Semen Pharbitidis Origin:
Morning glory seed is the ripe seed of the annual climbing plant Pharbitis nil (L.) Choisy, or Pharbitis purpurea (L.) Voight, of the Convolvulaceae family. Born in the mountain shrubs and roadsides, it is produced in most areas of China.
The seed in greyish black is known as the black morning glory seed
, while the seed in faint yellow is called the white morning glory seed
, both of which are used equally. The plant is in flower from June to September; in fruit from July to October.
The herb is harvested when the fruit ripens in autumn. The seed is dried in the sun and used when raw or after being parched. Properties:
Bitter in flavor, cold and toxic in nature, it is related to the lung, kidney and large intestine channels. Functions:
Purges the bowels, removes water retention, eliminates stagnated food and destroys parasites. Applications:
1. Treats edema and tympanites:
With its bitter taste, cold nature and lowering and purging properties, the morning glory seed
can induce both diuresis and defecation so as to dispel retained water. Although its hydragogue action is a little slower than that of kansui (Radix Euphorbiae Kansui) and knoxia root
(Radix Knoxiae), it is still a toxic and drastic purgative, which is applicable to the syndromes of excess type due to retention of water without any asthenia of the vital-qi
This herb be used alone by being ground into powder or ground together with aniseed into powder and mixed with ginger juice for oral administration; in rather serious cases, it can be used together with knsui (Radix Euphorbiae Kansui) and knoxia root
(Radix Knoxiae), e.g. Zhou Ju Wan.
2. Treats coughing and dyspnea due to retention of phlegm and edema of the face as a result of the stagnation of lung-qi
This herb can purge the lungs of stagnated qi
and dispel retained phlegm.
Use the herb with pepper
weed or flixweed tansymustard seed (Semen Lepidii seu Descurainiae), apricot kernels, tangerine peel
, etc., e.g. Qianniuzi San.
3. Treats accumulation of heat of the excess type in the stomach and intestines and constipation:
The morning glory seed
can remove retained water, relax the bowels and dispel stagnated food.
A) Accumulation of damp-heat in the stomach and intestines, constipation with abdominal distention or dysentery with tenesmus:
Use it with aucklandia root
, betel nut and immature citron
or trifoliate orange (Fructus Aurantii Immaturus).
Made into pills by being ground together with peach kernel
s and mixed with honey
4. Treats abdominal pain due to ascariasis, taeniasis and enterositosis:
This herb can dispel stagnated food and destroy parasites and also discharge the parasites by the actions of removing retained water and relaxing the bowels.
Ground together with betel nut and Rangoon creeper fruit (Fructus Quisqualis) into powder for infusion with boiled water in order to strengthen the effects of eliminating stagnated food and destroying parasites. Dosage and Administration:
Decoct morning glory seed
in water for drinking or include it in pills or powder for oral administration. Its potency will be reduced if it is parched. Cautions on Use:
Morning glory seed should be avoided by pregnant women.
It should not be used together with croton fruit. Reference Materials: Other Medical Records of Famous Physicians
: "Treats edema of the feet by keeping the adverse qi downward, eliminating pathogenic wind and inducing diuresis." The Compendium of Materia Medica
: "The morning glory seed
is outstandingly effective for the treatment of retention of water in the lungs, dyspnea with chest distention, stagnation and obstruction in the lower abdomen, edema of the lower back and loins and constipation due to pathogenic wind or disorder of qi
in the large intestine. But for those who have pathogens in the blood system and are deficient in spleen-yang
with fullness sensation in the epigastrium, this herb should not be taken for instant effects nor taken frequently because it impairs the vital-qi
." Original Meanings of Materia Medica
: "In ancient recipes, the morning glory seed
was mostly used in powder and pills. For first aid, it can also be decocted with other herbs for oral administration. But it purges the vital-qi
to a large extent, so it should be avoided by anyone with bodily weakness." Toxic or Side Effects:
Morning glory seed is toxic to the human body. The use of a large dose can not only directly cause vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and defecation with blood and mucus, but also irritate the kidneys in such a way as to cause hematuria. In serious cases, it may impair the nervous system so as to result in aphasis, coma, etc. Modern Researches:
Morning glory seed contains pharbitisin, nilic acid, gallic acid and alkaloids such as ergosterol, chanoclavine, penniclavine, isopenniclavine and clymoclavine.
Pharbitisin will separate pharbitin out when it meets bile and intestinal juice in the intestines, which irritates the intestinal tract, promotes peristalsis and causes drastic purgation. There is no difference in purgative actions between the black morning glory seed
and the white one.