In modern society, more and more people maintain their healthy with China medicinal herbs. Many China medicinal herbs have become delicious dishes on the dining tables. We know that many normal fruits and vegetables are also China medicinal herbs, such as: peach, cherry, pear, green onion, garlic, chilli, wheat, corn.....
China medicinal Herbs/flowers tea become normal and popular tea in tea families.
While people believing that China medicinal herbs take the important role at health care, there are many people bring harm to their healthy while they taking China medicinal herbs, just because they don't take the China meidicinal herbs correctly.This is so-called "bad effects".
However,will you deny that China medicinal herbs can take the important role in health care because of "bad effects"? or you dare not try them?
In fact, the majority of Chinese meidcinal herbs are not toxic, the so-called "bad effects" are because of inappropriate use. As long as you understand a few basic properties of China medicinal herbs, you can eliminate of "bad effects", and achieve the objective of maintaining healthy with China medicinal herbs.
Part1 Theory on Herb Properties
Diseases are caused by pathogenic factors, which affect the human body, resulting in dysfunction of the internal organs and in hyperactivity or hypo-activity of yin, yang, qi and blood. Herbs are used to eliminate pathogenic factors restore normal function of the internal organs and rectify hyperactivity or hypo-activity of Yin, Yang, qi and blood, enable the body to recover from illness.
Curative effects of herbs come from their polarizing properties. Rectification of deviation by polarity is the essence of their curative effects. The theory on herb properties and the law governing applications are pharmacology of Chinese herbs, including four natures and five flavors, effects of lifting, lowering, floating or sinking, meridian tropism and toxicity.
Four natures and five flavors are the main contents of the theory on herb properties. Natures and flavors of herbs are the first principle of all indicated in books on herbology of all ages.
1. Four Natures
1.1. Concept of four natures
Four natures are cold, hot, warm and cool natures of herbs. Cold and cool natures are different in essence form and antagonistic against warm and hot natures, forming the two major properties. Cold nature is the same in essence as but, stronger than cool nature; and hot nature is the same in essence as but stronger than warm nature.
1.2. Determination of four natures
Four natures of herbs are determined by their curative effects on cold and heat syndromes.
For example, patients with extreme heat, extreme thirst and energetic pulse, belonging to heat syndrome of excess type, are treated with gypsum (Shi Gao), anemarrhena rhizome(Zhi Mu) and other herbs. If these heat symptoms are alleviated or eliminated, gypsum and anemarrhena rhizome should belong to cold nature. Warm and hot natures of herbs are determined according to the same principle.
1.3. Effects of four natures
In general, warm and hot herbs have the effects of warming and clearing the meridians, warming the interior to disperse cold, supplementing fire to support yang, warming yang to induce diuresis, and recuperating depleted Yang to rescue patients from collapse. Cold and cool herbs have the effects of clearing heat to purge fire, removing heat from blood to eliminate toxicity, purging heat to relax the bowels, inducing diuresis to treat stranguria, and removing heat from the heart and liver.
"To treat cold syndrome with hot, and to treat heat syndrome with cold herbs'' is the basic principle of using Chinese herbs. That is to say, warm and hot herbs are used to treat cold syndrome, and cold and cool herbs are used to treat heat syndrome. In addition, neutral herbs, such as liquorice, which has mild effects without obvious cold or hot properties, can be used for both cold and heat syndromes.
2. Five Flavors
2.1. Concept of five flavors
Five flavors are pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty tastes of herbs, representing their different effects. In addition, tasteless and puckery flavors still belong to five tastes.
2.2. Determination of five flavors
Five flavors are determined by actual tasting and experience of clinical applications. Therefore, five flavors as a theory of herb properties are far beyond the concept of tasting sensations but closely linked to effects of herbs. That is the reason why flavors recorded in books on herbology are sometimes different from actual tasting sensations.
2.3. Effects of five flavors are briefly described as follows:
Pungent flavor herb has the effects of inducing diaphoresis, promoting flow of qi and blood circulation. Pungent herbs include ephedra (Ma Huang), purple perilla (Zi Shu), aucklandia root (Mu Xiang), cyperus tuber (Xiang Fu) and green tangerine orange peel (Qing Pi) as well as chuanxiong rhizome (Chuang Xiong), Chinese angelica root (Dang Gui) and safflower (Hong Hua), etc.
