Fox nut is a type of seed we add into our weekly cereal or soup on a regular basis to help maintain overall health. My mom says it specifically helped her aging eyes and sight – over a period of time. She also says it is good for the lower back and knees, and I found that it is used as a treatment for arthritis and rheumatic pains. It is in the waterlily family and is traditionally known as analgesic, aphrodisiac, astringent, deobstruent, oxytoxic, and tonic. Like chrysanthemums, there are no side effects, nor drug interactions, to worry about when eating fox nut. I don’t think of it as an herb, but more…a seed, as is the case, like pumpkin seed or sunflower seed. In traditional Indian medicine, fox nut is given to mothers after child birth and invalids (see Who’s done the research) to stimulate their immune systems.
How to cook/eat fox nut: Fox nut is often cooked with other seeds, grains, or beans. We usually cook it into our cereal mixture* which includes barley, as it goes well with barley. When cooked, both seem to open up and have a similar chewy texture. In India, people roast fox nut like popcorn and eat it with various spices and oils. I found a catalogue that sold “Fox Nut Puffed (Makhana), organic: toss in dash of ghani-oil for a nutritious and crunchy popcorn substitute that all kids love” – sounds quite yummy, I ought to try it.
* For the record, here is the full list of ingredients for our cereal mix:
black soy bean
Chinese pearl barley
wood ear (black and white fungus)
craisins and dried blueberries
Chinese red dates
Where to find it: Fox nut can be found in your local Asian grocery store. They are dry and powdery, round seeds, usually cut in half and chalky white on the inside, with a brown outer covering. They are usually sold in clear plastic packaging.
What else: Okay, I found out from a Google search that fox nut has also been used to burn fat as part of a weight loss treatment. Generally, fox nut is associated with the kidney and spleen and mixed with an assortment of other items to treat various illnesses.
Who’s done the research:
- Fox nut or gorgon nut (Euryale ferox–Family Nymphaeaceae), popularly known as Makhana, has been widely used in traditional oriental medicine to cure a variety of diseases including kidney problems, chronic diarrhea, excessive leucorrhea and hypofunction of the spleen. Based on the recent studies revealing antioxidant activities of Euryale ferox and its glucosides composition, we sought to determine if Euryale ferox seeds (Makhana) could reduce myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury. In vitro studies revealed that Makhana extracts had potent reactive oxygen species scavenging activities. Taken together, the results of this study demonstrate cardioprotective properties of Makhana and suggest that such cardioprotective properties may be linked with the ability of makhana to induce TRP32 and Trx-1 proteins and to scavenge ROS. – Das S, et al. The effect of Euryale ferox (Makhana), an herb of aquatic origin, on myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury. Mol Cell Biochem 289(1-2):55-63, Sep 2006
- Euryale ferox (Tel makhana(1)), Phoenix dactylifera (Chhohara(1)) and Zingiber officinale (Sonth(1)), however, stimulated humoral immunity to a greater extent than CMI. The observation provides scientific basis for feeding the products of above plants to mothers after child birth and to invalids with a relatively poor immune status. – Puri A, et al. Immunostimulant activity of dry fruits and plant materials used in indian traditional medical system for mothers after child birth and invalids. J Ethnopharmacol 71(1-2):89-92, July 2000
- In indigenous medical systems of medicine, E. ferox as a tonic and for the treatment of leucorrhoea. – Bhakuni, D.S., Dhar, M.L., Dhar, M.M., Dhawan, B.N. and Mehrotra, B.N., 1969. Screening of Indian plants for biological activity: Part II. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 7, pp. 250–262.
- Euryale ferox has been widely used in traditional oriental medicine to treat a variety of illness. However, very little is known about the cellular actions by which this plant mediates its therapeutic effects. Various aspects of antioxidant activity were evaluated in total extracts and fractions derived from Euryale ferox. Our findings show that Euryale ferox contains a significant antioxidant activity and that specific components in the ethyl acetate and butanol fractions may play an important role in mediating these antioxidant properties. – Lee SE, et al, Antioxidant activity of extracts from Euryale ferox seed. Exp Mol Med 31;34(2):100-6, May 2002
- In a search for bioactive constituents of crude drugs derived from aquatic plants, the constituents of Euryale ferox Salisb. (Nymphae-aceae) were investigated. This plant has been widely used in traditional oriental medicine to treat a variety of diseases, such as kidney problems, chronic diarrhea, excessive leucorrhea, and hypofunction of the spleen. Recent studies show that E. ferox could reduce myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury and exhibits immunostimulant activity. The seeds of E. ferox contain an extraordinarily high content of tocopherols, which may play a role in the antioxidative activity of this plant. – Row LC, et al, Cerebrosides and tocopherol trimers from the seeds of Euryale ferox. J Nat Prod 70(7):1214-7, Jul 2007
- Biochemical analysis of Euryale ferox seeds revealed 61% carbohydrate, 15.6% protein, 12.1% moisture, 7.6% fibre, 1.8% ash, and 1.35% fat. The seeds were found to contain 12 amino acids, which are histidine, leucine, isoleucine, glutamic acid, lysine, tyrosine, valine, aspartic, threonine, alanine. methionine. and arginine. – Alfasane, Md. A. et al., Fruit production and biochemical aspects of seeds of Euryale ferox Salisb. under ex-situ conditions. Bangladesh J. Bot. 37(2):179-181, 2008 (December).