Mu Xiang – Auklandia/Saussurea root or Costus – “Fragrant Wood”

Nature: acrid, bitter, warm

Enters: Stomach, Spleen, Large Intestine, Gallbladder

Actions: Regulates Qi, adjusts the middle Jiao, relieves pain; strengthens the spleen, prevents stagnation (does not tonify Qi); adjusts and regulates stagnant Qi in the intestines.

• Qi stagnation in the stomach/spleen and/or intestines (including from food retention): distended epigastrium, borborygmus, lack of appetite, epigastric or abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or dysentery with tenesmus. Because of its slightly astringent quality, this is a common herb for treating tenesmus.
• Liver or gallbladder Qi stagnation: flank pain, distention, or soreness.
• Damp-heat: distending pain in the costal/hypochondriac region, bitter taste in the mouth, yellowish tongue coat.
• Spleen/stomach Qi deficiency: distended epigastrium, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhea.
• Often included (as with tonics) to facilitate absorption of rich or heavy substances. Especially useful when the transformative and transportative functions of the spleen are weak.
• Particularly useful for paraumbilical stagnation and stagnation in the upper abdomen.
• The unprepared herb is used for stopping pain, while the prepared form (fried with wheat bran) is better for treating diarrhea.
Some sources say this herb is so aromatic and bitter that it can cause dryness.
• This herb should only be cooked for 5 minutes (or less).
Chuan mu xiang – Vladimiria – is sometimes substituted for Mu xiang. It is similar to Mu xiang, but weaker.
MLT: This herb’s action comes from its volatile oils [which will evaporate from extended exposure to heat], therefore, add it during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
• A small amount helps prevent griping from purgatives.
Hsu: Acts on the vagus nerve – stimulates the large intestine, increases peristalsis, moderates pain and gas in the GI tract; antibacterial properties.
HF: An important herb in anti-Gu therapy to move Qi (xing Qi) and break accumulation (po ji).
DY: Dries dampness; arouses the spleen, disperses food stagnation.
• With Bing lang to move the Qi, disperse food stagnation, and stop pain. For such indications as:
– 1. Lack of appetite, abdominal and epigastric distention and pain aggravated by pressure, difficult defecation or dry stools due to food stagnation in the stomach and intestines. (Bing lang should be stir-fried until scorched.)
– 2. Dysentery or diarrhea with tenesmus and abdominal pain due to Qi stagnation. (Use scorched Bing lang and roasted Mu xiang.)
– 3. Constipation or difficult defecation due to Qi stagnation. (Use scorched Bing lang.)
• With Huang lian to rectify the Qi, drain heat, dry dampness, and treat dysentery. This combination is used in Xiang Lian Wan for indications such as diarrhea, bloody and purulent dysentery, abdominal pain, and tenesmus due to damp-heat and Qi stagnation in the large intestine. Roasted Mu xiang should be used.

Dose: 1.5-9g

2 comments on “Mu Xiang – Auklandia/Saussurea root or Costus – “Fragrant Wood”

  1. Clarisa Lane says:

    I have brought so radix Vladimirla and I’m trying to see how to use it do I boil it or put with food

    • says:

      I don’t know your particular situation, so I can’t give any personal advice. It’s typically included in a comprehensive formula of herbs. On it’s own, though, you would probably want to use about a tablespoon of the herb in about a cup and a half of water in a pot. Let it soak for half an hour, then bring to a boil, then immediately reduce it to a simmer, cover the pot, and simmer on very low heat for about 5 minutes. then strain off the herb and drink the tea. Again, though, I’m just speaking about how I would do it.

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