Evodia fruit is the small, reddish fruit of the plant Evodia rutaecarpa. This plant is native to northern China and Korea, although it is cultivated as an ornamental landscaping plant in many other places in the world.
E. rutaecarpa is a deciduous tree that grows to a height of about 30 ft (10 m) along the sunny edges of woodlands and in suburban settings as an ornamental. It has long, dark green, shiny leaves and blooms with many small clusters of white flowers in the summer. The fruit, which is the part of the plant used in healing, is reddish when it appears in August and darkens to black by November. The fruit is harvested for medicinal purposes when it is not yet ripe and reddish brown in color. It is then either used fresh or dried. Evodia fruit is also known by its Chinese name wu zhu yu and is called gosyuyu in Japan.
Evodia fruit has been used since at least the first century A.D. in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It is characterized as having a warm nature and an acrid, bitter, slightly toxic taste, although the fruit is quite fragrant.
Taken internally, evodia fruit is used to treat symptoms of abdominal distress. These include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is said to be especially effective in treating morning diarrhea. Evodia is used to stimulate the appetite and to treat abdominal symptoms associated with lack of interest in food.
Evodia is also used as a painkiller. It is a remedy for headaches, especially headaches associated with nausea and vomiting. Traditional Chinese herbalists also use it to treat pain in the upper abdomen and pain associated with abdominal hernias. According to Chinese herbalism, the warm nature of the evodia fruit counteracts cold conditions in the stomach.
There are several other reported uses of evodia fruit. The root bark taken internally is considered useful for expelling parasitic tapeworms and pinworms. The fruit is also believed to have contraceptive properties. Various healers report that the fruit also has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-viral, astringent, and diuretic properties. Although evodia fruit has been used for thousands of years in China, its use has recently increased in Japan.
Scientists, primarily from Japan and China, have undertaken laboratory studies of evodia fruit to determine which traditional uses are supported by modern medical findings. Chinese researchers in Taiwan have consistently reported that extracts of evodia fruit interfere with blood clotting. In the future, this finding could be of significance in treating stroke.
Japanese researchers have discovered that in test tube studies extracts of evodia fruit strongly inhibit the growth of one specific bacteria (Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria usually treated in mainstream medicine with antibiotics). Unlike conventional antibiotics, the extract did not alter the growth patterns of any other intestinal bacteria. This finding supports the traditional use of evodia fruit in digestive disorders.
Other Japanese researchers have found that compounds extracted from dried evodia fruit have anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties in dogs. Reduction of pain is believed to occur because the compounds interfere with pain receptors.
Evodia fruit can be used fresh, or it can be dried and ground into a powder for medicinal use. Powdered evodia fruit is sometimes mixed with vinegar to make a paste that is applied externally to the navel to relieve indigestion. A similar paste is applied to the soles of the feet to treat high blood pressure or directly to sores in the mouth. Powdered evodia fruit is also taken internally.
Evodia fruit is often mixed with other herbs, such as ginger, pinellia root, or coptis, in formulas to control vomiting. In addition, evodia fruit is used in the TCM formulas ilex and evodia to treat symptoms of cold and flu, including fever, chills, swollen glands, and sort throat.
Evodia fruit is considered by herbalists to be slightly toxic. They recommend that people not take this herb without supervision to prevent overdose and side effects associated with long-term use. Pregnant women should not use evodia fruit. Women who desire to conceive a child should keep in mind that evodia fruit is thought to have anti-fertility properties.
Herbalists consider evodia fruit mildly toxic.
Evodia fruit is often used in conjunction with other herbs with no reported interactions. Since evodia fruit has been used almost exclusively in Chinese medicine, there are no studies of its interactions with Western pharmaceuticals.
Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. London: Dorling Kindersley Publishers, 1996.
Molony, David. Complete Guide to Chinese Herbal Medicine. New York: Berkeley Books, 1998.
American Association of Oriental Medicine (AAOM). 433 Front Street, Catasauqua, PA 18032. (610) 266-2433
"Plants for the Future: Evodia rutaecarpa." http://www.metalab.unc.edu (January 17, 2001).
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