Sweet flavor herb has the effects of tonification, relieving spasm and gentling other herbs, including astragalus root (Huang Qi), prepared rehmannia root (Shu Di Huang) and polise antler (Lu Rong), White peony root (Bai Shao), liquorice (Gan Cao) and malt extract (Yi Tang) as well as Chinese date (Da Zao).
Sour flavor herb has the astringent effect of suppressing sweating, arresting bleeding, relieving diarrhea and controlling nocturnal emission. Sour herbs include white peony root (Bai Shao) and schisandra fruit (Wu Wei Zi), dogwood fruit (Shan Yu Rou), black plum (Wu Mei) and Chinese gall (Wu Bei Zi) etc.
Bitter flavor herb has the effects of eliminating dampness, lowering rebellious qi, purging heat and relaxing the bowels, such as apricot kernel (Xing Ren) and lepidium seed (Ting Li Zi), pinellia tuber (Ban Xia) and tangerine peel (Chen Pi) etc.
Salty flavor herb has the effects of softening and resolving hard lumps to treat scrofula, subcutaneous nodule, mass in the abdomen, and other pathologically formations, such as seaweed (Hai Zao), oyster shell (Mu Li), fresh water turtle shell (Bie Jia) and eupolyphaga (Man Cong). In addition, it is said that "salty herbs act on blood'' and "salty herbs act on the kidney''. Therefore, some herbs with the effects of removing heat from blood and tonifying the kidney taste salty.
In addition, tasteless flavor belongs to sweet with the effect of inducing diuresis to remove dampness. Tasteless herbs include poria (Fu Ling) and lophatherum (Dan Zhu Ye). Puckery flavor belong to sour has the effect of astringency. Puckery herbs include dragon's bone (Long Gu) and cuttlefish bone(Wu Zai Gu). Astringent: heals ulcers, checks all discharges, separates impurities from tissues, reduces obesity and excessive moisture.
Natures and flavors reflect properties and the principle of applications in limited aspects. Therefore, only by combining natures with flavors, can the properties be comprehensively grasped. For example, both scutellaria root (Huang Qin) and dried rehmannia root (Di Huang) are cold with the effect of clearing heat. However, scutellaria root, bitter in taste and cold in nature for clearing heat and dampness, is indicated for damp-heat syndrome; while dried rehmannia root, sweet in flavor and cold in nature for clearing heat and nourishing yin, is indicated for yin deficiency and interior heat syndrome. All the herbs for relieving exterior syndrome belong to pungent flavor. However, herbs, pungent in flavor and warm in nature for relieving exterior syndrome, are indicated for wind-cold type of common cold; while herbs, pungent in flavor and cool in nature for relieving exterior syndrome, are indicated for wind-heat type of common cold. It can thus be seen that natures and flavors are inseparably linked to each other.
The properties of herbs and effects of the doshas are taken into account in designing the Ayurvedic herb formulas. So it is important to know the details of the herbal properties so that it can apply for a specific treatment area.
Part2 Lifting, lowering, floating and sinking
Lifting, lowering, floating and sinking refer to four different directions of motions that Chinese medicinal herbs have in the human body. Varying disease often appears to bear a tendency of motion that move upward, downward, towards the exterior or the interior. And for the state of a disease, they are distinguished into those due to adverse ascending of pathogenic factors and those due to invasion of pathogenic factors sinking deeply into the interior and lowering down to the lower energizer. Corresponding to the above, the directions of actions of medicinal herbs on human body also have the lifting, lowering, floating and sinking distinction. While treating a disease, according to its different causes, a doctor should select corresponding medicnal herbs and makes the best of their lifting, lowering floating or sinking actions to help dispel pathogenic factors correct the disorder of the body function and restore them to the normal.
Part3 Meridian tropism
Meridian tropism refers to that medicinal herbs may often produce their therapeutic effect on some portion of a human body in preference, in other words, their therapeutic action is mainly related to some viscus of channel or some channels in predominance but it may seem to produce fewer effects on or seem not related to the other viscera and channels. Meridian tropism takes the theory of viscera and meridians, and the indication of syndromes as a basis.
