English: Chinese plums

Chinese: 乌梅

Parts used: Dried ripe fruit

TCM category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

TCM nature: Neutral

TCM taste(s): Sour

Organ affinity: Large intestine Liver Lung Spleen

Scientific name: Prunus mume

Other names: Japanese apricot, Black plum, Ume plum

Use of Wu Mei (chinese plums) 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: The fruit is harvested when it is nearly mature and it becomes dark after being dried at low temperatures.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Stabilizes Lung Qi and stops cough. Stops diarrhea. Retains Bodily Fluids and encourages their production. Expels parasites and relieves vomiting.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Wu Mei may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Whooping cough Dysentery Diarrhea Intestinal parasites Abnormal uterine bleeding

Contraindications*: Should not be used by those with Excess and Stagnation with Internal Heat nor when there is an External pathogenic influence present.

Common TCM formulas in which Wu Mei is used*

Wu Mei Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the Organs. Drains Heat. Calms roundworms. Drains the Liver. Calms the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: AscariasisBiliary ascariasis and others

Wu Mei is a king ingredient in Wu Mei Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Wu Mei Wan, Wu Mei is a very sour substance that is quite effective in calming roundworms. It also guides the entire formula into the Terminal Yin.

Read more about Wu Mei Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Wu Mei's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Wu Mei belongs to the 'Herbs that stabilize and bind' category. This category of herbs is used for treating abnormal discharges and displacement of Organs. This includes conditions such as diarrhea, discharges from the vagina, penis or rectum as well as prolapse of the Uterus or rectum. It is important to note that herbs in this category only treat symptoms, so one should also use herbs to treat the underlying Deficiency.

Furthermore Wu Mei is Neutral in nature. This means that Wu Mei typically doesn't affect the balance in your body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Eating too many "Hot" (Yang) ingredients can lead to an imbalance whereby one has a Yang Excess. The inverse is true as well: too many "Cold" (Yin) ingredients can lead to a Yin Excess. The Neutral nature of Wu Mei means that you don't have to worry about that!

Wu Mei also tastes Sour. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Sour ingredients like Wu Mei helps with digestion and restrain abnormal discharges of Fluids from the body, such as diarrhea or heavy sweating.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Wu Mei is thought to target the Large intestine, the Liver, the Lung and the Spleen. In TCM the Large Intestine receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body. The Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body.

Research on Wu Mei

Prunus mume extract may inhibit Helicobacter pylori, associated with gastritis and gastric ulcers.1.

Prunus mume extract is a potential candidate for developing an oral antimicrobial agent to control or prevent dental diseases associated with several oral pathogenic bacteria.2.

Sources:

1. Miyazawa, M; Utsunomiya, H; Inada, K; Yamada, T; Okuno, Y; Tanaka, H; Tatematsu, M (January 2006). "Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori motility by (+)-Syringaresinol from unripe Japanese apricot". Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 29 (1): 172–3. doi:10.1248/bpb.29.172

2. Seneviratne, CJ; Wong, RW; Hägg, U; Chen, Y; Herath, TD; Samaranayake, PL; Kao, R (July 2011). "Prunus mume extract exhibits antimicrobial activity against pathogenic oral bacteria". International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry. 21 (4): 299–305. doi:10.1111/j.1365-263X.2011.01123.x

Use of Wu Mei as food

Wu Mei is also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Umeboshi or Maesil-cheong.