Herb: Ma Dou Ling


Latin name: Aristolochia debilis


Synonyms: Aristolochia recurvilabra


Family: Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)



Medicinal use of Ma Dou Ling:

Alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, diuretic. Stimulates energy circulation. The fruit and its capsule are antiasthmatic, antiseptic, antitussive and expectorant. It is used internally in the treatment of asthma and various other chest complaints, haemorrhoids and hypertension. The root is anodyne and anti-inflammatory. It is used internally in the treatment of snakebite, gastric disorders involving bloating, and is clinically effective against hypertension. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The whole plant is antitussive, carminative, stimulant and tonic. The root contains aristolochic acid. This has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Aristolochic acid can also be used in the treatment of acute and serious infections such as TB, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and infantile pneumonia. It also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells. Aristolochic acid is said to be too toxic for clinical use.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Roadside thickets and meadows in lowland, C. and S. Japan and in China.

Edible parts of Ma Dou Ling:

Leaves - cooked. It is said that the leaves of this species are not poisonous but caution is advised.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in hand-hot water and surface sow in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 3 months at 20C. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Division in autumn. Root cuttings in winter.

Cultivation of Ma Dou Ling:

Roadside thickets and meadows in lowland, C. and S. Japan and in China.

Known hazards of Aristolochia debilis:

We have no specific details for this species but most members of this genus have poisonous roots and stems. The plant contains aristolochic acid, this has received rather mixed reports on its toxicity. According to one report aristolochic acid stimulates white blood cell activity and speeds the healing of wounds, but is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use. Another report says that aristolochic acid has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that it also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.