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Fruits as Medicine

by: Yin-fang and Liu, Cheng-jun Dai

Kuranda Australia: Ram Skull Press 1986, $22.95, Paperback
ISBN: 0-909901-61-9

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 1997 Issue: 4(4) page(s): 16

Translated from the Chinese by Ron Edwards and Zhi-mei Gong, this 1982 book originally was published in Nanning in China under the titled Yao Yong Guo Pin. This first English edition details one hundred sixty-five selected fruits, most known in the west. This paperback is a wonderful way to learn about their historical-medicinal beliefs under the guidance of the principal author, Dai Yin-fang, who lectures about the use of plants in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) at Guangxi Medical College. He and his co-author, Liu Cheng-jun, point out that some of the fruits are used fresh and others dried, and in some cases, only certain parts of the plant help in things such as nourishing the body or promote external healing.

Each fruit is listed with botanical name, common name(s), and ideograph transliterated in Pinyan Chinese. Each comes with a black and white line drawing, some background information, various applications for health, other general preparation advice in grams amounts and yet additional explanations.

The book is valuable and the authors say there are "no miracle cures but rather a sensible approach to self tratment for a variety of common ailments" and "it must be stressed that medical advice should be sought in case of a serious illness."

The list of syptoms suggest how to relieve a bitter taste in the mouth using almond and watermelon, or aiding those who suffer with car sickness with pommelo, Chinese flowering quince, or wampi. These may be fine to try, but without proper medical help, treating tuberculosis with apricot seeds, ginkgo, or monkey pear or helping a middle ear inflammation with walnuts is not only practicing poor medicine but also potentially endangering health. For these and others, seeking medical advice and not self-treatment is in order.

Fortunately, most of the symptoms discussed are common and are not life-threatening ailments. Looking up loss of appetite, indigestion, and hangovers may be OK, but we do not recommend treating impetigo, high blood pressure, a hernia or other items needing a doctor's attention.

Besides medical concerns, do not try to follow all of the advice because to heal a bitter taste in your mouth, means considerable trouble finding information about almonds in the text. They are not in the alphabetic index nor could I locate them elsewhere. What is there, to change that taste, are bits of advise listed under watermelon, a fruit with ten medical uses including getting relief from a bitter taste. For bad breath, it says to take "500-1000 grams of melon and eat it. Do this 1-2 times a day."

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