An Longevity Herb – Morinda Root

March 1, 2012 Trisha Han Oriental Herbal Medicine

In Chinese History, most Chinese Emperors have a relatively short life. From Chinese medicine point of view, their short lives were results of their involvement in hectic politics and their excessive indulgence in sex. (As you may know, ancient Chinese emperors are entitled to have dozens of wives). Both took their toll – physically and emotionally.

However, during the Manchu Dynasty (1644-1911), an emperor named Qian Long (1711 – 1799) lived till the age of 89. He had lived the longest life of all the Chinese emperors prior to his time. 89 may not appear to be long life by today’s standard. But keep in mind that the average life span of the Chinese people during that time is less than 40.

Emperor Qian Long was very proud of his longevity secret methods and he even called himself the “long-life emperor.” That Qian Long had managed to stay youthful and had lived a long life is a historical fact. The British ambassador to China at that time was said to have written something like this in his diary, “When I met Emperor Qian Long, he was already at the age of 83, but he looked as if he was only 60 years old. He was in perfect good health and surpassed young men in energy and spirits.”

Many Chinese physicians have attributed Qian Long’s longevity to his regular consumption of many herbs, but most notably, medicinal cornel fruit and morinda root. The fruit of medicinal cornel looks like a date, tastes sour and is found mostly in the mountains, which is why the Chinese call it “sour mountain date.”

But what makes this sour mountain date capable of promoting longevity? The story behind this is that the flowers of this plant appear as early as May, but its fruit do not become ripe until November, which means that it takes a longer period of time than other plants to bear fruit.

Moreover, in November when most other plants have died, the sour mountain date has not only survived, but its fruit are hanging from it elegantly. The fact that it takes a long time for the sour mountain date to bear fruit signifies that the fruit must have a certain element oflong life in them and the fact that this plant can resist the assault of severe winter cold means that there must be a quality of toughness in it.

The fruit of medicinal cornel was used as the “king ingredient” in a celebrated Chinese herbal formula, called “the eight-flavoured tablets,” during the third century A.D. This formula was used to treat many serious disorders, including diabetes, chronic nephritis and sexual weaknesses.

A “king ingredient” means that the ingredient plays a very important role in the formula. A report prepared by the National Peking Research Institute indicates that the fruit of medicinal cornel can promote urination and lower blood pressure for many hours.

What follows are standard, modern descriptions of this herb.

Morinda root is called “never-withering-and-falling” in Chinese because it is a creeping vine that hangs on persistently and “never withering and falling” means longevity in Chinese. The root of this plant, which is used for medicinal purposes, contains vitamin C and carbohydrates.


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