Common flowering quince fruit, also known as Japanese quince fruit or Mu Gua, is an herbal medicine peculiar to China. Traditionally this herb is used as a medication for rheumatoid arthritis, Athlete’s foot, acute bacillary dysentery, etc. In addition to its impressive range of medicinal uses, it is also with high nutritional value. Tie Geng Hai Tang, its another frequently-used name in Chinese, comes from Qun Fang Pu (Florilegium), a botanical work compiled in Ming Dynasty. And literally it means “appressed pedicel Malus spectabilis”. Apparently they are not the same thing and it is named after that simply because of the similar flowers and the characteristic shorter pedicel clinging to the branch. By the way, don’t confuse it with Carica papaya since papaya is also called mugua.
What is quince fruit?
Medicinally it mainly means the dried near-mature fruits of Chaenomeles speciosa (Sweet) Nakai or Chaenomeles lagenaria (Loisel.) Koidz. This is a plant in the family Rosaceae. In addition, sometimes it also refers to other quince fruit varieties, such as Chaenomeles sinensis (Thouin) Koehne, Chaenomeles cathayensis (Hemsl.) Schneid., and C. thibetica Yü (Tibetan quince). Therefore, other names of this herb include quince Japanese fruit, quince japonica fruit, Chaenomeles Fruit, Fructus Chaenomelis Lagenariae, Chaenomeles lagenaria fruit, Fruit of Common Flowering quince, quince bush fruit, and so on.
In China, it is mainly produced in Anhui, Sichuan, Hubei, and Zhejiang. The one grown in Xuancheng in Anhui are known “Xuan mugua” thanks to its superior quality. It is usually harvested during summer and autumn when fruits become greenish-yellow. And then it should be boiled in water until the skin turns pale, lengthwise cut in half, dried in the sun, sliced, and used raw.
Flowering quince tree is a deciduous shrub, usually up to 2 meters. Twigs are glabrous and thorny. Leaves are from ovate to elliptic, 3 to 10cm long, and 1.5 to 1cm wide. Clustered flowers are in a variety of colors, such as red, pink, light red, and white; styles are 5, connate at base, and glabrous. Flowering time is from March to April and the fruit time is in October. Fruits are oval or oblong, 4 to 9cm long, 2 to 5cm wide, and 1 to 2.5cm thick. Outer surface is reddish purple or reddish brown and with irregular deep wrinkles. The edges of cross section curls inward. Flesh is reddish brown. And the center part is sunken and brown orange.
Main chemical constituents are malic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, saponins, and oleanolic acid.
Quince fruit benefit
Flowering quince shrub has been cultivated for a long time in China as an ornamental plant. Most of them are grown, alone or in groups with winter jasmine and forsythia, in gardens as a hedge for greening purpose. Quince’s fruit looks like apple and the ripe one is yellow on shady side and pink on sunward side. Single fruit weighs from 200 to 350 grams. It is considered really nutritious since it is rich in vitamins, anti-aging substance, protein, tartaric acid, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and so on.
More than that, it is also the superior raw material for manufacturing candied fruit and medicine. Its products, such as quince fruit juice, paste, jam, preserve, and jelly, have a very unique sweet sour taste and an exceptional faint scent. What’s more, it is with a long shelf life because of its hard texture and containing less pulp fibers and no stone cells. More importantly, it has tons of health benefits that can help people live healthier lives.
Modern pharmacological actions of quince fruits
1. Its suspension has hepatoprotective effect;
2. Both of its fresh juice and decoction have obvious inhibitory effect on intestinal bacteria and Staphylococcus aureus;
3. Its extract has inhibition on Ehrlich ascites carcinoma and the phagocytosis of peritoneal macrophage in mice.
Sample quince recipes on herbal remedies
On the basis of the record in Chinese Materia Medica, it is sour in flavor and warm in properties and it goes to meridians of liver, lung, kidney, and spleen. Primary functions are relaxing tendons, activating collaterals, and removing dampness to harmonize stomach. Prime quince fruit uses and indications include rheumatoid arthritis, heavy aching arms and legs, tendon spasm, muscle cramp due to vomiting and diarrhea, and beriberi edema. Recommended dosage is from 5 to 10 grams in decoction, powder, or teapills.
1. Mu Gua Jian from Pu Ji Ben Shi Fang (Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It combines with Ru Xiang (Frankincense), Mo Yao (Myrrh Gum), and Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia) to heal muscle contracture, stiff neck, and inability to turn over.
2. Mu Gua Dan from Quan Xin Shi Yong Fang (Delivering Trustworthy Applicable Prescriptions). It works with Qiang Huo (Notopterygium), Du Huo (Angelica Root), and Fu Zi (Aconite) to cure heavy painful legs and knees and failing to walk far or stand long.
3. Ji Ming San from Zhu Shi Ji Yan Fang (Collection of Experiential Prescription from Dr. Zhu). It joins with Wu Zhu Yu (Evodia), Bing Lang (Betel Nut), Zi Su Ye (Perilla Leaf), etc. to treat swelling and unbearable pain in beriberi edema.
4. Mu Gua Tang from San Yin Fang (Three Causes Formulas). It couples with Evodia, Xiao Hui Xiang (Fennel Seed), Perilla Leaf, etc. to cure spasm caused by vomiting and diarrhea.
5. Mu Gua Wan from Xiao Er Yao Zheng Zhi Jue (Key to Syndrome Identification and Treatment of Diseases in Infants). It partners with She Xiang (musk), Mu Xiang (Costus), and Betel Nut to stop vomiting.
Quince fruit side effects and contraindications
Quince fruit is edible and generally considered relatively safe medicinally if used properly. And 25 mice weighting between 18 to 25 grams had been given by tail intravenous injection, 0.2ml each time, with 1ml quince injection (containing 0.5g crude drug). The result of 3h, 8h, and 20h of toxicity testing showed that no animal deaths were found. TCM wise, it shouldn’t be used in the cases of stagnated heat and scanty dark urine.