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Java Brucea (ya dan zi)

What is java brucea? What is it used for?

The java brucea is a type of deciduous tree native to the mountains of China, India and Indonesia. In China, it is produced mainly in the Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.

It can reach a height of approximately 20 feet, and produces small, berry-like fruits. The seeds are used medicinally; they are typically harvested in the late summer. After ripening, the fruit is picked and dried in the sun, after which the seeds are harvested for use.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, java brucea seed has bitter, cold, and slightly toxic properties, and is associated with the Large Intestine and Liver meridians. It has been used for centuries to treat dysentery and malaria. Externally, it can be made into an ointment to treat foot problems such as corns, and skin conditions such as warts. There is also some evidence that brucea, in combination with longan, may be effective in treating some types of cancerous tumors.

How much java brucea should I take?

The typical dose of java brucea for adults is between 5 and 12 seeds, taken up to three times per day. Some practitioners may recommend larger doses (15-30 seeds) depending on the condition being treated. Java brucea can also be applied externally as a cream or ointment.

What forms of java brucea are available?

Java brucea is available in a variety of forms. In addition to whole seeds, some vendors sell java brucea powders, capsules, tablets and oils. It is often used with other herbs as part of a larger formula.

What can happen if I take too much java brucea? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Because of its toxic properties, java brucea should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, nor should it be given to small children. In addition, it should not be taken by patients with nausea and vomiting, or those with pre-existing liver or kidney disorders.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions associated with java brucea. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking java brucea or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Kim IH, Takashima S, Hitotsuyanagi Y, et al. New quassinoids, javanicolides C and D and javanicosides B--F, from seeds of brucea javanica. J Nat Prod May 2004;67(5):863-8.
  • Luyengi L, Suh N, Fong HH, et al. A lignan and four terpenoids from brucea javanica that induce differentiation with cultured HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells. Phytochemistry September 1996;43(2):409-12.
  • Su BN, Chang LC, Park EJ, et al. Bioactive constituents of the seeds of brucea javanica. Planta Med August 2002;68(8):730-3.
  • Wang F, Cao Y, Liu HY, et al. Experimental studies on the apoptosis of HL-60 cells induced by brucea javanica oil emulsion. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi August 2003;28(8):759-62.
  • Xie H, Deng H, Huang S, et al. Studies on the chemical components of brucea javanica. Zhong Yao Cai August 1998;21(8):398-400.
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