Guide to Chinese Herbology

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Let's open this very important thread, which I hope it builds into a healthy and productive database for everyone interested in this topic.


Let's start with some basic Chinese herbs used in Traditional Medicine:


Astragulus (Huang Qi)

Strengthens energy and maintain body resistance, transfers toxins and aids tissue regeneration. Conditions most commonly used for are low body resistance, self perspiration, hidrosis, anemia, spleen-deficient diarrhea, and all illnesses due to inadequate prime energy.

Strengthens digestion, raises metabolism, strengthens the immune system. It treats chronic weakness of the lungs with shortness of breath, and deficiency edema.

Atractylodes (Pai-shu)

It supplements spleen, benefits energy, converts excessive moisture, and promotes diuresis. Conditions most used for are spleen deficient diarrhea, indigestion, edema, chest tightness and abdominal distension.


Tonifies digestion and counteracts fatigue and diarrhea.

Bupleurum (Chai-hu)

Conditions most commonly used for are stagnation of liver energy and irregular menstruation.
Used in flatulence and indigestion, muscular pains and cramps, and amenorrhea.


One of the major "Chi regulating" or carminative herbs that help regulate moodiness. It is used to treat organ prolapse and raises sagging spirits. It is capable of dredging out old emotions of sadness and anger that may be stored in the organs and tissues of the body.

Chinese Gentian (Lung-dan Tsao)

It purges liver fire, clears damp heat. Conditions most used for are acute hepatitis, acute conjunctivitis, acute tonsilitis; vaginal pruritis and discharges, open sores of the scrotum, abscesses and boils.


Prescribed in rheumatism and general debility, it benefits the liver, strengthens the memory, and gives lightness and elasticity to the body. It is used locally in skin diseases and ulcers, and in affections of the throat. It is especially recommended in nocturnal sweating, hematuria and ophthalmia.


Used to treat pelvic inflammatory diseases, veneral diseases, hepatitis, jaundice and most liver disorders.

Chrysanthemum (Chu-hua)

Carminative, antipyretic and detoxifying. Conditions most used for are headache and dizziness, tinnitis, conjunctivitis, boils and abscesses.


It benefits the blood and circulation and preserves vitality. The flowers are prescribed for colds, headaches, and inflamed eyes. The chrysanthemum tincture is considered beneficial in digestive, circulatory and nervous difficulties.


It is used for inflammations, colds, flu and headache, dry eyes and tearing, blurred vision, spots in front of the eyes and dizziness. It is indicated for hypertension. In combination with honeysuckle, it heightens the antibiotic properties.


Our experience showed that it is effective in relieving asthmatic symptoms. A 48-year old man who had been on puffer for 25 years for his asthma does not need it any more after using Chrysanthemum for 2 months.

Coptis (Huang Lian)


It detoxifies. Conditions most used for are abdominal fullness, emaciation and abdominal cramps.


It is regarded by Chinese doctors as a sort of panacea for a great many ills. It is supposed to clear inflamed eyes, benefit the chest and combat fever. Its use in all forms of dysentery is especially recommended, as well as its use in diabetes to relieve thirst and reduce the quantity of urine.


Experience showed that it is effective in stimulating bile flow. It can be helpful for people who have their gallbladders removed.

Curcuma (Yu-chin)


It stimulates energy circulation and relieves congestion, cools the blood and resolves bruises and clots. Conditions most used for are stagnation in blood and energy circulation, pain in chest, abdomin and muscles.


Recommended in primary syphilis and mania.

Aids digestion, dissolves gallstones, decongests the liver.

Dioscorea (Shan Yao)

A stomach-spleen tonic, nourishes the lungs and complements the kidneys.


It treats digestive weakness, diarrhea, diabetes, weakness of the lungs and kidneys and enuresis.

Gold Coin Grass (Chin-chien Tsao)

Clears fevers, promotes diuresis, relieves gonorrhea. Conditions most used for are urinary tract stones and gallstones; acute and chronic hepatitis.

Poria Cocos (Fu Ling)

It breaks down moisture and promotes diuresis, benefits the stomach/spleen, settles nerves. Conditions most used for are kidney deficiency, pulmonary congestion, difficult urination, apprehension and insomnia.


It helps digestion, calms the mind and emotions, eliminate excess fluid retention, aids tonification of the "Chi" by dispelling dampness.

