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Torreya Seed (fei zi)

What is torreya seed? What is it used for?

The torreya is a type of evergreen tree found not only in China and Japan, but also North America. The torreya has large, linear, bristling leaves and an aromatic wood, which often smells rather foul. The tree produces large, globular fruit, which encompasses a large seed.

The seeds of the torreya are used in medicinal remedies. They are gathered in the wintertime when the fruit of the plant is ripe, then dried in the sun.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, torreya seeds have sweet and neutral properties, and are associated with the Lung, Large Intestine and Small Intestine meridians. Its main functions are to kill intestinal parasites such as hookworms, tapeworms and roundworms, and to treat indigestion and other digestive disorders. It can also relax the bowels and treat constipation. Torreya seeds are often used with other herbs, such as areca seed, quisqualis and basket fern.

How much torreya seed should I take?

The typical dosage of torreya seed is between 30 and 50 grams per day, drunk with water as a decoction. The seeds should be crushed prior to cooking. As an alternative, some practitioners recommend that the seeds be ground up into a type of bolus with honey and consumed orally. If being used in a decoction, raw torreya seeds should be used.

What forms of torreya seed are available?

Whole, dried torreya seed can be found at some herbal shops. Powdered torreya seed may be available at some specialty stores and nutrition stores, along with torreya pills and capsules.

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

As of this writing, there are no known side-effects or drug interactions associated with torreya seeds. As always, however, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking torreya seed or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.


  • Chen JK, Chen TT. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry, CA: Art of Medicine Press, 2004, pp. 549-550.
  • Gao WY, Jia W, Duan HQ, et al. Industrialization of medicinal plant tissue culture. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi May 2003;28(5):385-90.
  • Kim SH, Jang YP, Sung SH, et al. Hepatoprotective dibenzylbutyrolactone lignans of torreya nucifera against CCl4-induced toxicity in primary cultured rat hepatocytes. Biol Pharm Bull August 2003;26(8):1202-5.
  • Li SH, Zhang HJ, Niu XM, et al. Chemical constituents from amentotaxus yunnanensis and torreya yunnanensis. J Nat Prod July 2003;66(7):1002-5.
  • Zhou DZ, Yi YH, Mao SL, et al. The lignins from torreya grandis cv. Merrilli. Yao Xue Xue Bao April 2004;39(4):269-71.
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