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Phaseolus (chi xiao dou)

What is phaseolus? What is it used for?

The phaseolus is a family of climbing, twining plants that grow in the world's warmer climates. Some types of phaseolus are grown for ornamental purposes (many types produce bright, fragrant flowers), while others are used as food. The phaseolus family produces several types of beans, including butterbeans, lima beans and string beans.

The type of phaseolus used most often is phaseolus calcaratus, also known as the aduki bean. The aduki bean is oblong, slightly flattened, with a purplish-red exterior and a slightly sweet taste. The beans are gathered in the fall, then dried in the sun. In traditional Chinese medicine, the aduki bean is sweet and sour, with cold properties, and is associated with the Spleen, Heart and Small Intestine meridians. Among the conditions phaseolus is used to treat are edema, jaundice, stranguria, and skin ulcers such as carbuncles and boils. It can be applied directly to the skin or taken orally.

How much phaseolus should I take?

The amount of phaseolus to be taken depends on the condition being treated. For edema and jaundice, the typical dosage of phaseolus is between 1.5 and 4.5 grams, powdered and taken with other herbs as a decoction. Larger doses (10-30 grams) can be used when it is applied to the skin.

What forms of phaseolus are available?

Dried phaseolus (aduki bean) can be found at many Asian markets. Phaseolus powders, infusions and decoctions are also available.

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

As of this writing, there are no known side-effects associated with phaseolus, provided it is taken in the proper dosage. However, it should be used with caution by patients taking diabetes medications. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking phaseolus or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Costa W, Ariyawabsha B, De Costa W. Effects of water stress on water use efficiency of different varieties of common bean (phaseolus vulgaris L). Journal of the National Science Council of Sri Lanka 1996;34 (4):253-266
  • Costa W, Becher M, Schubert S, et al. Effects of water stress on nitrogen fixation of common bean (phaseolus vulgaris L). Journal of the National Science Council of Sri Lanka 1997;25 (2):83-94.
  • Guene NFD, Diouf A, Gueye M. Nodulation and nitrogen fixation of field grown common bean (phaseolus vulgaris) as influenced by fungicide seed treatment. African Journal of Biotechnology July 2003;2(7):198-201.
  • Pirman T, Combe E, Mirand PP, et al. Differential effects of cooked common bean (phaseolus vulgaris) and lentil (lens esculenta puyensis) feeding on protein and nucleic acid contents in intestines, liver and muscles in rats. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism 2004;48:281-287.
  • Sauer JD. Historical Geography of Crop Plants - A Select Roster. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1993.
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