Rehmannia (Ti Huang)

It moisturizes dryness and promotes salivation, nourishes the Yin and supplements the blood. Conditions most used for are: (1) constipation or difficult urination; (2) anemia and dizziness.


It benefits the the eyes and ears, strengthens the marrow, "quiets the soul and confirms the spirit". It is considered highly tonic and is used in all wasting diseases.


It treats conditions of Yin deficiency including night sweats, thirst, wasting and nocturnal emissions. It is also used for kidney deficiency, back pains, and to promote the healing of bones and flesh.

Saussurea (Mu Hsiang)

Promotes energy circulation, alleviates pain. Conditions most used for are indigestion, diarrhea and dysentery.


It is an antiseptic and insecticidal, used for aching teeth. The role of bacteria in bad breath and sensitive teeth is discussed here.

Scutellaria (Huang Ching or Chinese Skullcap)

It is mostly used in lung-heated coughing, jaundice. It quiets the fetus.


It is a tonic to the bladder, stimulant to the respiratory organ. It is prescribed in amenorrhea and cancer of the breast.


It eases premenstrual tension, strengthens the brain, relaxes nervous tension, induces calm. (Ref. 3)

Self Heal (Hsia Ku Tsao)

It clears the liver and relieves congestion, promotes diuresis and reduces edema. Conditions most used for are lymphadenopathy, goiter, hypertension, conjunctivitis, edema and difficult urination.


It is used in fevers and is an anti-rheumatic, alterative and tonic remedy. It has anti-tumour properties.

He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti Root, Polygonum Multiflorum)

It tonifies the liver and kidneys, fortifies the blood, strengthens muscles and bones and keeps the hair color.


Conditions most used for are: (1) anemia and premature graying of hair, backache and pains and ahces of the knee joint; (2) neurasthenia; (3) lymphadenitis, traumatic bruises.

Vitex (Man-ching)

It is precribed in headache, catarrh and watery eyes. Cancer of the breast is also treated with it.


It counteracts premenstrual syndrome. It also stimulates progesterone production and regulates the menses.

Water Plantain (Tse-hsieh)

It promotes diuresis. Conditions most used for are difficult urination, edema and ascites, excessive sputum production, polyuria, hermaturia and bladder distension.


It is cooling, a tonic, diuretic, arthritic, stomachic, astringent. If taken for a long time, the eyes and ears become acute, hunger is not felt, life is prolonged, and the body becomes light.


It is used for fluid retention, urinary disorders, gravel and calculus, dysentery. It is good for chronic urinary tract infections or "Yin" deficient heat.



Link: Properties of Selected Chinese Herbs



I would also include the following:



Wu Wei Zi (Schisandra berry)


Constrain leakage of lung qi, enriches kidney yin - chronic cough and wheezing due to kidney and lung deficiency.


Tonify the kidneys, bind the essence, stop diarrhea - nocturnal emission, spermatorrhea, leukorrhea, frequent urination, daybreak diarrhea.


Inhibits sweating, generates fluids - thirst with excess sweat, spontaneous sweating, nightsweats, diabetes.


Quiet the spirit, calm the heart - irritability, palpitations, insomnia due to blood deficiency or kidney and heart yin injury.


Gou Qi Zi (Goji, Chinese wolfberry)


Nourish and tonify liver and kidney - yin and/or blood deficiency w/sore back and legs, low grade abdominal pain, impotence, nocturnal emission, xiao ke; neutral nature - commonly used for liver and kidney deficiency.


Benefits the essence and brightens the eyes - essence and blood are unable to nourish eyes, dizziness, blurred vision, diminished acuity.


Enrich yin and moisten the lungs - consumptive cough.



Lingzhi (Reishi mushroom)


1. Nourishes the Heart and Calms the Shen (Spirit)


Restless shen: Lingzhi nourishes the heart and strengthens qi and blood to treat heart and spleen deficiencies that manifest in insomnia, forgetfulness, fatigue, listlessness and poor appetite.

Insomnia: Combine Lingzhi with Dang Gui (Radicis Angelica Sinensis), Bai Shao (radix Pae Alba), Suan Zao Ren (Semen Zizyphi Spinosae) and Long Yan Rou (Arillus Longan).

2. Stops Coughing and Arrest Wheezing

Cough and asthma: Lingzhi dispels phlegm, stops cough and arrest wheezing. Symptoms include coughing caused by cold, coughing with profuse sputum, accelerated respirayion, chronic asthma and difficulty sleeping due to dyspnea.


