Makhana (Fox Nut) Benefits & Medicinal Uses
The health benefits of Makhana (Fox Nuts) are attributed to its antioxidant, aphrodisiac, spermatogenic, and antihyperglycemic properties. It improves physical strength, increases stamina, and helps to manage diabetes and other diseases. In Ayurvedic Medicine, it is considered as a procreative agent, which means it also helps with begetting child. Generally, it increases sperm count and improves quality of spermatozoa. So, it also helps to treat oligospermia and impaired spermatogenesis. In addition, it is also beneficial for women suffering from heavy bleeding, leucorrhea, and infertility.
What is Makhana?
Makhanas are roasted and popped seeds of Euryale Ferox Salisb. Euryale Ferox belongs to Nymphaeaceae (water lilies) family. These seeds are processed in traditional ways, roasted and sold popped Makhana. These nuts are also called Phool Makhana, Fox Nuts, and Gorgon Nuts. In Chinese Medicine, it is called Qian Shi. Euryale Ferox plant grows in waterbodies. In Some places of Bihar State in India, it is cultivated commercially by local folks.
Makhana Vs. Lotus Seeds
It is often confused with Lotus Seeds. However, both seeds resemble, but they are entirely different from each other. Lotus seeds are obtained from Nelumbo Nucifera (Sacred Lotus and Indian Lotus). Whereas Makhanas or fox nuts are obtained from Euryale Ferox plants.
Makhana (fox nuts) contains:
- 2β-hydroxybetulinic acid 3β-caprylate (1)
- Glucosyl sterols (2)
- Cerebrosides – ferocerebrosides A & B (3)
The following compounds are detected in the ethanol extract of its seeds: (4)
- 5 ,7-dihydroxychromone
- Gallic acid
- Gallic acid ethyl ester
- Protocatechuic acid
Two tocopherol polymers were found: (5)
- Ferotocodimer A
- Ferotocotrimer E
16 nucleosides and nucleobases were found in Euryale Ferox including cytidine, guanosine, and 2-deoxyguanosine. (6)
Three phenolic compounds were found that include: (7)
- Buddlenol E
|RASA (Taste)||MADHURA (Sweet)|
|GUNA (Main Quality)||GURU (Heavy), SNIGADH or SNEHA (Unctuous or Oily)|
|VIRYA (Potency)||SHEETA (Cool)|
|VIPAKA (Resultant)||MADHURA (Sweet)|
|DOSHA KARMA (Effect on Humors)||Pacifies Vata Dosha and Pitta Dosha|
|Dhatu (Tissue) Effect||RASA, MAMSA, SHUKRA|
|Organ Effect||Heart, Testes, Uterus, and Ovaries|
According to ayurvedic science, fox nut pacifies Vata and Pitta Dosha. However, it can increase Kapha Dosha. It gives strength to the body and reduces chronic fatigue. It provides nourishment to the heart, testes, uterus, and ovaries. Furthermore, it also reduces burning sensation that occurs in any disease due to its Pitta reducing properties.
The medicinal uses of Makhana are attributed to the following medicinal properties:
- Procreative agent (helps in reproduction)
It is therapeutically indicated in the following health conditions:
- Impaired spermatogenesis
- Defective quality of spermatozoa
- Premature ejaculation
- Uterine weakness
- Leukorrhea (in condition, when the discharge is coming with burning sensation, and discharge is thin, but yellowish green in colur)
- Postpartum debility
- Heart diseases in which cardiac muscles become weak to pump the blood (along with Arjuna Siddha Ksheer Pak)
- Physical weakness
- Weakness in muscles of the uterus
In above conditions, it is used by ayurvedic practitioners. In addition, it can also be used in the conditions listed below:
- Diabetes (generally best for weak, thin, underweight patients)
- Melanogenesis (external application in form of a cream)
- Weight Gain
As a tonic, it helps to enhance vitality, boost energy, delays aging, increase lifespan and provides beautiful skin. In Traditional Medicine, some practitioners also use it for kidney disease, leukorrhea, chronic diarrhea and spleen hypofunction.
