Part Used: Internally – Leaves, Externally – Khaki tannin
Principal Use: Poor blood vessel integrity, haemorrhoids, bleeding, weak capilliaries, varicose veins
Principal Actions: Astringent, hemostat
History and Traditional Uses of Kaki
The Kaki tree is tall and deciduous with glossy ovate leaves. So magnificent, it is easy to understand how ancient people came to notice it amongst the other trees of the forest. Historians believe that its wild ancestor was introduced to Japan from the Asian continent in the pre-historic era.
When the wild tree was cultivated in Japan, it produced sour fruits. However, after thousands of years of careful breeding, a sweet fruited Kaki evolved. The fruit ripens
in Autumn and in the Japanese psyche, no fall is complete without its delicious taste. Sweet kaki’s are eaten fresh, the way westerners eat the apple.
Though the Japanese developed trees that produced sweet fruit, they also maintained the wild sour varieties. Indeed, sour kaki fruits are as popular as the sweet varieties. The curious feature of the sour fruits are that when dried, they stop being sour and develop a pleasing sweet taste. Through a series of natural chemical reactions, the sour flesh develops a tangy sweetness. In the old days, when sugar was a rarity, the sweetness of the dried sour Kaki was highly prized. These dried fruits were used to sweeten food and also as a medicine. The scene of sour Kaki fruits drying under the eaves of a house is another powerful image in Japanese culture.
Persimmon fruits, sweet and sour, are high in tannins. These tannins decrease as the fruit ripens, but while green, they are highly tannic. Long ago the Japanese learned to craft Kaki-tannin (Kaki siccatus succus) out of the green fruits. Kaki tannin is prepared by pressing the unripe fruits and then fermenting the resulting juice. This unusual substance is always made from sour Kaki fruit, because they are richer in tannins than the sweet varieties. Kaki-tannin has factored into medicine and domestic life. It is used to treat snakebite, to weather proof materials, and to stop hemorrhoids from bleeding!
The Kaki tree might be seen as a medicine chest all in one. The leaf is seen as being antihemorrhagic and hypotensive and is used to stop bleeding and reduce blood pressure.
The fruit is seen as being an astringent, styptic, stomachic, and hypotensive agent. It is used to treat diarrhea, enterorrhagia, hemorrhoids, ulcers, and hypertension. The peduncle is seen as a bitter astringent and is used to treat cough, hiccough, and acid reflux. The extracted tannin is used for all of these purposes.
The key to the traditional uses of Kaki is its tannin content. Like other tannin containing plants (i.e. witch hazel and oak) Kaki has the capacity to stop bleeding, to dry secretions of all sorts, and to reduce inflammation.
The Science of Kaki
Leaf: tannins, kaempferol-3glucoside, quercetine-3glucoside, vitamin C, shibuol
Extracted, Khaki-tannin is astringent, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, and hemostatic. It can be applied to any sort of inflammation to reduce swelling. This substance can be applied to an injured knee of swollen haemorrhoids with fine results.
Khaki leaf products have an advantage over Kaki-tannin. They are palatable! Kaki tannin can be a bit hard on the palate! These mild flavored leaves have been popular as a general tonic and contemporary science is revealing why this is the case.
Firstly, when Kaki leaves are steamed like green tea, their remarkably high vitamin C content is preserved. Prepared like this, conditions requiring large amounts of Vitamin C can be remedied with its use. The leaves are also rich in beta-carotene and tannins. The leaf actions are more or less similar to Kaki-tannin with the added benefit of vitamin c and beta-carotene content. On the most basic level, the leaf products are a boon to nutrition.
Beyond this, chemists have determined that the tannin in Khaki-tannin is a substance known as shibuol. This unique compound has a very similar chemical formula to rutin which is one of the vitamin P complexes. It has been shown to have the same effect as that of rutin. It strengthens blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. This has been established in both animal and human clinical trials.
In clinical trials, Kaki leaves were proven to reduce high blood pressure and stop bleeding.
In other clinical trials of people suffering from hemorrhages of the fundus of the eye, patients had less hemorrhaging and recovered more rapidly when such a hemorrhage occurred. Unlike Kaki-tannin which tends to cause constipation, the leaf of the plant is used as a mild laxative. Laboratory research reveals that when capillary or larger blood vessels are weak, regular khaki leaf use makes a difference.
Practitioner Recommended Uses of Kaki
There are two main applications for the products of the Kaki tree. Firstly, there is no better a treatment for haemorrhoids than Kaki-tannin. Topically applied, haemorhoids improve rapidly. Continual application can lead to resolution of the condition. Secondly, kaki leaves can be used by those with poor blood vessels, whether spider veins, easy bruising, or varicose veins is the problem. When weak blood vessels are a problem, practitioners think of a daily dose of Khaki leaves.
• James Duke, Medicinal Plants of China, p290, 1985
• Kung-Ying Yen, The Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica, SMC Publishing INC.,p138, 1992
• Kazuo Izawa, Color Encyclopedia of Medicinal Herbs, Shufunotomosha, p539,1998
• Tsuneo Nanba : Encyclopedia of Chinese-Japanese medicine, Hoikusha,1993
• Tsuneo Nanba, Chinese and Japanese medicine, Toho-shuppan, 1996
• Keijun Imai, Folklore of Kaki, Gendai-souzou-sha,1990
• Hidefumi Yamashita, On the utilization of Persimmon Leaves, Fukuoka-igaku-zasshi 47, p824-837, 1956
Disclaimer: The author makes no guarantees as to the the curative effect of any herb or tonic on this website, and no visitor should attempt to use any of the information herein provided as treatment for any illness, weakness, or disease without first consulting a physician or health care provider. Pregnant women should always consult first with a health care professional before taking any treatment.