Asthma and coughing: Add it to Dang Shen (radix Codonopsis), Wu Wei Zi 9fructus Schisandrae Chinensis), Gan Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis) and Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae).

3. Tonifies Qi and Nourishes Blood

Qi and blood deficiencies, weak digestion: Lingzhi has traditionally been used to strengthen the body and tonify qi. It treats qi and blood deficiencies with weak digestion, poor appetite, listlessness, loose stools, fatigue, dizziness and soreness of the lower back.


Qi and blood deficiencies: use Lingzhi alone.



Ren Shen (Ginseng root)


Strongly tonify yuan qi - extreme collapse of qi, shortness of breath, cold limbs, profuse sweating, weak pulse (often used alone for this condition after severe blood loss).


Tonify lung qi - wheezing, shortness of breath, w/kidneys failing to grasp the qi.


Strengthen the middle warmer - lethargy, no appetite, chronic diarrhea, prolapse of organs, distended chest/abdomen.


Generates fluids, stops thirst - xiao ke, damaged fluid due to high dever and profuse sweating.


Benefits heart qi, calms the spirit - palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, poor memory, restlessness due to qi and/or blood deficiency.

Edited by Gerard
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Most Herbal Tea Formulas require herbs being prepared according to the following rule:


1. Primary Herbs (70-80%)


These are the major action herbs in the recipe that work directly on the "health focus" of your tea. Almost any herbs can be the primary ones with selections dependent on the specific goals you are trying to achieve. In addition, there can be (and usually are) more than one herb in this position, making up a total of 70-80% of the formula.


2. Supporting Herbs (15-20%)


The second foundation of a tea formula are the supportive herbs. These are nourishing herbs that build, sooth, fortify, tone and support the primary herbs in the recipe, working to harmonize and ease their delivery and effectiveness.


As with the primary herbs, more than one herb can occupy this position which make up between 15-20% of the total tea ingredients used. These herbs are often soothing, buffering, nutritive and mucilaginous in nature.


3. Activating Herbs (10-15%)


These herbs are used to activate, not only the body systems, but also the other herbs used in the tea recipe. They are referred to as catalysts or action herbs that stimulate, eliminate and get things moving. They make up between 10-15% of the total herbal tea preparation. These are diuretics, diaphoretics, laxatives, stimulants and warming herbs.


For example:


"A good herbal tea formula will include all three of these categories in the proper proportions. For example, if you are making an herbal tea preparation for a cleansing kidney tonic tea, you could use fo-ti root and dandelion root as the primary herbs; nettle and goji berries as the supporting ones; and peppermint and long pepper as the activating ingredients."



Further info:


1. Chinese Herb Gallery


2. Chinese Herbs, Rebuild with the Major Tonic Herbs



Recommended reading:


1. Chinese Tonic Herbs (1984)


2. The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs (2000)


Both authored by Ron Teeguarden, a master herbalist. Interview with him here.

Edited by Gerard
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Good thread.

Are you familiar with Chinese spagyric methods, other than making simple teas or tinctures?

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I'd add the following as reference, as they are used in most Chinese medicine schools around the country:


Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica - Bensky

Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas and Strategies - Scheid


And possibly:


Chinese Herbal Formulas and Applications - Chen and Chen

Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology - Chen and Chen


A a slight aside, unless you're reading pre-communist era herbal text books, or Taiwanese text, most modern Chinese herb text are using pinyin. I don't have the reference book from the the link you posted, but typically the herbs you listed above: Huang qi, bai zhu, chai hu, long dan cao, ju hua, huang lian, yu jin, shan yao, jin qin cao, fu ling, shu di huang, mu xiang, huang qin, he shou wu, xia ku cao, man jing zi, ze xie, etc.


You will also usually find patent formulas using pinyin.

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Nice basic list and good info. Of your list I am particularly fond of astragulus, coptis, curcuma, schisandra, reishi.


However, people shouldn't read this and go hog wild as Chinese Herbal Medicine is very powerful and one needs to know exactly what they are dealing with if they are sick. If you want to take Chinese Herbal Medicines I strongly suggest going to a Chinese Medical Doctor if you are sick. It has been wisely said, "A person who treats themselves has a fool for a doctor". For example, a person with high blood pressure should consult their physician as they may find ginseng to be a totally contraindicated herb, a female who has a family history of breast disease should consult their physician as they may wish to avoid vitex, etc.

