Chestnut – the Rice that Grows on Trees
Rasa (taste in the mouth): sweet and astringent
Virya (potency): cold in the first degree
Vipak (final transformation, post digestive effect): sweet
Prabhava (specific potency): positive – for the heart, pericardium, arteries, veins, capillaries and meningeal membrane
Guna (property): sattva +++
Influence on doshas: V ↑ P ↓ K ↑
Recommended time of consumption: from 10 am to 2 pm
Cultural and historical information:
Botanists call the fruit of a Chestnut an acorn, it has a thin woody shell that does not fuse with the kernel. Chestnuts are native to Asia Minor and Southern Europe. Basically all that we see here is Horse Chestnut, which is not edible and slightly toxic and is good for medicine only. The other name of this tree is Conker Tree.
Sweet Chestnut or Spanish Chestnut can be safely eaten if you have no contraindications (see below).
While cultivated or wild Sweet Chestnuts are edible, Horse Chestnuts are toxic, and can cause digestive disorders such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, or throat irritation.
To distinguish Horse Chestnuts from Sweet Chestnuts:
Observe the shape of the nuts and of the “cupule” that encases them:
The Sweet Chestnut’s cupule is brown and has numerous long bristly spines. It contains two to three nuts at a time, which are fairly small, flattened and triangular;
Horse Chestnut cupules are thick and green, with small, short, wider spaced spikes, and generally contain only one larger rounded nut.
Look at where the trees are located and examine their leaves:
Horse Chestnut trees are found in cities, parks, alleys and schoolyards… while Sweet Chestnut trees grow in woods, forests or orchards;
Each Horse Chestnut leaf consists of several oval “leaflets”, which give the whole leaf a palm-shaped appearance, whereas Sweet Chestnut leaves are simple and elongated without leaflets.
Raw Sweet Chestnuts can be eaten fresh straight from the tree. They are also fried, baked in the oven, and the dried ones are boiled or ground into flour. Chestnuts are very nourishing and nutritious, they contain a lot of carbohydrates and vitamins. Where they are eaten, they are used in the same way as potatoes. The Chinese consume 40% of the world’s chestnuts.
Physiological and therapeutic effect:
The bark, leaves and fruits contain triterpenoids, saponins, phenols, catechins, tannins, aldehydes, coumarins, vitamins C, K, B1 and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The saponins and phenols of chestnuts have the ability to inhibit cholesterol synthesis at the liver level. Catechins and vitamin K strengthen the endothelium of the arteries, small capillaries and veins. And coumarins prevent blood clots by reducing platelet aggregation. All these effects are widely used in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, especially atherosclerosis and its clinical manifestations such as angina pectoris, acute myocardial infarction and strokes. Biologically active substances of chestnuts enhance venous tone, therefore they are prescribed for varicose veins, thrombophlebitis and chronic vertebro-basilar insufficiency.