In Chinese Traditional Medicine, fox nuts are also indicated in the following diseases:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Nocturnal emission
- Stranguria with increased urine turbidity
- Urinary incontinence
- Underweight individuals
Flowers of Makhana Plant help to reduce burning sensation, bleeding, palpitation and tachycardia.
Makhana Benefits & Uses
Makhana benefits to improve cardiac strength, increase sperm count, treat premature ejaculation. The flower juice of this plant is helpful in palpitation and restlessness.
According to Bhavprakash Nighantu, it is easy to digest, and it can be included in regular diet. When it is taken along with milk, it improves sperm count, increases fertility in both men and women and reduces debility.
Let’s start a discussion on the important health benefits of Makhana:
The several studies suggest that Makhana has potent antioxidant action. It increases the activities of catalase, glutathione, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. These are antioxidants that help to reduce the effects of reactive oxidative species. It also has lipid peroxidation inhibitory potential and scavenge free radicals. (8, 9, 10)
Therefore, It counteracts the damaging effects of free radicals. It provides sufficient antioxidant action that helps to neutralize the oxygen species in the body.
- So, it will also protect your skin. The antioxidant effects help to prevent diseases.
- It also supports the immune system by neutralizing free radicals.
Makhana has antidiabetic and antihyperglycemic properties. It reduces blood glucose level and stimulates insulin secretion from Pancreatic beta cells. The antidiabetic action might be due to its antioxidant activities. It ameliorates the glycemic control. (11, 12)
Euryale Ferox plant shell’s triterpenoid-rich extract also exerts antidiabetic action by regulating glucose metabolism. It helps to reduce insulin resistance and improves the glycemic control. (13)
Pedicels and petioles of fox nut (Euryale Ferox) Plant show hypoglycemic and antioxidant action. (14)
In the conclusion, it is the best snack for a diabetic patient. Moreover, its regular use also provides strength to the body in a diabetic patient, which helps to feel more energetic and active than before.
The benefits of Makhana include the prevention of diabetic complication. Due to its strong antioxidant activities, it prevents diabetic nephropathy. There are several compounds in these seeds that inhibit the activities of free radicals stimulated by high glucose level. (15)
Effects on Cardiovascular System
It has antihyperlipidemic property. It helps to improve lipid profile and normalize their plasma levels. (16)
Its antioxidant action also provides cardioprotective properties. It prevents heart diseases and strengthens cardiac muscles. Makhana as nuts is healthy snacks for patients with heart diseases.
In Ayurveda, flowers of Euryale Ferox Salisb Plant are commonly used for palpitation. Its hot infusion is highly beneficial for regulating and normalizing heartbeat. In addition, its infusion also relieves restlessness.
Myocardial Ischemic Reperfusion Injury
The animal study suggested that Makhana could lower the risk of myocardial ischemic reperfusion injury. It further reduced the size of myocardial infarct and boosted the post-ischemic ventricular function. It had also increased the level of thioredoxin (cardioprotective proteins). The action might be attributed to its antioxidant activities. (17)
The study showed that it exerted hepatoprotective action. It improved the pancreas and liver architecture. These effects are attributed to 2β-hydroxybetulinic acid 3β-caprylate compound found in seeds of Euryale Ferox. (18, 19)
Makhana reported having antioxidant and antifatigue characteristics. These characteristics help to reduce fatigue. (20)
It is an excellent home remedy for fatigue. Its effects on fatigue are attributed to its adaptogen property. It helps the body to cope with stress and improves vitality. It boosts stamina and increases energy level.
The preliminary study suggested that Makhana seed’s ethyl acetate extract had inhibitory activity against melanogenesis related proteins including tyrosinase that aided inhibition of melanogenesis (melanin synthesis). (21)
However, it is an initial study and further studies are required to evaluate the effects of its extract in skin care products especially that used for skin whitening.
Weight Loss or Weight Gain
The nutritional stats indicate it may help to lose weight due to high fiber content and low calories. It might support weight loss program when it is taken in a limited amount. One can use it as snacks for reducing craving that occurs when one restricts diet and tries to lose weight.