And, if the wrong herbs are taken they can further imbalance the system.


Guess everyone here has heard my funny Chinese He Shou Wu story so I won't repeat it.


I am a fan of Golden Flower Chinese Herbs formulas.

A couple of their formulas always on my family's medicine shelf are Gan Mao Ling and Ease Digestion (variation of the old "pill curing" formula) which I jokingly call "ease transgressions".

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Nice basic list and good info. Of your list I am particularly fond of astragulus, coptis, curcuma, schisandra, reishi.


However, people shouldn't read this and go hog wild as Chinese Herbal Medicine is very powerful and one needs to know exactly what they are dealing with if they are sick.



Of course, this is nothing more than an informative guide. Common sense dictates that you must visit a professional first so they can determine where the imbalance is. Everything is interconnected, Chinese herbalism works on that principle, so it is pointless taking a herb to relieve liver Qi stagnation and ignoring the rest of the organs. It's like gardening: add a bit here, take a bit from there, cool in here, warmth in there, etc.


This stuff is extremely complex, ten years of academic study shouldn't be taken lightly.


I opened this thread from an informative perspective...but generally speaking healing is just the tip of the iceberg as lifestyle and dietary changes must be adopted especially if the dysfunction is chronic (it has been happening for a long time).


Energetic manipulation is very important but alone is not enough if a 'catharsis' follows it or accumulated toxins are suddenly released. :)

Edited by Gerard

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Here's an excellent soup used in China to tonify the spleen:


One of the common ways to use tonic herbs in China is cooking them in the form of a soup along with chicken. This is because chicken is thought to bring out and enhance the tonifying and nourishing aspects of the herbs. Most of the tonic herbs have a pleasant taste that does not adversely affect the flavorful quality of mealtime soups made without the herbs. In fact, when properly selected, the additional herbs produce a highly desirable taste and texture for the soup. The following herb mixture for making chicken soup gets excellent reviews:




Lotus seed
Black fungus


The root herbs-astragalus, codonopsis, and dioscorea-are classified by Chinese herbalists as qi tonics. They benefit digestion, aid absorption of nutrients, improve cardiac function, and enhance energy. The two dried fruits, lycium and longan, are classified as blood tonics; they are frequently used to treat anemia, reduce fidgeting, and benefit sleep. Black fungus is reputed to alleviate dryness and benefit the circulation; it adds a satisfying texture to the soup. Polygonatum is classified as a yin tonic; it helps restore moisture to dried membranes. Lotus seed is a mild tonic and sedative useful for alleviating nervousness and irritability.




To make the soup, place about 2 pounds of chicken (best with bones included) with the skin removed in a medium sized pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and remove any residue that floats to the top at that time. Add in the whole package of herbs, 2 cloves of crushed or grated garlic, 2 thin slices of fresh ginger, and a teaspoon of salt (the amount of garlic, ginger, and salt can be adjusted to your taste; these amounts are for a mild flavoring). Bring back to a slow boil, cover, and simmer for about 50-60 minutes.


Add sliced fresh vegetables, such as carrots and celery (for a more warming effect, use green onions), and various greens and squashes at this time and simmer again for an additional 5-10 minutes to soften them. Then add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of wine (or mild vinegar). Remove from heat. All the herb materials are edible except the astragalus, which is too fibrous, and this item should be removed before serving (it is the flat herb that retains a woody appearance).


The package of herbs contains about 5.5 ounces. This recipe makes enough soup for four servings (a large bowl of soup each) providing about 40 grams of dried herbs. For individuals recovering from serious illness or other debilitating experience, the soup can be taken daily for about one week to help restore strength. Others may wish to enjoy this dish about once a week for nourishing the blood and getting a great energy boost. Serve with a side dish of rice to make a complete meal.


Vegetarian Alternative: Cook the herbs together as above but without chicken; when adding the vegetables, also add one pound of tofu as a protein source. If desired; just before removing from heat, blend in four tablespoons of miso paste (or more to taste) in place of the tablespoon of soy sauce.


