Durian (Durio zibethinus)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 2,6-Dimethoxy-p-benzoquinone, 3-beta-O-trans-caffeoyl-2alpha-hydroxyolean-12-en-28-oic acid, 3-beta-O-trans-caffeoyl-2alpha-hydroxytaraxest-12-en-28-oic acid, ambetan, arjunolic acid, berserah mek (Malay), beta-carotene, boehmenan, Bombacaceae (family), Boschia grandiflora mast, caffeoylcylicodiscate, calcium oxalate, chaarian, chanee, chani, civet fruit, civet-cat fruit tree, common durian, cyclopropene fatty acids, D24, D99, D123, D145, D158, D159, D169, dihydrosterculic acid, doerian, du ri an, dulian, duren, durian hijau, durian kulu, durian maleh, durian sukang, Durianbaum (German), durião (Portuguese), durio, Durio acuminatissima, Durio dulcis Becc., Durio foetida Thunb., Durio grandiflorus (Mast.) Kosterm. & Soegeng, Durio graveolens Becc., Durio kutejensis (Hassk.) Becc., Durio lowianus King, Durio malaccensis Planch., Durio maragang, Durio merah, Durio oblongus, Durio oxleyanus Griff., Durio pinangianus, Durio testudinarium, Durio wyatt-smithii Kosterm., Durio wyattsmithii Kosterm., Durio zibethinus spp., durión (Spanish), du-yin, eucryphin, fatty acids, formic acid, fraxidin, gibbon, golden pillow, hydroxymellein, hydroxy-tryptamines, indole, kan yao, kadu, keratogan, kob, kradum, kradum thong, kura-kura, kutejensis hassk., lahai, Lahia kutejensis Hassk., lahong, lai, liu lian (Dutch), malvatic acid, maslinic acid, methyl protocatechuate, methyllasiodiplodin, minerals, mon thong, mon thong durian cultivar, munjit, mustard oils, phytate, polyphenols, pung manee, quercetin, red durian, saponins, sterculic acid, Stinkfrucht (German), stinkvrucht (Dutch), tabelak, tannins, tempoyak (fermented durian flesh), thourièn, threo-carolignan E, thu-réén, thu-rian, thurian, triterpenoids, tuan mek hijau, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin C, vitamin E, Zibetbaum (German).

Background

  • Durian refers to the fruit of the trees of the genus Durio. There are at least 30 recognized Durio species and at least nine edible species. Durio zibethinus is the most common of the Durio species. Durio species are native to wet equatorial forests in Southeast Asia.

  • According to traditional use, durian may have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and vasoconstrictor properties. According to laboratory analysis, durian has antioxidant activity and may reduce cholesterol levels in animals.

  • Traditionally, durian leaves and roots are in Malaysia used to treat fever. The juice of fresh leaves is used as an ingredient in a lotion for fevers, and the juice from the bark is used as an antimalarial in Sumatra. The Javanese also believe that durian has aphrodisiac properties. In addition, durian leaves are considered anthelmintic and are used for jaundice treatment. Decoctions of the leaves and fruits are used to treat swelling and skin conditions.

  • Durian is commonly known as the “king of the fruits,” a label that may be attributed to its formidable appearance and strong odor. Durian fruit is used to flavor a wide variety of sweet edibles, such as traditional Malay candy, “ice kachang,” rose biscuits, cakes, and ice creams. There are also a variety of dishes served with durian, such as pulut durian (rice steamed with coconut milk and served with ripe durian) and tempoyak (fermented durian that may be eaten either raw or cooked with rice or used for making curry). Durian seeds may be eaten when they are boiled, roasted, or fried in coconut oil. Eating raw durian seeds is not advised, due to possible toxicity.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Anthelmintic (acts against parasitic worms), antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, aphrodisiac (increases sexual desire), constipation, diabetes mellitus, fever, high cholesterol, jaundice, malaria, menstruation problems, skin diseases, sores, swelling, wound healing.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For fever, the roots of Durio species have traditionally been boiled with those of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Nephelium longan, Nephelium mutabile, and Artocarpus integrifolia to make a decoction to be taken by mouth or a poultice to be spread on the skin. For fever, the juice of fresh leaves has been used as an ingredient in a lotion for fevers. The roots are ground up and rubbed on the body or used as a decoction. The leaves of Durio species, Curculigo latifolia, Gleichenia linearis, and Nephelium lappaceum have traditionally been squeezed by hand, and then water is poured over them. This water is used to bathe a patient’s head for three days. Doses are not specified.

  • For jaundice, durian leaves boiled in water for use in bathing have been applied to the skin (dose not specified).

  • For malaria, the roots of Durio species have traditionally been boiled with those of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Nephelium longan, Nephelium mutabile, and Artocarpus integrifolia to make a decoction to be taken by mouth (dose not specified).

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for durian in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to Durio zibethinus and other Durio species, their constituents, and members of the Bombacaceae family. Hives, nasal congestion, runny nose, throat discomfort with hoarseness, diarrhea, and vomiting have been reported in one patient after consuming durian.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Durian use is based on traditional use and anecdotal evidence. There is no dosing regimen available for durian use from reliable human trials.

