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No Baloney, Abalone Shell Is A Popular Traditional Chinese Medicine

When you think of Chinese herbs, what comes to mind? Probably not anywhere near the top of your list: mollusks—invertebrate animals with soft bodies, protected by a hard shell. 

Abalone, a type of mollusk, is a delicacy in Asia, which accounts for over 75% of the Abalone demand worldwide. Abalone can fetch over $3,000 per pound. But it’s not just the meat of this gastropod that people in the Orient adore. Throughout history, abalone shell has been an important ingredient in many TCM formulations, Korean traditional Hanbang medicine, and Japanese Kampo medicines.

If you have eye problems, irritability, restlessness, or headaches, abalone shell—Shi Jue Ming—is worth learning about as a TCM. (And it doesn’t cost anywhere near $3,000 a pound.)

What Is Shi Jue Ming (Abalone Shell) Used For In TCM?

In a nutshell—mollusk shell, to be more accurate, Shi Jue Ming harmonizes the Liver and anchors Yang.

There are lots of stressors in life that can disrupt Liver Qi. According to TCM theory, Liver Qi ascends to the eyes. When excess Yang Qi rises and settles in the eyes, the dispersed heat can cause eye and vision problems. Not only that, when a strong Yang storm blows in (to use an analogy if not an exact TCM phrase), the excess heat can cause other disturbances in the head and mind, such as:

When you think of Chinese herbs, what comes to mind? Probably not anywhere near the top of your list: mollusks.  
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Occasional Sleeplessness

Abalone Shell in TCM: Anchoring Yang

Mollusks, including abalone, have a strong, adhesive foot-like structure in their abdominal area. The mollusk uses this curious appendage to cling to rocks like an anchor secures a vessel to the bed of a body of water. 

In TCM theory, the abalone shell has anchoring properties of its own. Shi Jue Ming anchors Yang Qi. As mentioned, Yang in the Liver channel tends to rise when Liver Qi becomes imbalanced. 

Anchoring Yang refers to the concept of balancing and stabilizing the body’s Yang energy. Yang is associated with warmth, activity, and outward movement. Yang energy is considered essential for maintaining vitality and overall health. However, when Yang energy becomes excessive or deficient, it can lead to various health problems.

Several TCM modalities can help anchor Liver Yang. This includes dietary adjustments, herbal remedies like Shi Jue Ming, acupuncture, and moxibustion (the burning of mugwort near the skin), and lifestyle modifications such as adequate rest and exercise. By anchoring Yang, Shi Jue Ming prevents excessive dispersion or stagnation of Yang energy. 

Abalone Shell For Eye Health & More

Shi Jue Ming roughly translates as “Stone Sense Brightness.” “Shi” means stone, “Jue” means sense or feel, and “Ming” means brightness or clarity. The name reflects the visual qualities and perceived benefits of abalone shell in TCM, particularly for promoting eye health and clarity of vision.

Shi Jue Ming is considered to have a cooling and calming effect on the body, including the eyes. For this reason, abalone shell is commonly used in TCM formulas to support vision and soothe tired, red, or irritated eyes.

In addition, abalone shell contains calcium carbonate, an alkaline buffer that helps ease indigestion. The presence of calcium in abalone shell, along with other minerals such as magnesium and silica, also supports healthy bone growth.

A 2017 study in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition says that marine organisms are increasingly being investigated as sources of bioactive molecules with therapeutic applications as nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Abalone shell was found to contain a variety of bioactive compounds with anti-oxidant, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties, the researchers stated. “Recent research has revealed that abalone is composed of many vital [structural components] like polysaccharides, proteins, and fatty acids that provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition.”

Where to Buy Shi Jue Ming (Abalone Shell)

It depends on what you want to do with the shell. Want a shell for jewelry, an ashtray, or a nightlight? It’s only one click away. 

Shi Jue Ming (Abalone Shell , 石决明, Concha Haliotidis)

One-click shopping is also available for Shi Jue Ming, the TCM, through ActiveHerb, which offers a 20x concentration. This means that 100 grams of Shi Jue Ming (a bottle’s worth) is the equivalent of 2000 grams of raw, dried shell—that’s nearly 4.5 lbs! Free of 278 pesticides and herbicides, ActiveHerb Shi Jue Ming extract granules can be mixed with hot water or added to food.

Shi Jue Ming is also an ingredient in the vision formula, YinVive Vision


Suleria HA, Masci PP, Gobe GC, Osborne SA. Therapeutic potential of abalone and status of bioactive molecules: A comprehensive review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017 May 24;57(8):1742-1748.