Note: In the following text, the mention of organs, such as spleen and kidney, are in reference to the traditional descriptions as translated from the Chinese and do not imply any effect on the organs as recognized by Western medicine. Thus, for example, herbs that benefit the "spleen" are usually used to promote digestive functions, which are not related to the spleen functions as recognized today, and herbs that tonify the "kidney" are thought to adjust metabolism and have a variety of beneficial effects that are not associated with the function of the kidney as understood in modern medical terms. The descriptions of the therapeutic nature and applications in the traditional Chinese system are not intended to imply that all such benefits are provided by the soup.

  • Chicken: its taste is sweet, its nature is warm, and it benefits the spleen and stomach. Chicken meat nourishes the qi and blood, and tonifies the kidney and essence. It is used therapeutically for blood deficiency, emaciation, and persistent illness; and for heart palpitations and dizziness. The vegetarian alternative tofu is cooling, lubricating, and benefits the spleen and stomach; miso is sweet and salty, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the stomach, spleen, and kidney. Miso and tofu are used to treat disharmony of the stomach, with loss of appetite, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.
  • Garlic: its taste is pungent and sweet, its nature is warm, and it benefits the spleen, stomach, and lungs. It is used to promote digestion of foods, especially meats, to alleviate intestinal infections, and to treat coughing due to lung disorders.
  • Carrot: its taste is sweet, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the spleen, liver, and lung. It is used for indigestion, weak vision, and cough with fever. Squashes, in general, are sweet, cooling in nature, and benefit the spleen, stomach, and lung. They are used for promoting urination and alleviating coughing.
  • Celery: its taste is pungent and sweet, its nature is cool, and it benefits the liver, stomach, and bladder. It is used for feverish feeling, dizziness, agitation, loss of appetite, and difficult urination. Most green leafy vegetables are slightly astringent, cool, and benefit the spleen and liver.
  • Green onion (scallion): its taste is pungent, its nature is warm, and it benefits the stomach and lungs. It is used for dispersing chill, relieving congestion, and relaxing muscle tension.
  • Black fungus (wood ear): its taste is sweet, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the lung, stomach, and liver. It is used for dry cough, dry throat and mouth, and for other symptoms of dryness.
  • Lotus seed: its taste is sweet and astringent, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the spleen, kidney, and heart. It is used for loss of appetite and diarrhea due to weak digestion, for frequent urination, and for restlessness.
  • Lycium: its taste is sweet, its nature is neutral, and it benefits the liver and kidney. It is used for weakness due to overwork and aging, for weak vision, and for chronic cough.
  • Longan: its taste is sweet, its nature is warm, and it benefits the heart and spleen. It is used for deficiency of blood, with poor memory, heart palpitations, and weakness.
  • Astragalus: its taste is sweet, its nature is mildly warm, and it benefits the spleen and lung. It is used for all kinds of qi deficiency syndromes, especially when there is excessive sweating.
  • Dioscorea: its taste is sweet, its nature is mildly warm, and it benefits the spleen, lung, and kidney. It is used for treatment of diarrhea and frequent urination.
  • Codonopsis: its taste is sweet, its nature is mildly warm, and it benefits the lung and spleen. It is used for all types of qi deficiency syndromes, especially when there is weak digestion. It is commonly used by Chinese herbalists as a substitute for ginseng.
  • Polygonatum: Its taste is sweet, its nature is mildly cold, and it benefits the lung and stomach. It is used for any kind of yin-deficiency syndrome, typically manifesting as fidgeting, dry mouth and throat, and dry cough.


Edited by Gerard
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Chen Pi (orange/tangerine/mandarin dry peel).


Citrus peel is perceived to have a pungent, bitter flavor and a warm property. It interacts with the Spleen, Stomach and Lung meridians.




1. Regulates Qi, improves transportive function of the spleen, relieves diaphragm - epigastric/abdominal distention, fullness, bloating, belching, nausea, vomiting (promotes movement of qi in general; specifically directing it downward - good for different types of nausea/vomiting).


2. Important herb for drying dampness and the transformation of phlegm - coughs with stifling sensation in the chest/diaphragm, and copious viscous sputum.


3. Facilitates the movement of Qi in the middle Jiao and by doing so the functions of the Spleen and Stomach are assisted.





. Edited by Gerard

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Sorry, but I do not see how throwing this information up here without major disclaimers is helpful.


