Beverley has a degree in science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.
Cnidium is best known for treating erectile dysfunction (ED), lethargic libido, and skin conditions. In its native China, the herb was traditionally used to treat rashes, eczema, and wounds. Today it’s an active ingredient in skin creams, lotions, and ointments. However, the discovery and analysis of Cnidium indicate that its constituents have bitter, acrid, and warming effects, which may elicit more health benefits. So, what exactly is Cnidium?
Description of Cnidium
Cnidium or Cnidium monnieri is a Chinese perennial plant. Other names include snow parsley, Cnidium Fruit, Cnidium Fruit Extract, Cnidii Monnieri Fructus, Cnidium Seeds, and She Chuang Zi. It is also found in Vietnam, Eastern Europe, and Oregon in the United States. It belongs to the Umbelliferae now called the Apiaceae family. Other plants in this group include celery, parsley, and carrot.
The white flower clusters bloom from May to July. The fruits and seeds, which mature from July through August, are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Other parts of the plant are also utilized for health purposes.
Cnidium monnieri is often confused with Cnidium officinale Makino, whose parts are used in Chinese and Korean traditional medicine to treat brain disease, anemia, and menstruation issues. It’s also used as a sedative.
Cnidium Nutritional Profile
Researchers have discovered numerous active compounds with potential properties for human health in Cnidium Fruit. At least 350 different phytochemicals have been found. The coumarins, which include osthole, xanthotoxin, imperatorin, isopimpinellin, and cnidimarin, seem to be the most prominent and most beneficial.
The bioactive osthole or osthol, which is described as “a fragrant, organic, benzopyrone compound,” is the primary coumarin derivative.
Other ingredients include torilin and 1-hydroxytorilin and other sesquiterpenes, terpenoids including camphene, alpha-pinene, and limonene, daucosterol, and chromones.
Cnidium Seed by Elwin Robinson
Health Benefits of Cnidium
What possible health benefits does Cnidium Fruit Extract have? The compounds in Cnidium seem to have properties that function similarly to bitter, acrid, and warming foods. What do I mean by that?
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Cnidium Compounds Bitter Characteristics and Health Benefits
You may know that individuals who practice traditional medicine, especially in Chinese and East Asian (Indian) cultures, have always used bitter roots and herbs to concoct tonics for cleansing or detoxifying the body, especially the liver, as diuretics, and to promote good inner balance, digestive and cardioprotective effects.
Modern-day research on many of those bitter roots and herbs, and on bitter foods such as dark chocolate, kale, brussels sprouts, cinnamon, and coffee show them to have coumarins and other phenolic compounds that affect our health.
The osthol coumarin derivative in Cnidium, seems to work like the polyphenols in those bitter herbs, roots, and foods. It stimulates bile production and decreases the fatty tissues in the liver, especially fats created by alcohol, milk, and other such food sources. As a result, liver cells inflammation and oxidative stress are significantly reduced.
Research also indicates that the torilin compounds may protect liver cells from the drug Tacrine, which is used to boost the function of neurological cells. The drug is approved for Alzheimer's patients.
Cnidium Compounds Acrid Characteristics and Health Benefits
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word ‘acrid’ as “sharp and harsh or unpleasantly pungent in taste and odor: irritating.” Acrid is also associated with words like ‘tart,’ ‘sour’ and ‘strongly acidic.’ Foods within this category such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and even coffee have a pH of between 0 and 7.
In what is known as the acid-ash theory, food pH is determined by potential renal acid load or PRAL. Simply stated, PRAL refers to the amount of acid the body produces after digesting various foods. Most medical experts tend to speak poorly of acrid foods. They consider them unhealthy because overconsumption can cause a host of issues including digestive, heart disease, diabetes, and poor kidney function. But acrid foods and herbs like Cnidium may contain antispasmodic compounds that support health as well.
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Antispasmodic Compounds in Cnidium Fruit Extract
The terpenoids in Cnidium monnieri seem to have antispasmodic qualities which may benefit individuals with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and irritable uterus (which cause miscarriages). Antispasmodic compounds act as muscle relaxants.
One study also shows Cnidium’s coumarins, including osthole, effects on penile erectile tissue relaxation. The coumarins elevate the levels of the blood’s nitric oxide to increase blood flow and increase testosterone levels, which is necessary for erection and sustainability. Hence the herb’s use as an ED aid.
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Cnidium Compounds Warming Characteristics and Health Benefits
What are warming foods? Foods, usually herbs and spices, that warm the body. Examples of foods, herbs, and spices with high thermal properties are cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, peppers, pumpkin, and tea. What makes these foods thermal stimulants? The warming properties of their coumarins and other bioactive polyphenols, according to researchers.
Cnidium monneiri can be categorized as a warming herb because its coumarins and bioactive components also display those high thermal characteristics.
The potential health benefits of such foods and Cnidium include:
. Reducing inflammation caused by osteoporosis.
. Increasing energy levels in the body.
. Enhancing both women’s and men’s sexual libidos.
Other (Well-Known) Health Benefits of Cnidium
Research indicates that Cnidium bioactive components may also boost cognitive function (good for Alzheimer’s patients), protect the heart by maintaining proper cholesterol levels, treat infertility, increase muscle mass, heal wounds, act as an anticancer agent, and as a carminative.
Cnidium Fruit Extract Supplement
How to Take Cnidium Fruit Extract
Currently, there are no dosing standards for consuming Cnidium fruit extract. It is advised that individuals follow instructions provided by manufacturers and packaging labels.
There’s no medical evidence to support Cnidium curing, treating, or preventing disease in humans. Always consult your healthcare provider before consuming any food source or supplements for health and wellbeing purposes.
Side Effects and Safety Concerns of Cnidium
As with any other food source or supplement, individuals consuming Cnidium fruit extract may develop allergies. Allergic symptoms can include nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, nausea, vomiting, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis.
There is no known research on the herb’s interaction with drugs or its effect on pregnant and breastfeeding women. Individuals in those categories should exercise caution and avoid taking it.
Cnidium or Cnidium monnieri is a perennial herb with Chinese heritage. But it can grow elsewhere even in the United States. In China, the fruit extract is commonly used to treat skin conditions such as rashes, eczema, and wounds. It is also a popular treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) and enhanced sexual performance in both men women.
These health benefits are due to the plant’s polyphenolic compounds, including coumarins, sesquiterpenes, and terpenoids. Research indicates that the compounds may also express bitter, acrid, and warming effects, which enable the herb to potentially offer additional health benefits such as:
As a bitter herb: detoxifying the body including the liver, promoting good inner balance, improving the digestive system, gut microbiota, and heart issues.
As an acrid herb: treating irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and irritable uterus and other spasmodic conditions.
As a warming herb: boosting the immune system, maintaining blood pressure levels, and increasing energy.
Again, there’s no medical evidence to support Cnidium curing, treating, or preventing disease in humans. This article simply provides information. Always consult your healthcare provider before consuming any food source or supplements for health and wellbeing purposes.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.