Chinese Honeysuckle

Botany And History

The Chinese honeysuckle is a creeping vine of ligneous properties that are commonly found thriving in warm, humid climates either in its wild or cultivated form. Thought to be Chinese in origin, the Chinese honeysuckle may in fact be of a Malaysian origin, although it can be found in several parts of Asia, especially in India and the Philippines. In the latter country, it is typically found wild, although it has been cultivated for ornamental uses has been introduced into selected tropical areas of the West where it is chiefly grown for its stunningly beautiful and vibrant flowers, as well as unique aroma. Elsewhere it is employed chiefly as a medicinal plant, with albeit limited usability when compared with other, far more versatile, medicinal plants.

The Chinese honeysuckle is characterized by its vine-like nature, although in actuality, it is no more than a climbing shrub that is capable of growing to as much eigth metres tall. It is redolent with large, oblongated leaves measuring as long as fifteen centimetres in the most mature of specimens, and characterized by a typically pointed end. The most discernable part of the plant is it flowers, which typically grow in clusters that fan-out in the form of wings. The flowers are not only very fragrant, but gaudy to the extreme, showing a variation of colours that blend into one another during the height of its efflorescence. While immature, the flowers begin to show pale-white to ivory-hued petals, later on changing to encompass hues that range from blood-red, purple, fuchia, pink, and even orange. They start out as tiny flowers that litter the end-points of the branches, only to flare-up later on in a uniquely symmetrical pattern that, when viewed from a cluster, typically resembles wings. [1]

The Chinese honeysuckle also sports tiny edible berries of a dark-red to maroon colour that are typically ellipsoidal in shape and replete with almost imperceptible serrations along the edge of its flesh. The berries have a large, black-hued central seed that is also edible. Nearly all of the constituent parts of the plant are employed medicinally, although its chiefly employed parts are its fruits and seeds.

Herbal Uses

Initially a wild-crafted medicinal plant, the Chinese honeysuckle is now primarily grown as an ornamental garden plant, usually for the purposes of creating tropically themed greenhouse spreads. It has proven to be highly popular due to the ease of its propagation (via replanting of stem cuttings, or from germinated seeds), and for its fragrant and colourful efflorescence. Its use as an ornamental plant originated in Chinese and Malaysian gardens, the practice of which later spread to the West, where it continues to this day. The employment of the plant for medicinal purposes however is highly alien to the Western scope of alternative medicine, and is chiefly relegated to the Asiatic sphere of herbalism.

The Chinese honeysuckle has long been employed by many Asiatic countries as a readily accessible antithemetic, antipyretic, and and anti-inflammatory. Despite the fact that the leaves are not as commonly employed for medicinal purposes as its seeds or fruits, it took possesses powerful medicinal effects. The large, mature leaves of the plant may be heated quickly over the flickering light of a candle or paraffin lamp and afterwards applied directly to the forehead as a quick remedy for headaches. Alternatively, a poultice of freshly pounded leaves may be placed on a warmed or cooled dishtowel and applied to the forehead to achieve the same beneficial effects. The poultice of leaves, when used as is, or combined with several drops to a teaspoon of coconut oil may be further employed for the treatment of a wide assortment of skin diseases, ranging from eczema, scabies, and general topical allergies. The leaf poultice may be further employed for the remedy of blocked bronchial passages when applied with a heated pad upon the chest of a patient. Applied to the forehead, it can be used as an external antipyretic, and is especially good for relieving mild to moderate fevers in children below the age of twelve. [2]

A mild decoction of the leaves has been employed traditionally for the treatment of mild to moderately strong coughing fits as well as for dysuria. Stronger decoctions of the leaves, typically (but not always) accompanied by the seeds of the plant have been employed as a mild paraciticidal agent. Weak infusions of dried leaves or very weak decoctions of the same material can be employed as a carminative for the relief of flatulence and colic in children. [3] The roots may also be decocted, typically by itself and drunk to help relieve the symptoms of rheumatism, arthrtitis, gout, and lumbago.