Looking just at the last entry, chenpi, we see information that is nearly incomprehensible to the layman. However, and this is a huge however, because the words in use *seem* familiar to laypeople, then you're gonna have people potentially thinking, "oh, I feel a little tired all the time, maybe I need more qi, and, oh, well my tummy aches and I get shortness of breath--maybe I should just be drinking chenpi tea." Maybe they get lucky and things get better or nothing happens at all, maybe the mess themselves up. The latter happens ALL the time in China, even amongst Chinese people who have reasonable understandings of TCM vocabulary. Here copying and pasting for the English-speaking masses is just contributing to the half-baked tendency that I daresay rightfully gives herbal medicine a bad name, inasmuch as this kind of post runs the real risk of making TCM herbology seem like a DIY hobby--it ain't!!


So let's apply some rigor to dispel the fog in this thread.


First, we are told that chenpi is "perceived" as being pungent and bitter. This one statement alone presents three major problems: 1, the assignment of TCM herb flavors actually often has nothing to do with perception, ie, something may taste one way and be named another. This brings me to point 2, namely that the five flavors (which, in confusing and important actuality, number seven in total) refer to effects onthe body, not the tasted flavor. Therefore, the untrained eye which reads the above information as a simple list of sensations the tastebuds will undergo when taking chenpi has no way of decoding what is really being listed, ie, effects on the holistic qi mechanism of the body--effects which could be quite deleterious if brought about at the wrong time in a body that doesn't need this medicine. 3, even the simple assignment of "flavors" is a matter of centuries of debate, with various ancient texts all disagreeing about each herb's actual properties.


Next, we have "warm property." If you have followed my harangue thus far, then you can surely guess that this one statement could take years, yes years, of hard study to understand at a level where one can safely and responsibly write herbal prescriptions. Rather than write a textbook, I'll ask a series of rhetorical questions: Daoism and its progeny, Chinese medicine, are both famous for encouraging balance between yin and yang. If you agree that balance is key to health, then do you know how to find this balance by using this herb in a human body? Do you know how to find this balance by combining this herb with others? If the answer is no, then does the possibility of overusing or misusing a warm herb not seem far off?


Next, there is the statement that this herb interact with various meridians. Aiya wo de ma ya, what a mysterious term! Alack, even amongst studious TCM graduate students in Beijing or Taipei or Oregon or bloody Oz, how many can tell you what it really means?! Does it mean that some ethereal energy zooms into the lines on your acupuncture chart when you drink this? Does it not? Is there not huge discrepancy text to text on the correspondence of herbs to meridians? Alas, these questions and more loom large over Gerard's posts. I offer just this tidbit: "meridian" here is a translation of 经/經. Indeed when speaking of the acupuncture meridians, that is a correct translation of 经. But 经 in TCM does not always refer to the acupuncture meridians--see 《伤寒论》 for starters.


Next, the reference to spleen, stomach, and lungs is 150% useless to anybody who is not thoroughly versed in TCM zang-fu organ terminology, because what we grow up learning about the organs a la modern allopathic medicine and anatomy/physiology has almost NADA to do with what TCM is talking about, even though the same exact words are used. Confusing? Fuck yes. So think twice, nah thrice, nah make that... fice? Anyway, think hard before you take the "facts" you see here and go hogwild with your.spice rack, word is bond.


Nexxxxtttt... we have the functions. Sigh. Looks like I can't stop writing yet. I'll do them in order.


Function 1:


First problem, do you know what "qi" means in TCM terms, especially vis a vis a herb that operates on the spleen-stomach zang-fu organ pair? No!? Put down that orange peel, then, sonny--that there is a Drug with a capital D. Again, because this is not TCM university and Gerard does not pay me nearly enough, I will drop a tidbit on you all and nothing more: "qi" here is NOT NOT NOT (triple negative=very serious nugatory) a synonym for "energy." Ergo, reading this and thinking "taking chenpi will give me energy" is WRONG WRONG WRONG (=mad dumb).


Beyond that, there is the problem that all of the listed symptoms can be caused by factors that contraindicate this herb! All of them! What does that mean in English? Your nausea might be due to a condition that chenpi could (most likely in combination with other herbs chosen by an expert) alleviate. Or, your nausea could be due to something that has absolutely nothing to do with chenpi. You might think I'm being Chicken Little here, but wrong herb at the wrong time can kill you. A single herb like 巴豆, a formula like 大青龙汤, or even misuse of licorice, the keystone of hundreds of formulas--all have killed countless unlucky souls.


Function 2:


True, but this statement refers to chenpi's role in complex formulas containing up to twenty or more ingredients. Dealing with phlegm is a "sticky" question requiring expertise, not a gung-ho attitude and access to WikiHerb.


