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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


It is pronounced ‘MOO-may’ (synonyms: wumei, smoked plum) and it is the dried unripe fruit of the Prunus mume (Sieb.) Sieb. et Zucc., a deciduous tree up to 10 meters high. It is also known as Japanese apricot.

The green, about-to-ripen fruit is collected in May and oven-dried at 40C for 2-3 days followed by leaving in the closed oven for 2-3 more days until it turns black. Mume is produced mostly in southern provinces, especially Sichuan which is the largest producer. Zhejiang produces the best wumei, which is large and jet black, with thick meat and a small pit, and tastes sour.

Mume is traditionally regarded as sour tasting, astringent and neutral and used to promote secretion as well as expel parasites. It is also used to treat cough, chronic diarrhea, diabetes, ascariasis (roundworm infection) and hookworm infection, neurodermatitis, eczema and hard-to-heal sores. In recent years it has often been used as an ingredient in combination with other detoxicant herbs (e.g. Schisandra, licorice, and fangfeng) both internally and externally in the treatment of the treatment of allergic conditions such as asthma, urticaria, allergic rhinitis and pruritus. It is also boiled in water and sweetened with sugar to make suan mei tang (sour plum decoction), a refreshing drink very popular in southern China and Taiwan.

Learn more about mume and other herbs now! Visit www.earthpower.com where you can read more from Dr. Albert Leung.

Dr. Leung’s authoritative book, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Foods, Drugs and Cosmetics, 2nd Edition presents technical information and traditional medicinal uses of Mume, as well as similar info for about 500 other herbs.

The encyclopedia entry for Mume appears on pp. 541-542.

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