  • Durian is likely safe when used traditionally in flavored candies, cakes, biscuits, shakes, and ice creams. Consumption of durian fruit is generally considered safe in nonallergic and nonhypersensitive individuals.

  • Durian may raise blood pressure or cause allergic reactions in high blood pressure patients. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure.

  • Durian may affect blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or at risk for diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Durian may also cause bad breath, dark tongue with yellow coating, diabetes, dry and cracked lips, excessive sweating, a feeling of fullness, fever, gas, indigestion, irritation of the mouth, an increase in insulin levels, loose teeth, premature white hair, or uneasiness.

  • Use cautiously in patients with respiratory disorders, as durian seeds may contain a poisonous substance that causes shortness of breath.

  • Avoid consuming durian with alcohol, as this has resulted in one report of death.

  • Avoid consuming uncooked seeds, as they may be toxic and carcinogenic.

  • Avoid in pregnant or breastfeeding women, as durian may induce abortion. Traditionally, pregnant women have been advised not to consume durian.

  • Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to Durio zibethinus and other Durio species, their constituents, and members of the Bombacaceae family. Hives, nasal congestion, runny nose, throat discomfort with hoarseness, diarrhea, and vomiting have been reported in one patient after consuming durian.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Durian is not suggested in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

  • Durian may induce abortion and promote menstruation. Traditionally, pregnant women have been advised not to consume durian. Ashes of the durian pericarp are traditionally taken after childbirth.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Durian may affect blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also affect blood sugar. Patients using insulin or diabetes drugs by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Durian may increase blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that affect blood pressure.

  • Durian may also interact with alcohol, antibiotics, or lipid-lowering agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Durian may affect blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Durian may increase blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that affect blood pressure.

  • Durian may also interact with antibacterials, lipid-lowering agents, antioxidants, or betel leaves.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Berry, S. K. Cycloproprene fatty acid in some Malaysian edible seeds and nuts. I Durian (Durio zibethinus, Murr.). Lipids. 1981;15:452.
  2. Charoenvai S, Khedari J, Hirunlabh J. Heat and Moisture Transport in Durian Fiber Based Lightweight Construction Materials. Solar Energy 2005;8(4):543-554.
  3. Haruenkit R, Poovarodom S, Leontowicz H, et al. Comparative study of health properties and nutritional value of durian, mangosteen, and snake fruit: experiments in vitro and in vivo. J Agric Food Chem 2007;55(14):5842-5849. View Abstract
  4. Khedari, J., Charoenvai, S., and Hirunlabh, J. New Insulating Particleboards from Durian Peel and Coconut Coir. Building and Environment 2003;435-441.
  5. Khedari, J., Nankongnab, N., Hirunlabh, J., and Teekasap, S. New Low-Cost Insulation Particleboards from Mixture of Durian Peel and Coconut Coir. Building and Environment 2004;39(1):59-65.
  6. Leisner JJ, Vancanneyt M, Rusul G, et al. Identification of lactic acid bacteria constituting the predominating microflora in an acid-fermented condiment (tempoyak) popular in Malaysia. Int J Food Microbiol 2001;63(1-2):149-157. View Abstract
  7. Leisner JJ, Vancanneyt M, Van der Meulen R, et al. Leuconostoc durionis sp. nov., a heterofermenter with no detectable gas production from glucose. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2005;55(Pt 3):1267-1270. View Abstract
  8. Leontowicz H, Leontowicz M, Haruenkit R, et al. Durian (Durio zibethinus Murr.) cultivars as nutritional supplementation to rat’s diets. Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46(2):581-589. View Abstract
  9. Leontowicz M, Leontowicz H, Jastrzebski Z, et al. The nutritional and metabolic indices in rats fed cholesterol-containing diets supplemented with durian at different stages of ripening. Biofactors 2007;29(2-3):123-136. View Abstract
  10. Leverett, J. C., Amitabh, C., and Jatinder, R. Extracts of durian fruit for use in skin care compositions. 2007; (patent 120070116789).
  11. Mohd Adnan AF, Tan IK. Isolation of lactic acid bacteria from Malaysian foods and assessment of the isolates for industrial potential. Bioresour Technol 2007;98(7):1380-1385. View Abstract
  12. Olivieri J, Quiliquini-Chambard AM, Hauser C. Allergy to durian. Allergy 2002;57(3):263. View Abstract
  13. Roongpisuthipong C, Banphotkasem S, Komindr S, et al. Postprandial glucose and insulin responses to various tropical fruits of equivalent carbohydrate content in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 1991;14(2):123-131. View Abstract
  14. Rudiyansyah and Garson MJ. Secondary metabolites from the wood bark of Durio zibethinus and Durio kutejensis. J Nat Prod 2006;69(8):1218-1221. View Abstract
  15. Toledo F, Arancibia-Avila P, Park YS, et al. Screening of the antioxidant and nutritional properties, phenolic contents and proteins of five durian cultivars. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2008;59(5):415-27. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.