Function 3:


See above. Also, there are countless varieties of.stagnation in TCM. "I feel stagnant" ≠ "time to visit Chinatown and buy orange peels."


Function 4:


I fail to see how this fact could bring anything but confusion to the average Jane/Joe/Taneisha. But it reminds me of a final important consideration that hopefully will quash any lingering irrational exuberance created by this thread: the precise location where a herb was grown, the season and even time of day it was picked and prepared, its age, etc... all vastly alter effects. Fakes and poor quality herbs are rampant. Be aware.


Whew. Battery almost gone. Take it easy, yall.

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P.S. I hereby prescribe one grain of salt to all those who read this thread. You may throw it over your shoulder, put it in your pipe and smoke it, or drop it in your belly button to strengthen your kidneys, depending on what floats your boat.

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I have no idea what are you talking about and what is the real purpose of your posts. Pay more attention to your writing (and show some good manners and courtesy), thanks. :D


I am not writing TCM formulas in here in place of professional advice.


Chen Pi tea is a general remedy used anywhere in China and many other countries, like drinking green or puerh tea, or consuming goji berries one can buy in the supermarket.


No contraindications, safe to use.

Edited by Gerard

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The purpose of my post is to point out that there are no herbs which can be consumed by all people all the time. Including tea.


To think otherwise is to be in denial of extremely fundamental and important TCM principles.


For example, if you think that there are no contraindications for green tea and goji berries (as well as many other herbs in the supermarket), then you need to keep studying. A person with stomach cold should not be drinking green tea. A person with excessive dampness or phlegm and insufficient spleen yang should think twice before consuming goji berries, which are very yin-moisturizing. And we haven't even begun talking about quantity, which is a fine art unto itself.


There is not really any such thing as a "general remedy" in TCM herbal medicine. One size does not fit all. Herbs work because their qi is imbalanced--thus, in the Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic, they are referred to with a two-character compound, 毒药, "poison-medicine." Doctors use the herbs' imbalances to correct patients' imbalances. Taking herbs when you don't have an imbalance or taking the wrong herbs can and often enough does create illness. For this reason, the thinking represented by four characters 辨证施治 has constituted the cornerstone of herbology from the Han Dynasty to the present. For this reason, also, all Chinese people know the colloquialism, "是药三分毒": all medicines are three-tenths poison. That goes for ginseng, it goes for astragalus, and it even goes for your Lipton green tea.


Good manners and courtesy? You should hear the words that'd fly out of some of my teacher's mouths if they heard you say that there are herbs with no contraindications. 简直是胡说八道.

Edited by Walker
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I have no idea what are you talking about and what is the real purpose of your posts.


He's speaking from an informed perspective of Chinese herbalism.

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Walker, your posts are a treasure. People world never dream of walking into a pharmacy and picking their own antibiotics. How much more difficult is it to choose medicine from such a foreign system?

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Now that tea has been mentioned, here's some information about puerh tea (the most medicinal of all the Chinese teas).


It is a type of post-fermented green tea that is processed using sun-dried large-leaf tea leaves from certain areas in Yunnan Province.


In Chinese Medicine, it is considered that this particular tea dispels or cleanses the body of fat and toxins from meat and oily foods, hence it has a strong affinity with the liver and a good aid for dieting purposes.


Also compared to other teas, puerh has a cult following amongst connoisseurs and is regarded as a sacred relic of ancient tea cultures and traditions.


Three main types:


1. Cooked or ripe (shou). Yin nature, woody and earthy flavours are dominant.

2. Young Raw (sheng). Yang nature, pungent taste. However, its harsh raw energy tends to attack the "middle jiao" and can lead to many health problems in those who can't handle it. This is especially true for those with cold constitutions and/or digestive or bowel problems.

3. Aged Raw (sheng). Yang and Yin balance. Complex flavour which increases with age resulting in exorbitant prices. Very soothing and wise Cha Qi.


Additional information can be found in the following links:





Edited by Gerard

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Walker, i'm not sure why herbs couldn't be a DIY hobby if you had a working knowledge of general TCM. TCM from people who have gone to uni gets very technical, but it's not the only system that works.


