Chinese Herbal Medicine uses medicinal herbs to prevent and treat diseases and ailments or to promote health and healing. Chinese herbs and medicinal substances have played a very important role in promoting longevity and treatment of different diseases for thousands of years.
Chinese Herbal Medicine, is great for prevention of diseases, and capable of treating disease in all its forms. Tested on billions of people, it has evolved over many centuries. Herbs are usually administered in form of Tea or Decoction. Patients' complaints and root causes of diseases can be holistically addressed at the same time.
It is an excellent complement to acupuncture and helps patients continue the traditional Chinese medicine treatment at their pace or when they need to be on vacation and can't receive the acupuncture treatment, or have a busy life schedule which can't accommodate repeated visits to the acupuncture clinic. In more severe cases Chinese Herbal Medicine must be used in combination with acupuncture treatments for faster and continued results.
The basic principle of treating diseases with Chinese Medicinal Herbs is to eliminate causes of diseases, dispel pathogenic factors or restore the coordination of the functions of Zang and Fu organs (internal organs), so that excess and deficiency of yin or yang can be corrected and disease can be cured.
Four Natures of Chinese Herbs
Four properties of Chinese medicinal herbs are Cold, Hot, Warm and Cool. They are also called four natures or four Xing in TCM.
Cold and Cool belong to yin, and Hot and Warm belong to yang. Cold and Cool herbs can clear away heat, purge fire and eliminate toxic material. Hot and Warm herbs can expel cold and restore yang, which are mainly used for cold syndromes.
In addition there are some herbs known as Neutral, which are neither cold nor hot and have a milder action compared to the other four natures.
For example, if a patient takes Cold Herbs like "Huang Lian" and "Shi Gao", symptoms such as high fever, dysphoria, thirst and profuse sweating can be eliminated.
With the same token if a patient takes Hot Herbs like "Fu Zi" and "Gan Jiang", symptoms like aversion to cold and cold limbs, cold an painful sensation in gastric region and diarrhea can be relieved.
Five Flavors of Chinese Herbs
The five flavors of Chinese medicinal herbs refer to the five different tastes of Pungent, Sweet, Sour, Bitter and Salty, which can be tasted by tongue.
Pungent herbs have the action of dispersing and promoting circulation. For example taking Herbs like "Zi Su Ye" and "Bo He" can produce the effects of inducing sweating to expel exogenous pathogenic factors, and "Mu Xiang" can circulate Qi , or "Hong Hua" can promote blood circulation.
Sweet herbs have the action of nourishing, harmonizing and moistening and are indicated for deficiency syndromes, lack of coordination between SPLEEN and STOMACH, certain pain syndromes, constipation due to intestinal heat, cough due to LUNG heat. For instance "Huang Qi" and "Shu Di Huang",have nourishing action, "Gan Cao" can relieve spasm and pain, and "Feng Mi" can moisten intestines and promote bowel movement.
Sour herbs have absorbing, consolidating and astringent actions, and are indicated for incessant perspiration, chronic cough, chronic diarrhea, emission, spermatorrhea, enuresis, frequent urination, prolongs metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, and prolonged leukorrhea caused by loss of essence due to Qi deficiency. For example "Wu Mei" and "Wu Wei Zi" are used to relieve cough and diarrhea, "Shan Zhu Yu" and "Jin Ying Zi" are used to relieve emission and enuresis.
Bitter Herbs have the action of drying and resolving dampness and purging and lowering. They are indicated for constipation, fire-heat, dysphoria, cough, damp-heat or cold-damp syndromes. For example "Cang Zhu" can dry dampness due to its bitter and warm nature, "Da Huang" can promote bowel movement due to its descending action.
Salty herbs have the effect of softening hard nodules and massed and promote bowel movement. They are indicated for scrofula, superficial nodules, abdominal masses and internal accumulation of dry stools. For examples "Hai Zao" and "Kun Bu" can disperse scrofula and "Mang Xiao" can relieve constipation.
Lifting, Lowering, Floating, and Sinking actions of Chinese Herbs
Varying diseases often appear to bear tedency to move upward, downward, towards exterior or interior.
Lifting Herbs like "Huang Qi" or "Sheng Ma" are used for diseases in the lower parts of the body, they raise the SPLEEN Qi and are indicated for chronic diarrhea, lingering dysentery, rectum or uterus prolapse.
Lowering Herbs like "Dai Zhi Shi" and "Shi Jue Ming" are used for diseases due to adverse ascending of pathogenic factors, and are indicated for bleeding, painful swollen gums and aphthae due to ascending fire, or for cough and dyspnea due to abnormal rising of LUNG Qi, or for nausea and vomiting due to abnormal rising of STOMACH Qi.
Floating Herbs like "Fang Feng" and "Du Huo" are used for diseases in the upper and superficial parts of body. They treat wind-cold and dampness and are indicated for pain syndromes.
Sinking Herbs like "Da Huang" and "Mu Tong" are used for diseases inf the lower parts and interior of body. They treat constipation and scanty urination.
Generally speaking Pungent, Sweet flavors, and Warm and Hot Herbs are Lifting and Floating in action. Bitter, Sour and Salty flavors, and Cold or Cool Herbs are sinking and lowering in action. Flowers, leaves and branches, which are light in property are mostly lifting and floating. Fruits, seeds and mineral are heavy in property and are mostly sinking and lowering.
Meridian Tropism of Chinese herbs
Chinese herbs have a tendency to certain meridians for example "Xing Ren" goes to LUNG meridian and is indicated for cough, and LUNG problems.
Chinese Medicinal Formulas and Treatments
A Chinese Medicine Practitioner who knows the properties, actions and flavors of different Chinese herbs in addition to the herbs meridian tropism, can combine them in a formula or prescription to treat different diseases based on Traditional Chinese Medicine classical formulas and practices.