English Name: prunus seed, bush cherry pit
Pharmaceutical Name: Semen Pruni
Medica Category: Downward Draining Herbs—Moist Laxatives
Properties: Yu Li Ren enters the Spleen, Large Intestine, and Small Intestine channels; it is acrid, bitter, and sweet in nature and neutral in temperature.
The Chinese Herb Yu Li Ren is the dried seed from two different species of bush cherry shrub/tree: Prunus japonica (commonly known as the Japanese bush cherry), which grows in the mountain valleys of central China and Inner Mongolia; and Prunus humulis (commonly known simply as the bush cherry or the Chinese dwarf cherry), which is native farther to the north and east in China. Both species flower in the Spring with beautiful pink flowers and produce their seeds later in the summer and into the fall. The seeds are harvested, peeled, dried, and pounded into small pieces or granules for use as medicine.
Yu Li Ren moistens the intestines and relieves constipation; it is most properly indicated for constipation due to qi stagnation in the intestines.
Yu Li Ren regulates water circulation and reduces swelling to address edema and/or leg qi with difficult urination and constipation.
Use with caution during pregnancy.
Use with caution in cases of yin deficiency with depletion of fluids.
This herb and Huo Ma Ren (cannabis seed) have similar effects; however, Yu Li Ren is stronger, promotes urination, treats edema, and is used for excess disorders whereas Huo Ma Ren is gentler and nourishing, and better treats deficiency conditions. The two herbs can be used together in formula (along with other purgatives herbs such as Xing Ren (apricot seed) and Bai Zi Ren (biota seed)) to address more complex patterns involving constipation.