As one of valuable Chinese herbs, Tokay gecko or Ge Jie, has been used for medicinal purposes since 1,000 years ago. It looks ugly but comes with pretty high economic and medicinal value. There are tons of anecdotes about this mysterious nocturnal animal – people believes that its urine is a deadly poison but the consumption of gecko works like a charm on helping deliver baby boy only and curing ED (erectile dysfunction) because their mating tends to last as long as a few days. A more interesting thing is that gecko always comes in pairs when used medicinally. People today also keep geckos as pets because they look cute and adorable. So do Tokay geckos bark? Is Tokay gecko poisonous? More information is coming soon.
What is Tokay gecko?
Medicinally it refers to the dry body of Gekko gecko Linnaeus, the largest species in family Gekkonidae. Other common names include Tokay lizard and Ge Cko. It can be wild caught all year round. After the capture, remove the internal organs, wipe clean, unfold and make it flat and straight by bamboo chips, and dry under low temperature condition. Tokay gecko habitats are cave crevices, tree holes, and houses. It mainly feeds on insects and smaller lizards. Just like house lizard, it lost tail for life simply because it felt threatened or grabbed by the tail. Due to long-term capturing, wildlife resources is dwindling. In China, it is mainly distributed in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Fujian and Yunnan. In addition, it is also found in Bengal in west, Indochina in east, Indonesia and Philippines in south, and other places.
Gecko is about 30cm in total length. Tail length is equal or a little bit longer than body length. Head is large, slightly triangular, and with round, convex snout. Earhole is oval, about half of eye diameter. Upper lip scales are 12 to 14, the first one into the nostrils. Eyes are large and prominent. Mouth comes with many small teeth. The whole body is covered with fine grain scales, occasionally mixed with larger scales that augment into a vertical line. Larger ventral scales are slightly hexagonal. There is web between fingers and toes, which are inflated. Male has more than 20 preanal pores and bigger tail base. Back of trunk and limbs are brick gray and densely covered with orange blue gray spots. Tail has dark and pale rings. Belly is white and with pink spots.
Main chemical constituents are carnosine, choline, carnitine, guanine, protein, cholesterol, 14 amino acids, 18 kinds of trace elements, 5 kinds of phospholipid components, and 9 kinds of fatty acids. Amino acids include glycine, proline, glutamic acid, and so on. Main trace elements are calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and more. Phospholipid components are phosphatidylethanolamine, sphingomyelin, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidic acid, and lysolecithin. Fatty acids include linoleic acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitoleic acid, stearic acid, arachidic acid, arachidonic acid, and more.
Tokay gecko health benefits
As mentioned in the beginning, gecko has proven itself with tons of health benefits. As a result it was held in high esteem by Li Shizhen, who said it worked like ginseng. Actually many ancient physicians believed that the combination of gecko and ginseng could greatly enhance its effect as qi tonic. In addition, as a living and emotional herb it has an obvious efficacy on supplying vital essence and marrow. Because of that in it is frequently used by modern TCM practitioners for kidney deficiency-induced impotence, premature ejaculation, frequent urination, nocturnal emission, marked emaciation, and so on. Hence, it enjoys the equal popularity with deer antlers. And now let’s take a look at what the modern pharmacology says about Tokay lizards.
Modern pharmacological actions of Tokay geckos
1. Its water-soluble portion is able to make the male mice’s testes gain weight, which showed the male hormone-like effect. In addition, it can also make the vaginal opening hours ahead in animals, which thus is believed to act like two-way sex hormones.
2. Gecko extract by intraperitoneal injection can significantly enhance the spleen weight in mice. It can antagonize the immunosuppression of prednisolone and cyclophosphamide.
3. Its extract has protective effect on mice subjected to low temperature, high temperature, hypoxia and other stress stimuli, which thus is considered having the adaptogen-like effect.
Proven gecko herbal remedies
In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is consider salty in flavor and neutral in properties. And it covers meridians of lung and kidney. Its main functions include strengthening lung and benefiting kidney, relieving asthma and a cough, and supporting Yang to boost essence. Main tokay gecko uses and indications are asthma and cough due to lung-kidney deficiency, consumptive cough, blood vomiting, Kidney deficiency induced impotence, spermatorrhea, frequent urination, diabetes, and so on. Recommended gecko dosage is from 3 to 6 grams in decoction, powder, and pills.
1. Ge Jie Ding Chuan Wan or Jiao Nang. This formula, from is used as over-the-counter drug for asthma. Other major herbs are Gua Lou Zi (Trichosanthes Seed), Ma Huang (Ephedra), Shi Gao (Gypsum), Huang Lian (Coptis Rhizome), Huang Qin (Baical Skullcap Root), and so on.
2. Gejie Bu Shen Wan. Gejie Bu Shen Wan is mainly formulated for people in poor health, lack of genuine energy, and frequent urination. Other vital herbs include Yin Yang Huo (Arial Parts of Epimedium), Dang Gui (Dong Quai), Huang Qi (Astragalus), Gou Qi Zi (Goji Berry), and more.
3. Ge Jie Da Bu Wan. This prescription is basically designed for frail men and women, light-headedness, loss of appetite, and lumbar and back pain. Other main herbal ingredients are Dang Shen (Codonopsis), Astragalus, Goji Berry, Dong Quai, Fu Ling (Poria), Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia), and more.
4. Ren Shen Ge Jie San. This formula comes from Wei Sheng Bao Jian (Precious Mirror for Defending Life). It is primarily used for asthma due to lung-kidney deficiency. The rest important herbs are Ren Shen (Ginseng), Bei Mu (Fritillaria Bulb), Xing Ren (Apricot Seed), and so on.
Potential Tokay gecko side effects and contraindications
Tokay gecko has low toxicity. Experiments failed to come up with the median lethal dose of gecko alcohol extract, which showed that its maximum tolerance dose by intragastric administration is larger than 135g/kg. Its HLD of fat-soluble portion in ethanol extract is 5.24g/kg. And its HLD of water-soluble portion is similar to that of fat-soluble portion. Besides, its eyes and brain, at the dose of equivalent to 25-200 times, showed no toxicity to animals. On the other hand, TCM thinks that it shouldn’t be used in cases of cough in exterior syndrome and fire excess from yin deficiency.