What Is Loquat Tree Leaf Used For?
Answered by: Robert Newman, L.Ac.
Question from: Victor Sienze
Posted on: May 19, 2004

Do you know the use of the loquat tree leaf? I’m told that it will help restore better vision.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Loquat leaf (Folium Eriobotrya japonica), or Pi Pa Ye ("pee pah yay"), is in the functional category of herbs that relieve coughing and wheezing. A number of the herbs in this category are used just to help treat the symptom of cough, acting as antitussives to stop the cough, and usually they are combined with other herbs in a formula to address some other factors that can occur with the cough which are felt to be the root of the problem. However, some of the herbs in this category also are useful for treating some of the concurrent problems such as any associated phlegm that can often occur with the cough or for treating symptoms that indicate what the Chinese identify as more heat-related or more cold-related conditions. These other associated issues are usually considered critical as root or causative factors in connection with coughs. As such, Pi Pa Ye is considered cooling and bitter and it is said to enter and affect the Lungs and Stomach channels and organs. From the standpoint of its main function -- which involves the Lungs -- it is used for stopping cough, clearing heat from the Lungs and transforming phlegm. This means it is treating indications such as coughs with phlegm usually present which is either yellow or green, possibly with blood present, and maybe a tight or restricted feeling in the chest. Pi Pa Ye also has a secondary traditional function which involves its effect on the stomach. It is said to harmonize the Stomach and clear heat in the Stomach while directing the Stomach Qi downward. So it will treat such symptoms as nausea, vomiting, hiccups, belching, acid regurgitation -- all of these symptoms worse with very hot (heated) foods, very spicy foods, very oily/greasy foods, coffee, often worse with stress or hot weather, and possibly accompanying other signs of Stomach heat such as toothache with redness and swelling, swollen painful gums that may bleed easily, thirst for cold liquids, constipation that’s dry and hard, and bad breath. This herb is often used in a decoction, boiled as a tea, typically with a formula of herbs prepared together in a pot, though it is also commonly found in cough syrups and sometimes pills or tinctures. The dosage as in a formula is usually about 9 grams.

So you can see that Loquat leaf is not traditionally used for helping the vision or the eyes. However, I found out on one website that the fruit has a modest amount of Vitamin A in it -- a vitamin which is well-known for its importance in good eye health: "As a source of Vitamin A (arotenoids) it can provide up to 5,800 UI per 100 g of fruit."

There was one formula I found (see the link below) which does have Loquat leaf in it and it is used for the eyes, but it is used for a VERY specific situation. It is used for eye problems -- particularly cataracts -- when the problems are caused by what the Chinese consider to be too much heat in the Stomach channel and organ. The Stomach channel, or meridian, is linked to the eyes because that channel is said to begin its path starting between the lower eyelids and the lower edge of the eyeballs. And according to TCM, heat in an organ itself can cause heat to develop in the channel associated with that organ and then adversely affect the tissues that that channel passes through. This heat in the Stomach channel is said to cause damage to the lenses and would be considered, in TCM, one possible cause for the proteins in the lenses to clump together and form cloudiness and/or hardness in that part of the eye. This formula, Gan Lu Yin, is used to clear the heat out of the digestive system, the Stomach and "Spleen" (this is the Chinese idea of the Spleen -- in TCM, the Stomach and "Spleen" corresponds particularly to the digestive function: see my explanation of this organ on the question I answered about Korean Ginseng for Richters Q & A page). This formula is specifically for treating: Stomach Yin deficiency heat (Yin is the fluid and material aspect of the body) with possible symptoms such as dry mouth and thirst which is worse in the late afternoon and night, mild constipation, acid regurgitation or heartburn, night sweats, waking during the night, afternoon and evening low grade fevers and a mild flushing of the cheeks, and a feeling of heat in the palms, soles of the feet and chest; and Spleen-Stomach damp-heat with such symptoms as bloating, gas, looser stools with possibly a stronger odor, and indigestion, all of which is worse with cold foods/drinks or sweets or fairly oily/greasy foods, and lowered appetite, a bitter taste in the mouth, fatigue, and musculoskeletal pains and complaints which are worse with damp weather and which may involve some swelling or edema and possibly some redness. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/cataracts.htm Formula to treat Stomach Yin Deficiency Heat and Damp Heat: "Ganlu Yin":

Eriobotrya japonica leaf (24 grams)

Asparagus cochinchinensis tuber (12 grams)

Ophiopogon japonicus tuber (12g)

Rehmannia glutinosa root, prepared (9g)

Rehmannia glutinosa root, raw (9g)

Dendrobium nobile herb (9g)

Scutellaria baicalensis root, Scute (9g)

Artemisia annua herb (9g)

Glycyrrhiza uralensis root, Licorice (6g)

I also found a study (see the links below) that was done on the seeds of Eriobotrya. Apparently, from the study, the Eriobotrya seeds demonstrated some beneficial effects for the Liver when prepared as alcohol extracts. This is linked to your question about Loquat’s influence on the vision. According to TCM, the eyes and the basic function of clear and healthy vision are strongly linked to and directly dependent on the health of the Liver -- the Liver is said to be the internal organ that is most strongly in control of the health of the eyes and the ability to have good vision. So if the seeds can improve the health of the Liver, then it’s entirely possible that they can also have a positive impact on the eyes and vision as well.

Taken from this study:

"Eriobotrya japonica is considered a medicinal plant, and its leaves (Eriobotrya folia) have been used to treat skin diseases, as well as to relieve inflammation, pain, coughing, and sputa. In our evaluation of the pharmacological efficacy of the seed extracts, constituents of the seeds were found to contain the unsaturated fatty acids linolenic and linoleic acids and the sterol beta-sitosterol in the 70% EtOH and the MeOH extracts... This suggests that the positive effect on liver function of the extracts varies depending on the extracting solvent used. 70% EtOH [ethanol] and MeOH [methanol] extract of the seeds inhibited the development of liver fibrosis in hepatopathic rats, thus exhibiting potent improvement. The unsaturated linolenic and linoleic acids and the sterol beta-sitosterol contained in these extracts may also contribute to the improvement of liver function."

(pdf version)


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