The Japanese Raisin tree is scientifically known as Hovenia dulcis Thunb.. It is a deciduous fruit tree in the Rhamnaceae family. The fruit has long been revered by those adopting Chinese traditional medicine as well as in Korea and Japan. It is a food supplement but in East Asia has a long history in treating liver diseases and detoxifying the blood after alcohol poisoning (Hyun et al., 2010).
Description Of The Japanese Raisin
The plant grows in a large area from Japan, Korea to East China. It is found in the Himalayas at altitudes up to 2,000 metres. It prefers a sunny position in moist sandy or loamy soils. The plant is now cultivated in China. The tree has now become a major invasive weed in South America and East Africa because it is grown as an ornamental.
The plant is described as a glabrous tree with lenticular branches with a height of 10 metres. The leaves are membranous with up to 6 cm long petioles which are broadly ovate, 8 to 15 cm long and 6 to 12 cm wide. The folaige is glossy green but turns a dark brown when dry.
The fruits when ripe are red-brown are eaten either raw or cooked and look like raisins when dried. These have a slight estery flavour which is not that far removed from the taste and aroma of pear. The fruit is ideal for confectionary including candy and cake decoration. Some ingredient specialists suggest it is an alternative to honey because of its exceptionally sweet flavour. The pressed juice is often fermented to make wine or vinegar.
In cultivation, a heavy frost is said to produce the best quality raisins because the sweetness is intensified.
Health Properties Of Japanese Raisin
We have already briefly mentioned the value in treating liver ( hepatic) issues but there is also some benefits in treating fevers by acting as an antipyretic and also in treating parasite infections. The seeds too are used as a diuretic and also for treating hangovers.
The Japanese Raisin has long been used to treat hangovers and intoxication following heavy bouts of drinking. One study in 1999 established an alcohol lowering effect of the blood in mice. It is reasoned that compounds in the raisin might help with metabolism of alcohol in a more effective manner hence the properties of relieving drunkenness.
The stem bark is used as treatment for rectum issues.
Health & Safety Risks
At the moment there are no known risks associated with consuming the fruit. One study reported in the Pharmacognosy Magazine has examined possible interaction between H. dulcis and drugs. To date there have been no drug interactions noted which implies it is currently safe to use with other medication although confirmatory studies have not been conducted in humans or indeed any animals.
2010). Hovenia dulcis–an Asian traditional herb. Planta Medica, 76, pp. 943–949 (Article), , & (