English: Mother of pearl

Chinese: 珍珠母

Parts used: The shell

TCM category: Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): SaltySweet

Organ affinity: Heart Liver

Scientific name: Hyriopsis cumingii, Cristaria plicata or Pteria martensii

Other names: Pteria

Use of Zhen Zhu Mu (mother of pearl) 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: Collect the shells, remove impurities and crush.

Dosage: 0.3-0.9g

Main actions according to TCM*: Subdues Liver Yang. Clears Liver Heat and brightens the eyes.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Zhen Zhu Mu may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Tremors Palpitations Headache Dizziness Vertigo Tinnitus Restlessness Anxiety Insomnia Skin blemishes Blurred vision

Contraindications*: Contraindicated for patients with cold pattern.

Common TCM formulas in which Zhen Zhu Mu is used*

Zhen Zhu Mu Wan

Source date: 1132 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin and Blood . Sedates the Heart and calms the Mind . Calms the Liver. Anchors the yang.

Conditions targeted*: EpilepsyCataract and others

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

In Zhen Zhu Mu Wan, Zhen Zhu Mu is salty, cooling and heavy in nature. It calms the Liver and the Mind, and anchor the overactive Yang

Read more about Zhen Zhu Mu Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Zhen Zhu Mu's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Zhen Zhu Mu belongs to the 'Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit' category. These herbs are substances that tranquilize the Mind and treat symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, anxiety or insomnia. They tend to have sedative properties by weighing the Qi downwards and should generally be used for a limited time only.

Furthermore Zhen Zhu Mu is Cold in nature. This means that Zhen Zhu Mu typically helps 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 Zhen Zhu Mu can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Zhen Zhu Mu also tastes Salty and 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. Salty ingredients like Zhen Zhu Mu tends to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps. On the other hand Sweet ingredients 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 Zhen Zhu Mu is thought to target the Heart and the Liver. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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.