Akebia quinata (mu tong)

Akebia quinata also known as: mu tung (mu tong)

OTHER NAMES: tung tsao (perforated grass)

A climbing vine with a jointed, woody stem that varies in thickness from 1-7 centimeters, the plant is distinguished by small tubular holes in the marrow, large enough for air to be blown through, hence the Chinese name mu tung, "perforated wood." The wood is yellow and arranged in vascular plates. The medicinal part is sold in sliced transverse sections of the ligneous (woody) stem, about 1 centimeter in diameter, and contains 30% potassium salts, which accounts for its diuretic action. The fruit is edible and has a white pulp with black kernels and a pleasant sweet taste.

The plant is native to eastern China and Japan.


Energy: cold
Flavor: bitter
Affinity: heart, lungs, bladder, small intestine

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS: diuretic; antiphlogistic; analgesic; galactagogue; facilitates labor in childbirth

INDICATIONS: pain and oppression in the chest; angina; chronic thirst; abscesses on tongue and mouth; scanty, painful urination; painful swelling in legs and feet; insufficient lactation; restlessness and insomnia; dry sore throat; sinus congestion; laryngitis

DOSAGE: decoction: 4-9 grams, in two doses, on an empty stomach

CONTRAINDICATIONS: chronic profuse sweating


REMARKS: A popular traditional remedy for insufficient lactation in nursing mothers is to simmer 10-15 grams of this herb together with pork knuckles for 3 hours, adding water as needed, then drinking the herbal broth throughout the day.

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