That having been said, anyone should use common sense, if you start getting worse stop, or at least change your attack. Trial and error is how we learn. Any TCM system has been derived through a system of trial and error. Just like Walker said, people disagree on the properties of herbs. Heck, if you search the internet you'll see so many different authoritive opinions on different properties of foods!


Try different foods or herbs, see their effect on you, and build on that. Either that or you could just do nothing and get nothing :) If you're in a hurry to get better well the obvious thing would be to just see an expert.


Sometimes i find that herbal medicine is not good for you at all in the long run, even if you find the right herbs for your situation. It can just act as a buffer so that you can keep making yourself ill but without the obvious bad effects. This allows you to get deeper and deeper into your own problem. It then becomes even more difficult to heal yourself properly and live without the herbs. The herbs become a crutch.


Foods are powerful because we eat them all day every day. Consider using foods as herbal medicine

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If you don't have to take herbs, don't take herbs.


In the vernacular of Chinese medicine all things have direction. The character for formula, Fang 方, literally even means direction. For something to have direction means that it's coming from somewhere and moving towards somewhere else. Somethings move slow, some move fast. Now that these ground rules are established. Herbs move faster than food and some herbs move faster than others.


Now let's say health is your home. To get around in your home, you don't want to move too fast. I mean, you don't drive a car to the bathroom, right? Food basically moves at waking speed. Walking generally won't take you far from home. But walking in the same direction for too long can cover some distance.


Herbs are more like running, riding a bike, taking a bus, or driving a car. Herbs that move at running speed are generally safe for consumption. Think cooking herbs and spices, coffee, tea, etc. But they're much easier to overdo than food. The faster an herb moves, the less safe it is to use.


Now, especially if you're an American, you might be thinking, "cars are the best, the faster the better!" But don't. Think ancient Chinese and recall Laozi's description of happy people. They can hear a rooster crow the next village over and never travel so far as to visit.


Now you might be thinking, "well that sounds boring!" If you think so, you're in good company. Just look at the people around you destroying themselves in the name of entertainment - they all agree!


Eating herbs is the poisoner's path. All poison is medicine and all medicine is poison. It just depends where you are and where you need/want to go. But be warned, self-prescribing either leads to becoming a physician or an early grave. It's not a casual hobby.

Edited by 松永道
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An interesting perspective on Chinese herbalism:


It's not a common way of thinking, but it's a different approach.


Personally what is seriously benefiting me as a beginner are these two books in addition to Bensky's MM and Scheid's Formulas.

Edited by Aetherous
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Flavor and nature is the way to deep herbal understanding. The Yellow Emperors classic says very little about specific herbs, formulas, and foods but a lot about how to use the flavor and nature of plants. It's my understanding that the Vedas of India spoke similarly. Their core theory discusses how to use flavor and nature. They say, regarding specific botanical identification, harvesting, preparation, etc to ask the locals.


In other words, flavor and nature is a core theoretical basis to understand how to use herbs anywhere in the world.


I definitely recommend JulieAnn's stuff to anyone who wants to get their herb studies off on the right foot.


Everything is poison. Everything is medicine. It's all in the usage.

Edited by 松永道
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Shan Zhu Yu (cornus fruit). In the category of herbs that stabilise and astringe.


It's used in Yin Tonic formulas for nourishing the Liver and Kidneys.


Main actions:


1. Strengthens yin, increases jing, quiets the five organs, brightens the eyes after long term consumption, strengthens vigor and lengthens life.

2.Treats brain and bone pain, halts irregular periods, tonifies Kidney Qi, excites male sexual function, replenishes jing and marrow, remedies tinnitus and stops incontinence in the elderly.


This little herb is really the "ginseng of the Kidney."




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That's intersting how he shou wu is used for neuroasthensia being that the same problem can be caused by excessive ejaculation. And the fact that he shou wu being a jing building herb.


I don't know too much about these herbs but I'm young and so excited to learn more about them through out life




He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti Root, Polygonum Multiflorum)


It tonifies the liver and kidneys, fortifies the blood, strengthens muscles and bones and keeps the hair color.


Conditions most used for are: (1) anemia and premature graying of hair, backache and pains and ahces of the knee joint; (2) neurasthenia; (3) lymphadenitis, traumatic bruise

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Except that in rare cases He Shou Wu is inducing jaundice which shows it has a mildly toxic effect on the liver. If you ever experience jaundice just stop taking He Show Wu. I used to take it but I already have jaundice from my liver and taking it made it even worse so I quit using this herb.

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