Compatibility of Chinese Medicinal Herbs
Compatibility of Chinese medicinal herbs refers to the combination of more than two herbs with purpose in the light of clinical requirement and medicinal properties and actions. It is the main method of medicinal application in clinic and also the basis of making up formulae of Chinese medicinal herbs.
During clinical practice, we only use a single to treat a disorder and fulfill its therapeutic purpose if the case condition is simple and light. But on occasions when a disease is accompanied by other diseases or it is due to invasion of both superficies and interior by pathogenic factors or asthenic syndrome is complicated with sthenic syndrome, or cold syndrome accompanied by heat syndrome alternatively, a single formula can fail to achieve desired effects. Therefore several Chinese medicinal herbs must be used in combination according to their specific properties so as to extend the circulation of their treatment.
Dosage and Administration
The amount of medicinal herb to be taken is called dosage, which signifies the daily amount of one particular herb by adults and the comparative measure of medicinal herbs in the same prescription. Regarding administrating the proper dosage for a patient, the doctor must take in account of the property of medicinal herbs, the condition of illness of the patients, as well as the patient´s physique and age. The common administration of Chinese Medicinal herbs may be oral, external or local. Forms of decoction, pills, powder, soft extract and wine etc… are prepared for oral use, while application of moxibustion, pigmentum lotion, laryngeal insufflations of medicinal power, eye drops, thermotherapy, and supposition etc… are used externally. Whereas the form of decoction is still most widely used at present, which are generally prepared by patients, Therefore doctors should tell their patients or patient´s relatives how to decoct medicinal herbs in order to ensure achieving desired effects in clinical application of medicinal herb.
Methods of Ingestion
Generally speaking, decoction should be taken warm. Chinese medicinal herbs may be decocted twice, and the decocted juice is mixed together and divided into two parts for daily use. An acute case should take two doses a day or even three does at an interval of every four hours. A chronic patient may take a dose every one to two days. Pills or powder may be taken with warm water. Chinese medicinal herbs that are warm in nature should be taken in cold and vice versa. As for the time of taking medicine, tonics should be taken before meals and calming herbs should be taken before sleeping. A patient with an acute disease may take medicine as soon as the disease attacks without the limits of time
Part 4 Toxicity
Toxicity is referred to as harmful effects or toxic effects of herbs on the human body. Attention should be paid to this problem in grasping herb properties of remedies.
Poisonous is different in their toxic effects. Therefore, herbs are distinguishably marked by "slightly toxic'' or "extremely toxic'' in books on herbology of all ages. In general, the toxic dose of a poisonous herb is close to its therapeutic dose with a relatively small safety coefficient in its clinical use. If used improperly, a poisonous remedy could cause severe damage to tissues and organs of the human body and even lead to death. Therefore, when using a toxic remedy, an extremely toxic one, in order to guarantee its safety dose, physicians should pay attention to the following points:
1. The dose of a poisonous herb should be strictly controlled.
An excessive dose is one of the main causes for intoxication of Chinese herbs. Therefore, when using a toxic herb, physicians should strictly control its dose based on the patient's age, constitution and the state of illness, and stop using it before going too far. Toxic herbs should not be taken in an excessive dose or for a long time in order to avoid excessive or accumulative intoxication of Chinese herbs.
2. Attention should be paid to use the toxic herbs correctly.
The key point to preventing intoxication of herbs is to use different herbs in different way. Some toxic herbs should be taken in pill or powder but not in decoction; some should be externally applied but not be orally taken; and some should be decocted for a long time. Intoxication is often clinically caused by the improper use of a toxic herb. For example, intoxication of Sichuan aconite root or prepared aconite root is mainly attributed to inadequate decoction.
3. Preparation technique should be followed
One of the objects of preparation is to reduce or eliminate the toxic effects of 4rugs. Therefore, strict technology of preparation and scientific standard of quality are important guarantee for safe use of Chinese herbs in clinical practice.
In addition, specific attention should be paid to appropriate compatibility and avoiding incompatibility.
Everything has its duality, and so has herb toxicity. The therapy of attacking toxicity with poisonous remedies is often used to treat scrofula, malignant lump and tumor.
Now,more and more people like to take China medicinal herbs tea. Comparing with green tea or black tea, China medicinal herbs tea can specially prevent diseases, keep good health and for medical treatment.