The lychee is the most renowned of a group of edible fruits of the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is botanically designated Litchi chinensis Sonn. (Nephelium litchi Cambess) and widely known as litchi and regionally as lichi, lichee, laichi, leechee or lychee.
Medicinal uses: Traditional herbal medicine suggests that ingestion of lychee relieves coughing and aids in inflammation of the gastrointestinal organs. Patients report that eating several fresh lychees allows digestion of a large meal without discomfort. According to legends, ancient devotees have consumed from 300 to 1,000 per day, but excessive consumption of raw lychees may cause fever and nosebleed.
In Chinese herbal tradition, lychee seeds are credited with an analgesic action and they are given in neuralgia and orchitis. A tea of the fruit peel is taken to overcome smallpox eruptions and diarrhea. In India, lychee seeds are powdered and administered for gastrointestinal disturbances. Decoctions of the root, bark, and flowers may be gargled to alleviate inflammation (and possibly infection) of the throat.
Lychee roots have shown activity against one type of tumor in experimental animals in the United States Department of Agriculture/National Cancer Institute Cancer Chemotherapy Screening Program.