There’s a very unusual fruit that looks like a kiwi or a passion fruit but it’s neither. It’s called “luo han guo” or monk fruit. It helps to relieve dry cough, sore throat and reduces phlegm. It also tastes great! It contains something called mogroside, which is 250 times sweeter than table sugar but has no calories.
Why Is It Called Monk Fruit?
According to one legend, a long long time ago, in one of these ancient Yao villages lived a woodcutter named Luo. Luo’s father passed away when he was a little boy, so he grew up with his mother.
One autumn, the mother caught the flu and she could not stop coughing. But the family were so poor they could barely afford to buy food, let alone pay for a doctor. In order to help his mother, Luo had to work harder than ever cutting and selling wood to raise more money.
One day while he was on the mountain cutting wood, he accidentally cut into a hornet’s nest and a huge hornet attacked and stung him. His skin immediately turned red and started to swell and became really painful. Luo quickly ran off the mountain.
As he was running, he smelled something really refreshing and fruity. He looked up and he saw some gourd-looking fruits hanging off a lush green vine. He grabbed a fruit and took a bite and wow, it was sweet, refreshing and hydrating. Then he rubbed the fruit on his skin and he immediately felt a cooling sensation and the pain reduced. Not long after, the redness disappeared and his skin was no longer swollen.
Being a pious son, he picked up some fruits to bring back home to his mother. After the mother tried this fruit, her cough reduced, and a month later, all her symptoms were completely gone. They were so happy. So they picked many of these fruits and dry them and just gave them out freely whenever they saw poor neighbours with asthma or flu.
Around the same time, a travelling doctor, called Han, was visiting the village and heard about this story. He came to his house and tasted the fruit himself. After some research and experimenting, he found that the sweet and cooling fruit can help to clear the lungs, reduce coughing and phlegm and soothe the throat. After that, more and more people found out about the magical properties of this fruit and started using it.
In order to honour the woodcutter Luo and Doctor Han, people combined the names and named this fruit “luo han guo”, meaning “luo han” fruit. The word “luo han” in Chinese means Arhat or an enlightened monk. And that’s how it became monk fruit in English.
Health Benefits of Monk Fruit
Monk fruit is native to southern China. It belongs to the gourd family and grows on vines. In China, it is classified as both food and herbal medicine. Chinese medicine organizes food and herbs into four properties or natures. Cold, Cool, Warm and Hot. Monk fruit is cool in nature. Because Chinese medicine emphasizes balance and harmony, monk fruit is often used when there’s too much heat in your body.
When there’s too much heat in your body, you need something cool—like the monk fruit—to bring your body back into a balanced state. Some common symptoms of excessive heat include dry cough, sore throat, green or yellow phlegm, or you have phlegm stuck in your throat. This means you may have excessive heat in your body, especially in your lungs. Monk fruit can clear the heat out, relieve sore throat and reduce phlegm.
How to Make Monk Fruit Tea
The monk fruit can be eaten fresh. Some people love it, while others find the taste too tingly for their tongues. The fruit spoils quickly and must be eaten immediately after harvest, so most likely you’ll find it dried.
The simplest way to eat monk fruit is to drink it like tea. You just need to wash it, crack it open with your hands, add boiling water and it’s ready to drink. You can also boil a monk fruit with sliced pears, dried lily bulbs and coastal glehnia roots, which you can find in Chinese supermarkets or online. You can add all three ingredients or just whichever ones you have available. These three ingredients are very good for nourishing your lungs.
Who Should Avoid Eating the Monk Fruit?
If you have a runny nose, itchy throat, clear phlegm, diarrhoea, or you feel cold, then you might be catching a cold. In that case, definitely avoid monk fruit as it will cool down your body even more.
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