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Herb Gallery

Mu Li (Ostrea gigus)

  • Botanical name: Ostrea gigus
  • Common name: Oyster shell
  • Family: Ostreidae, oyster family
  • Part used in Chinese medicine: whole shell
  • Major Chinese medicine actions:
  • Benefits yin, anchors yang, calms spirit, softens and
    dissipates nodules, prevents leakage of fluids
Ostrea gigus
Ostrea gigus

Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 1: Ostrea gigus; 12/2005; author David Monniaux; permission under GFDL
Photo 2: Ostrea gigus; 01/2006; author David Monniaux; permission under GFDL


Traditionally the lower shell of the ocean oyster was preferred for medicinal use as it is generally larger, deeper, and harder in texture than the upper shell. In modern times, the whole shell is used.

Mu Li is used in either its unprepared form, called “Sheng Mu Li” or calcined, called “Duan Mu Li”. Calcining greatly enhances the shells drying quality and astringent nature. It is a process by which the shells are placed in a container, heated at a high temperature until they are red hot, then are cooled and pulverized.