Peach (Prunus persica)
by Mel Kasting
Peach has been my favorite herb all summer long. I love watching the fruit swell on our neighbor’s trees, flesh shifting from pale yellow to a mottled red-orange as summer progresses. Looking to the doctrine of signatures, the fiery blushing fruit reminds me of my own cheeks after a walk in the afternoon sun. And also what tissue state this remedy works best for...Heat!
My body has been in a state of irritation due to seasonal allergies, moving to humid North Carolina, and the normal anxiety of starting a new school.
Excess sneezing, skin sensitivity and itching (hypersensitive skin that left small weals if scratched as well as itching anywhere I have lots of hair), skin crawling while I tried to sleep, with zero appetite, a nervous stomach, sensitivity to heat and humidity and a generalized feeling of agitation in the mind and body.
It’s profound how well it works to calm the allergic response with accompanying anxiety and lack of hunger, like I swam all afternoon in a cool mountain lake, gotten out relaxed and ready for a big dinner.
Genus and Species: Prunus persica (Amygdalus Persica)
Common names: Peach, Peach tree
Description: This classic rose family tree is native to Persia and central Asia, but is cultivated in temperate climates throughout the world. It is a deciduous and grows anywhere from 13-33 feet tall, depending on growing conditions. Leaves are lanceolate, pinnately veined, and show up after the five petaled pink flowers. Fruits are pale yellow to orange drupes with either whitish or yellow flesh.
Energetics: Cooling, moistening
Properties: Sedative, mildly demulcent, mildly astringent, anti inflammatory, emmenagogue (seed), demulcent laxative (seed)
Taste: sour, bitter, sweet
Parts Used: Leaves, Bark, Twigs and sometimes pits
Tissue States: Heat/Excitation
Key Uses: Allergies and allergic reactions (all kinds), autoimmune over-activity, anxiety and restlessness, especially around food, nausea and morning sickness, insomnia, bug bites, food sensitivities.
Clinical Uses: Where there is heat and irritation, peach will be your ally. The fruit, hanging low in the middle of the summer.
It is great for morning sickness or even hyperemesis when ginger makes it worse due to excess heat in the stomach. Small sips of the cold infusion taken slowly will halt vomiting and dry heaving. This works well with any heat-nausea, even the vomiting and dry heaves that happen after a night of drinking (I gave this to a sick wedding-goer last week and it worked very well, even as a tincture). Chronic gastritis with abdominal tenderness (Michael Moore).
It is also a safe and reliable remedy for nausea and anxiety in children. Try a weak tea for cranky kiddos who spent too much time outside on a hot day and watch the transformation!
jim mcdonald recommends it for “overly gung ho immune response with lots of inflammation.” This covers its usefulness in a gambit of inflammatory conditions and it seems to have an affinity for the skin and digestive system. It is a useful remedy in the flair up stages of overactive autoimmune diseases (think Lupus, psoriasis, eczema). It is also useful when people have heightened response to food sensitivities. Think of those people who seem to be reacting to almost every food, especially when there is also skin involvement.
Culpepper says that the seed oil will regrow hair but I have yet to find evidence of this particular usage.
Kiva Rose has had much success using the leaf and twig tincture to calm allergic responses to venomous insects bites internally and externally, especially with bees. The fresh leaves have been used as a poultice for boils.
Peach is relatively new addition to my materia medica, but I would not hesitate to try it clinically with any type of histamine reaction, anxiety with nervous stomach, and sensitivity to heat. It seems to quickly calm allergic skin reactions, so I would also use it with hives (Matthew Wood also suggests this). I think peach is also going to be my go to herb when I need to cool a formula down a bit. It seems like it would say, “Herbs, meet each other.” Synergy?
Constituents: Amygdalin a cyanogenic glycoside attributed to part of the plant’s anti inflammatory and bitter actions. Acetaldehyde is a constituent in the whole plant that acts as a tyrosinase-Inhibitor (a copper-containing enzyme that catalyzes the formation of quinones from phenols and polyphenols). It also contains phenolic acids, phytosterols, triterpenes, tannins, hydrocarbons.
Dosage and Method of Delivery:
½-1ml every 20 minutes for acute allergic reaction (stings, bites, food, "histamine storm" type sneezing fits) until symptoms subside.
½ ml to 1 ml three times a day standard leaf/twig tincture
Fresh leaf poultice for bites, boils and stings
4 ounces standard infusion three times a day
Cautions and Contraindications: Peach leaf, twig, and pits in high doses will slow energy production in cells (krebs cycle) and should be used with caution in persons with mitochondrial disorders like chronic fatigue. All three are also toxic in very large doses due to cyanide glycosides. Phyllis Light writes that the wilted leaves contain the most potent concentration of these compounds and therefore the plant should be tinctured fresh or freshly dried.
Skenderi, Gazmend. 2003. Herbal Vade Mecum. Rutherford, NJ. Herbacy Press.
Wood, Matthew. 2008. The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal
Plants. Berkley, CA. North Atlantic Books.
Bone, Kerry & Mills, Simon. 2013. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Second Edition. Churchill, Livingston, Elsevier Ltd.
Class on Traditional Western Energetics with Thomas Easley, Matthew Wood and Jim McDonald
Culpeper’s Complete Herbal