The gaudy and fragrant flowers of the Chinese honeysuckle may be decocted and drunk as an antipyretic or a carminative. Aside from its medicinal properties, the flowers are also edible, but they are rarely (if ever) consumed except for medicinal purposes.

These constituent parts aside, it is the fruit of the Chinese honeysuckle, and, subsequently, the seeds (which, if roasted or dried, is said to be akin in taste to freshly grated and sautéed coconuts), that are highly regarded in the field of alternative medicine. The edible fruit itself (the taste of which is redolent to almonds) is typically consumed for its carminative, anthelmintic, tonic, and analgesic properties. Eaten ripe, may help to reduce the severity of a fever, or help to provide relief from general aches and pains, especially if the whole pitted fruit is applied to the affected area (preferably of small size; i. e. an aching tooth, a tiny bruise, etc.). When consumed along with the seeds, the fruit is said to be far more effective as an anthelmintic, although it is the dried seeds extracted from the fruits itself that is celebrated as a time-honoured de-worming remedy. The raw dried seeds (or, in some instances the fresh seeds along with the whole fruits) are consumed in one swallow, usually with the help of water to aid in swallowing. This practice is a well-known remedy for all sorts of intestinal parasitism, and is traditionally prescribed to help expel pinworms, tapeworms, and flatworms. A number of seeds or ripe fruits (along with the seeds) needs be consumed in one sitting in order to facilitate its paraciticidal action. The name 'yesterday, today, and tomorrow' is actually a reference to its uncanny consumption, wherein as little as four to as much as ten seeds (depending on the age of the individual) must be consumed in either 'one go', or otherwise divided equally into a three-day treatment (yesterday, today, tomorrow), always two to three hours after meals (typically dinnertime). To further enhance its anthelmintic effects, it may be downed with the aid of a strong decoction of the combined leaves and fresh fruit of the plant. For a far more pleasant experience, the seeds may be ground into a fine powder and mixed with honey, of which two tablespoonfuls of the mixture must be consumed two hours after a meal. Allowed to infuse in oil, it may even be employed as a remedy for topical parasites, while a mild decoction of the seeds and leaves can be used as a remedy for leucorrheal discharges, rickets, fevers, and ulcers. Applied topically, it can aid in hastening the healing of boils and open wounds, as well as in staving off the possibility of infection. [4]

Chinese Honeysuckle - Contraindications And Safety

It should be noted that the prolonged consumption of any constituent parts of the Chinese honeysuckle may have detrimental side-effects, especially if taken in extremely large or very concentrated doses. The seeds, more so than the decoction of leaves, flowers, or roots pose greater dangers. Mild cases of overdosing are typically characterized by adverse reactions such as diarrhea, bloating, and hiccups. In the event of diarrhea, do not attempt to treat the problem with the same plant parts prescribed for carminative purposes. Extreme cases of overdose is characterized by severe abdominal pains typified by cramping, vomiting, dizziness, vertigo, dehydration (from diarrhea), cold sweats, and general weakness although this only occurs if a large number of seeds (numbering in ten to twelve seeds) are eaten all at once, or if prolonged consumption of seeds are undertaken for more than three days. Alternatively, fresh seeds may cause more adverse reactions than dried or roasted ones. As with any potentially dangerous herbal medicine, care and supervision must be paramount when prescribing it to children. Likewise, pregnant and nursing women should steer clear of any remedies containing or derived from Chinese honeysuckle.

Names of the Chinese Honeysuckle, Past and Present

Chinese: shin-chun-tzu
Malay: akar dani
Telugu: radha manoharam
Hindi: madhu malti / madhumalti
Filipino: niyog-niyogan (lit. 'akin to a coconut') / bonor / pinion / talulong
Spanish piñones / quiscual
English:: Chinese honeysuckle / Rangoon creeper / liane vermifuge / yesterday, today, and tomorrow (authentic, literal name)
Latin((esoteric): Combretum indicum
Latin (scientific nomenclature): Quisqualis indica





Main article researched and created by Alexander Leonhardt.

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