The excess intake of Makhana can cause the opposite effects. It increases strength, muscle mass, and might fat too. In Ayurveda, it is commonly used for gaining weight, but adjuvant used for this purpose is always milk. It is used in form of powder in a dosage of 5 grams or 1 full teaspoon two times a day.
So, if you don’t want to increase your weight, don’t take it with milk and avoid its regular intake.
In Ayurveda, it has long been recommended for men. It increases sperm count and thereby enhances men’s fertility. It also improves sperm motility and increases semen volume.
Spermatorrhea & Nocturnal emission
It also an excellent remedy for spermatorrhea (involuntary ejaculation) and nocturnal emission (nightfall in men). Along with Jivanti (Leptadenia Reticulata), Yashtimadhu and Amla, it helps to control involuntary ejaculation and prevents nightfall.
The same combination of herbs as described in spermatorrhea helps in premature ejaculation.
Makhana supports the health of the uterus. It acts as uterine tonic and tones the uterine musculature. It is the best snacks for women suffering from heavy clots in periods, excessive bleeding, burning pain during menstruation, uterine weakness, and recurrent miscarriages, leucorrhea etc. In leucorrhea, it is well suitable discharge is coming with burning sensation, and discharge is thin, but yellowish green in color.
In all types of hemorrhage or bleeding disorders, it is the useful home remedy. According to ayurveda, it has cooling property and acts as astringent and antihemorrhagic agent. So, it helps to stop bleeding and restoring the strength of people suffering from bleeding disorders.
However, fox nuts are also effective to check bleeding, but its plant flowers are more effective in major bleeding disorders.
Roasted Makhana is commonly used for its antidiarrheal property to treat chronic diarrhea. It is a common home remedy for chronic diarrhea in folk medicine. According to ayurveda, it has GRAHI (absorbent/astringent) action, so it absorbs fluid from the gut and reduces the frequency of loose stools.
How to Take Makhana
The normal adult dosage for Makhana is 10 to 20 grams per day. In ayurvedic medicine, its seed powder is advised to take in a dosage of 5 to 10 grams twice daily. Its adult dosage can be increased up to 30 grams per day. In Chinese Medicine, its 30 grams Euryale is the recommended dosage.
|Children (Above 5)||1 to 5 grams|
|Adults||5 to 10 grams|
|Pregnancy||3 to 6 grams|
|Lactation||3 to 6 grams|
|Maximum Possible Dosage||30 grams Per Day (in divided doses)|
How to Take
|How many times should I take?||2 times a day|
|When should I take?||Anytime|
The best suitable Adjuvants for Makhana (Fox Nuts) according to diseases are as follows:
|Health Conditions||Suitable Adjuvant|
|For gaining weight||Cow’s Milk|
|Heart Diseases||Arjuna Ksheer Pak|
Makhana Side Effects & Safety
Makhana is likely safe to consume in the amount less than 30 grams per day.
Side Effects of Makhana
There are no side effects reported with Makhana when consumed less than 30 grams per day. In excess or if taken on regular basis, it causes the following side effects:
- Constipation (rare)
In 1996-97, an increased level of heavy metals including chromium, cadmium, lead, and copper was found in Makhana (seeds of Euryale Ferox Salisb). The increased level of heavy metals in the seeds was correlated with the level of toxic metals in the ponds. (22)
The increased metal pollution in water has increased the risk of bioaccumulation of heavy metals in the plant, which can adversely affect the human health.
Pregnancy & Lactation
In Traditional & Folk Medicine, Makhana is used as a nutritious food. It provides strength to pregnant women. In lactating mother, it helps to increase breastmilk supply.
However, Makhana cultivated in polluted water can increase the risk of bioaccumulation of heavy metals, which can also increase the risk of fetal abnormalities.
According to Chinese Medicine, Makhana (Euryale Ferox Salisb.) should not be used in the following conditions:
- Babies (less than 12 months) and children under 5
- Cold and productive cough
- Postpartum women
- Urinary difficulty