Batu landak: porcupine ball

My father was diagnosed as having

cancer and a relative insisted we try a

very expensive Chinese medicine called

‘porcupine date’. For a toothpick-sized

heap of powder, it will cost over RM1,000!

What exactly is it and does it work?

The porcupine stone or ‘date’ is actually

a bezoar – solid mass formed by tightly

packed collection (or concretion) of partially

digested or undigested material stuck in

the stomach or other parts of the digestive

tract. Bezoars may consist of partially

digested hair (trichobezoars), i bre from

fruits or vegetables (phytobezoars), or even

hardened blocks of drugs e.g. antacids

(pharmacobezoars).

A:

Q:

Your Questions Answered

Porcupine date for

cancer – How “bezoar”?

The word “bezoar” comes from the Persian pâdzahr,

which means, “expelling poison.”

In the region of South and South-east Asia, the

bezoars of animal are usually taken from

either monkeys or porcupines. Among the

Chinese population, the porcupine bezoar is

called hao zhu zao 豪猪枣 (or 箭猪枣) – literally

“porcupine date” – and the Malays term it

as “guliga landak” (sometimes, erroneously

batu landak”).

Porcupine phytobezoar

The porcupine is an herbivore and it is believed

that when the animal is wounded or sick, it will look

for herbs in the forest to heal itself. As the healing

progresses, the phytobezoar stone may form in

its stomach (and when it does, only one bezoar is

formed in each porcupine). Thus, a ‘porcupine date’

is extremely expensive.

The porcupine phytobezoar (lapis histricinus or

lapis Malaccensis) is found in the gall bladder

of mainly the Malayan porcupine or Himalayan

Baca Juga  Batu Landak yang Bernilai Tinggi

porcupine (Hystrix brachyura). Porcupine bezoar

is usually roundish in shape with colour between

pale or purplish, and green and white. It is soft

or brittle, smooth and slippery to the touch.

When steeped in water, the taste is intensely bitter.

A porcupine is a rodent – similar to the capybara

and beaver – with many long, thin, and sharp

spikes (called quills) on its back that stick out

as protection when it is attacked. The quills are

released by contact with them, or shaken of by

the porcupine. (This animal is not to be confused

with the unrelated smaller species of hedgehog

– with similar outward appearance of protective

spines that do not come of , but it will roll into a ball

when in danger).

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Dunny Nasution
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