The medicinal power of quince

Quince belongs to the rose family and is a sister of the apple, pear and rowan. You can’t really eat this pear raw; it is often used to make jam, compote, fruit juice and jelly. The word marmalade originally even meant ‘quince jam’. The quince originally comes from regions around the Caspian Sea. Nowadays it mainly grows in the Mediterranean region and Japan. The quince has medicinal properties and is mainly used for childhood diarrhea, respiratory diseases, burns and chapped lips. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of quince / Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD)

Contents:

  • Naming
  • Quince in folk medicine
  • Active substances
  • Quince fruit
  • Quince seeds
  • Safety quince

Naming

The Latin name of quince is Cydonia oblonga . In Dutch the quince is also simply called ‘kwee’. The name Cydonia comes from the Greek city ‘Kydonia’, now Chania, a city on the island of Crete. Quince was probably widely grown there in the past. ‘Oblonga’ is Latin for elongated and refers to the fact that the quince is not completely round, like many other fruits.

Quince in folk medicine

The kernels have traditionally been used in the Middle East to treat sore throats and coughs. The kernels are soaked in water, creating a thick, gel-like infusion that is drunk. It is suitable for children and, unlike some regularly used cough syrups, it does not contain alcohol. In Pakistan, quince is used to treat oral mucosal irritations and ulcers. The gel-like infusion of the seeds is used externally for allergies and skin rashes. In Malta, a teaspoon of quince jam is added to a cup of boiling water to remedy intestinal and stomach problems. In Iran and Afghanistan, quince seeds are collected and boiled to drink as a medicine for pneumonia.

Active substances

The fruit and seed of the quince are used. These both have other medicinal applications as you can read later in the article. The fruit contains carbohydrates in the form of fructose and glucose, malic acid, pectin, protopectin, mucilage, tannins, essential oil and leucoanthocyanidins.
The kernels contain mucilages, of which 20% pentosan mucilage and polysaccharides with swelling capacity, amygdalin, the enzyme emulsin, tannins and fatty oil.

Quince fruit

The astringent tannins soften mucous membranes. Pectin is a substance that absorbs other substances. This effect is mainly used to stop bleeding. The juice and syrup are used for the medicinal effect. The medicinal effect is used in phytotherapy for the following indications:

  • Children’s diarrhea,
  • Gastrointestinal stimulation,
  • respiratory diseases,
  • Stunning bleeding wounds.

Quince seeds

Only the mucilage of the quince seeds is used, which is obtained by soaking the seeds in water. The kernels themselves are not eaten. The gel substance formed by soaking kernels in water is suitable for external application. It softens and protects the skin. This quince mucilage solution is sometimes used to prepare a cream or suspension yourself. In the

Quince tree / Source: Dietrich Krieger, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

phytotherapy, quince gel can be used for:

  • Dry skin,
  • flaking skin,
  • chapped lips,
  • gorges,
  • Bedsores,
  • Burns.

Safety quince

  • If you use the kernels to make a gel, you should not crush the kernels because they contain amygdalin. That is hydrocyanic acid, a potentially toxic substance. Furthermore, it is safe to use quince and its seed as long as you do not exceed therapeutic dosages.
  • You can use the fruit by taking a teaspoon of compote several times a day.
  • The kernels can be used by taking the resulting gel several times a day, one tablespoon at a time. The gel is created by maceration: allowing the kernels to swell in warm water for a few hours.