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Sweet Apricot Seed

Sweet Apricot Seed

A Traditional Chinese Medicine for Lubricating Dry Symptoms and Suppressing Cough

Sweet Apricot, also known as Tianxingren, is a traditional Chinese medicinal herb belonging to the Rosaceae family. Renowned for its sweet taste and neutral energy, this herb is widely used in treating dry cough, asthma, and constipation. Its scientific name is Prunus armeniaca Linne, and it is also known as Semen armeniacae Dulcis in pharmaceutical terms. Let's delve deeper into the properties, actions, and lore of this remarkable herb.


Sweet Apricot is classified as a herb for lubricating dry symptoms and as a herb to suppress cough and reduce sputum. It primarily targets the lungs and large intestine meridians. The recommended dosage for this herb is 10g, and the ripe seed is used as a medicinal part. Its flavor is sweet, and its energy is neutral.

Actions and Indications

The primary actions of Sweet Apricot are to lubricate the lungs, expel sputum, suppress cough, and relieve asthma. It is indicated for the treatment of dry cough, asthma, and constipation.

Lore and Traditional Use

According to an ancient story, a 60-year-old woman from the Wen Feng Commune suffered from a severe illness and was overweight. As her condition seemed incurable, her family began preparing for her funeral. An old Chinese doctor of traditional medicine suggested she grind 450g of sweet apricot and 450g of water lily into a fine powder and take it regularly. Miraculously, the woman recovered from her illness after finishing the powder and remained healthy afterward.

There are two types of apricot kernel: bitter apricot kernel (kuxingren) and sweet apricot kernel (tianxingren). Tianxingren is larger than kuxingren and is better suited for treating chronic or dry cough without sputum due to yin deficiency of the lungs. Kuxingren, on the other hand, is beneficial for coughing and asthma and abundant sputum due to the common cold, as well as constipation.

Sun Shu Mao (581-682), in his classic work One Thousand Ounces Gold Classic, published in 682, introduced a formula for longevity called "sweet apricot mixture." The mixture is made by frying 5kg of sweet apricot kernel, grinding it into powder, immersing it in rice wine, straining the liquid, and mixing it with 2.5kg of honey. The resulting 7.5kg mixture is boiled over low heat until it thickens like jelly. A dosage of 20 to 35g of this liquid helps in recovering from illnesses and achieving longevity.


Sweet Apricot, or Tianxingren, has been an essential component of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Its effectiveness in lubricating the lungs, expelling sputum, suppressing cough, and relieving asthma has made it a popular choice for treating various respiratory ailments. With its rich history and proven benefits, Sweet Apricot continues to be a valuable herbal remedy in modern times.

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