Pharmaceutical name: Margaritiferae Concha usta
Chinese name: Zhen Zhu Mu
English Name: Mother of Pearl
Standard species: Hyriopsis cumingii (Lea); Cristaria plicata (Leach); Pteria martensii (Dunker)
Salty, cold, and heavy in weight, Mother of Pearl is the inner lining of the pearl-producing mollusks shell. Hyriopsis cumingii (Lea) and cristaria plicata (Leach) are, for the majority, produced in lakes, rivers, and marshes in China. Pteria martensii (Dunker) is primarily produced in coastal areas of Hainan, Guangdong, and Guangxi provinces. Mother of Pearl is gathered all throughout the year and fully cleansed, removing all dirt and impurities. For medical purposes, the whole shell is used, pulverized into small pieces or grinding into a fine powder.
Traditionally, Mother of Pearl is popularly used as a calming substance in China. It calms the liver, calms the spirit, subdues yang, clears liver heat, improves vision, and tranquilizes the heart and mind.
Scientific research has showed that Mother of Pearl contains many minerals (calcium, Zinc, magnesium iron etc.) and amino acids. It has properties of anti-aging, anti-oxidant, sedation and skin beauty. Powder and cream from Mother of Pearl are popularly used as skin beauty agent and are said to help remove marks and stains to prevent winkles and sagging associated with aging.
Combined with other herbs, Mother of Pearl are also used in improving the symptoms related to anxiety such as uneasiness, worrisome, sleeplessness, fatigue etc. It is also used for eye problems, such as red eyes, dry eyes and blurred vision, combined with herbs like selfheal spike (Spica Prunellae), butterfly bush flower (Flos Baddlejae), cassia seed (semen Cassiae) and wolfberry fruit (Fructus Lycii). The calcined mother of pearl is beneficial for dryness, therefore it is applied specifically for eczema and certain skin problems.
If you are pregnant and want to use Mother of Pearl internally, consult your primary care doctor. There is not enough data about the safety of Mother of Pearl in children and breast-feeding mothers.
- Chang ZF, Jia DX and Bare J. Chinese Materia Medica edition b 2014, people’s medical publication house, pp499-500.
- Bensky D, Clavey S, and Stöger E. Chinese Herbal medicine, Materia Medica 3rd edition 2004, Eastland Press INC, pp920-921.