Pine Nut (Pinoli, Song Zi Ren, or Semen Pini Koraiensis)

What Is Pine Nut

Pine Nut is also called Piñón, Pinoli, Song Zi Ren, or Semen Pini Koraiensis and is the mature seed of Pinus koraiensis, which is an evergreen tree belonging to the family Pinaceae. It is a common leisure snack, which initially appeared in <Kaibao Bencao> (Materia Medica of the Kaibao Period) around 974 AD.

Pinus koraiensis is commonly known as the Korean pine. It often grows in humid forests at an altitude of 150-1,800 meters and has been artificially introduced and cultivated. It is distributed in Korea, northeastern China, Mongolia, the temperate rainforests of the Russian Far East, and central Japan.

This plant has high economic value and can be used in construction, bridges, sleepers, furniture, board, and wood fiber industries. Its bark can be made into tannin extracts. Its seeds can be made into soap, paint, and lubricant. Turpentine oil can be extracted from its wood and roots.

Pinus koraiensis

In the autumn of each year, people gather the mature fruits of Pinus koraiensis, dry them in the sun, remove their hard shells and impurities, take out the seeds, stir-fry the seeds, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Pine Nut contains oleic acid, linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, carbohydrates, palmatine, carotene, vitamin B, vitamin E, volatile oil, and a variety of trace elements.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal nature of Pine Nut is relatively warm, with a sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver, lung, and large intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Pine Nut is often used to moisten intestines and relieve constipation, moisten the lung and relieve cough, treat rheumatoid arthritis, vomit blood, senile constipation, dry skin, senile chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, rheumatic arthritis, neurasthenia, and dizziness. It is an important component of Wu Ren Wan.


  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging free radicals, and delaying aging.
  • Reducing pigmentation and treating acne.
  • Supplementing calcium and preventing growth retardation in children.
  • Moistening intestines, relieving constipation and dry stool caused by intestinal dryness.
  • Moistening the lung and relieving the cough caused by lung dryness.
  • It contains magnesium, which improves insulin’s ability to take up glucose.
  • Studies have found that linolenic acid and omega-3 fatty acids can prevent atherosclerosis.
  • Its crude extract has a better dissolving effect on cholesterol and mixed gallstones with high cholesterol content, but it cannot dissolve gallstones composed of bile pigment.


  • It can be used in combination with Huo Ma Ren (Hemp Seeds), Bai Zi Ren (Semen Platycladi), etc. to alleviate senile constipation.
  • It can be used in combination with He Tao Ren (Juglandis Semen), honey, etc. to relieve the cough caused by lung dryness.
  • It can be used in combination with Jin Ying Zi (Fructus Rosae Laevigatae), Gou Qi Zi (Fructus Lycii), Mai Dong (Radix Ophiopogonis), etc. to treat hot flashes, night sweats, spermatorrhea, and frequent diarrhea.
  • It can be used in combination with Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis), Gui Zhi (cassia twig), Qiang Huo (Rhizoma et Radix Notopterygii), etc. to alleviate rheumatic arthritis.
  • It can be used in combination with Yu Li Ren (Semen Pruni), Bai Zi Ren (Semen Platycladi), Tao Ren (Semen Persicae), Huo Ma Ren (Hemp Seeds), Rou Cong Rong (Cistanche), Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei), Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel), etc. to treat constipation, abdominal distension, and dyspepsia caused by dryness-heat in intestines.

Side Effects

  • Pine Nut is edible with almost no side effects.
  • A small number of people taking it may cause chest tightness, vomiting, skin rash, and other allergic reactions.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Pine Nut should be controlled at 5-10g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, or ointments.
  • People who are allergic to pine nuts should not take it.
  • Patients with severe biliary dysfunction should not take it.
  • Patients with spleen deficiency should not take it.
  • Patients with loose stools, diarrhea, and spermatorrhea should not take it.
  • Patients who have a lot of sputum and a cough should not take it.