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Guan Mu Tong

English Name: aristolochia stem, Dutchman’s pipe stem, Manchurian pipevine, birthwort

Pharmaceutical Name: Caulis Aristolochiae Manshuriensis

Medica Category: Water-Regulating and Damp-Resolving Herbs

Properties: Guan Mu Tong enters the Urinary Bladder, Heart, and Small Intestine channels; it is bitter in nature and cold in temperature.

What is Guan Mu Tong?:

The Chinese Herb Guan Mu Tong is the dried stem of the Manchurian pipevine (Aristolochia manshuriensis Kom), a woody, climbing vine native to mixed forests in Korea, eastern Siberia and northeastern China (formerly Manchuria) that blooms in the early summer with flowers that look like a Dutchman’s Pipe. The dried stems were traditionally used as medicine, although as the Chinese herb Guan Mu Tong is considered toxic other, safer substitutes are commonly used (e.g. Chuan Mu Tong—see safety note below).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Guan Mu Tong:

Guan Mu Tong promotes urination and was used historically to clear damp-heat from the Urinary Bladder channel to treat lin zheng (dysuria syndrome) w/heat (i.e. burning sensations and pain on urination).

Guan Mu Tong sedates fire in the Heart and Small Intestines and has been used to treat ulcerations in the mouth and tongue, irritability, and lin zheng with heat.

**safety note—Guan Mu Tong contains aristolochic acid and is considered toxic; thus, it should be used with great care and only under supervision of a trained health care practitioner. Overdose may cause any number of symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and distension, headaches, edema, increased blood pressure etc… (Chen & Chen lists 22 different potential adverse reactions to this herb—p. 396). Its use is contraindicated for: pregnancy, for those with pre-existing kidney conditions, and for those who do not have damp-heat as the root cause of their imbalance. Furthermore, it should be used with care for elderly or weak people (especially in cases of yin/fluid deficiency). It is only for short-term use, and in small doses.

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