Akebia stems

Chinese: 木通

Pinyin: Mù Tōng

Parts used: Dried stem

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSmall intestine

Scientific name: Akebia quinata or Akebia trifoliata

Other names: Chocolate vine

Use of akebia stems (Mu Tong) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, soak in water, remove after soaking, slice and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Encourages urination and clears Heat. Clears Heat and inflammation of the Heart. Promotes lactation. Moves and smoothes the flow of Blood. Used for painful obstruction associated with either Dampness, Blood Stagnation, Wind or Heat.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which akebia stems may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Urinary difficulties Urinary tract infection Edema Irritability Scanty urination Mouth ulcers Low milk supply Amenorrhea Joint pain Strangury

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used during pregnancy and should be used with caution with patients who have Yin Deficiency.

Key TCM concepts behind akebia stems (Mu Tong)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), akebia stems are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that drain Dampness' category. These herbs are typically diuretics, meaning that they promotes the increased production of urine in order to remove Damp that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Damp accumulates first in the lower limbs, causing edema and impaired movement. From there, if unchecked, it can move upward and impair digestion and eventually the respiratory system.

Furthermore akebia stems are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that akebia stems typically help people who have too much "heat" in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much heat in their body are said to either have a Yang excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition akebia stems can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Akebia stems also taste Bitter. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like akebia stems tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing heat, drying dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such akebia stems are thought to target the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine. In addition to regulating blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the "spirit" which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body. Like the Stomach, the Small Intestine has a digestive role, extracting the "pure" part of what we injest to the Spleen and the "impure" down to the Large Intestine.