenches thirst, Detoxing. Kernel: Descends Lung Qi/Stops Cough: wheezing, coughing (especially chronic dry coughs), asthma, shortness of breath. Moistens the Intestines/Unblocks the Bowels: constipation. Topically: acne, dog bites and trichomonas vaginitis.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Fruit (Fresh or Dried), Pits
Flavors/Temps: Fruit – Sweet, Warm. Kernel – Bitter, Warm.
Caution: Fruit – Safe. Kernel – slightly toxic, large doses are not recommended. Not recommended for small children.
History/Folklore: The polyphenolic antioxidants and flavonoids found in apricots help protect against heart disease and the carotenoids and xanthophylls help protect your eyesight from age-related damage. The catechins found in apricots help prevent inflammation, a leading cause of many ailments, including protecting blood vessels from inflammation-related damage.
The high levels of vitamin A and C help build your immunity and protect your eyes and skin from diseases caused by aging.
The retinol in apricots is fat soluble, meaning the fruit dissolves easily in your digestion making it easier for its nutrients to be absorbed by your body.
Apricot’s fiber and potassium content help balance electrolyte levels that support your heart muscles as well as increasing the amount of good cholesterol while reducing the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). Apricots are also good for preventing anemia.
The calcium in apricots help build strong bones.
The Persians and Armenians have been cultivating apricots since very ancient times. Some say apricots were growing in India as far back as 3000 B.C. Dried apricots play an important role in Iran’s global trade.
In China, the famously long-lived Hunza people, living in the Himalaya mountains, have diets rich in apricots. It is one of their staple foods. They eat them raw and dried and use the pits for oil and medicine. The hard shells are used to fuel fires.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the fruits pits (AKA seeds or mature kernels) are used as a medicine to treat coughs, wheezing and to moisten the bowels.
Typical dosing for the kernels is 3-9g of powdered kernels.
The sweet southern variety (Tian/Nan Xing Ren) is not toxic and prefered for treating asthma, coughs and dry constipation. The bitter northern variety (Ku Xing Ren) is used to make “Bitter Almond Oil.”
The constituent, amygdalin, found in the kernels reduces the incidence and severity of coughing. It can also be slightly toxic as it generates hydrocyanic acid which is toxic. The slightly toxic substance is found in the superficial skin and tip of the kernel. The process of preparing the kernels removes the toxicity. The cancer fighting drug “Laetrile” is produced from amygdalin. However, apricot kernels as yet are not recommended as a cancer treatment or preventive in either China or the West. The amounts of this constituent that are needed to help prevent cancer would be too high and lethally toxic. Research continues to confirm the efficacy of amygalin, Laetrile and apricot kernels as a possible cancer fighting protocol, to date the studies are inconclusive with the results remaining too mixed to even confirm the use of Laetrile.
The fruit can be eaten without having to peel off the outer velvety skin.
The fruit can be distilled to make brandy and liqueurs, including the Italian liqueur, Amaretto (a name that means “bitter love.”)
Apricots traveled from China through Armenia to Europe and were then brought to the United States. California is the largest producer of apricots in the United States. The ancient Greeks called apricots, “Golden Eggs of the Sun.”
The Chinese associate apricots with education and medicine. They can also be a symbol for a beautiful women, good fortune and spring.
Fruit – Beta-carotene, Fiber, Vitamin C & A, Antioxidants (including Polyohenolic antioxidants like Flavonoids: Quercetin, Proanthcyanidins, Catechins, Hyrdroxycinnamics, Gallic acid, Caffeic acid, Coumaric acid, Ferulic acid), Xanthophylls, Carotenoids, Calcium. Seeds – Amino acids, Fatty oils (including: Oleic acid, Linoleic acid and Palmitic aicd), Amygdalin.
Peach or Plum?
Some people describe the flavor of an apricot to be musky and between the flavor of a peach or a plum, two fruits they are closely related to.
Bitter Almond Oil
Essential oil from the kernels are sold commercially as bitter almond oil.
Dried apricots were an important commodity on Persian trade routes.
References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page.
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