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Mallow seeds

Chinese: 冬葵子

Pinyin: Dōng Kuí Zi

Parts used: The fruits/seeds

TCM category: Herbs that drain Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Bladder Large intestine Small intestine

Scientific name: Malva verticillata or Malva crispa

Other names: Dong Kui Guo, Mallow

Use of mallow seeds (Dong Kui Zi) 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: Harvest when the seeds are mature, remove impurities and skins, wash and dry. Mash it when used.

Dosage: 6 - 15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Encourages urination. Promotes lactation. Moistening and soothing to the urinary tract and Intestines.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which mallow seeds may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Urinary difficulties Urinary stones Low milk supply Breast abcesses Swollen painful breasts Urinary tract infection Painful urination

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with diarrhea due to Spleen Deficiency nor by pregnant women.

Common TCM formulas in which mallow seeds (Dong Kui Zi) are used*

Shi Wei San

Source date: 1687 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears heat. Promotes the resolution of Dampness. Unblocks painful urinary dribbling. Expels stones.

Conditions targeted*: UrethritisCystitis and others

Read more about Shi Wei San

Key TCM concepts behind mallow seeds (Dong Kui Zi)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), mallow seeds 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 Dampness that has accumulated in the body. According to TCM Dampness 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 mallow seeds are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that mallow seeds 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 mallow seeds can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Mallow seeds also taste Sweet. 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. Sweet ingredients like mallow seeds tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such mallow seeds are thought to target the Bladder, the Large intestine and the Small intestine. In TCM the impure water collected by the Kidneys that cannot be used by the body is sent to the Bladder for storage and excretion as urine. The Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. 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.