Chinese Medicinal Herbs:
The medicinal properties of certain plants were discovered accidentally thousands of years ago.
Every herb has its own properties which include:
- its energy,
- its flavour,
- its movement and
- its related meridians to which it connects.
It includes four natures and five flavours that have the effects of lifting, lowering, floating or sinking meridian tropism and toxicity.
The combination of herbs prescribed depends completely on the symptoms and the imbalance in a person’s energy.
Usually cold or cool herbs will treat fever, thirst, sore throat and general heat diseases.
Hot or warm herbs will treat cold sensation in the limbs, cold pain and general cold diseases.
Pungent herbs are generally used to induce perspiration and promote circulation.
Sweet herbs relieve pain and slow the progression of acute diseases; harmonise other herbs or reduce toxicity and provide nourishing deficiency.
Sour herbs constrict, obstruct and solidify. These herbs are good to stop perspiration or diarrhoea for example.
Salty herbs soften hardness, lubricate intestines and drain downward. These herbs are used to treat hard stool with constipation or hard swellings as in diseases like goiter.
Bitter herbs induce bowel movement; reduce fevers and hot sensations, re-direct rebellious Chi, dry dampness and clear heat. They can also nourish the kidneys and are used to treat damp diseases.
After a herb is absorbed by a patient it can move in 4 directions:
- Upward towards the head,
- Downward towards the lower extremities,
- Inward toward the zang-fu organs or
- Outward towards the superficial regions of the body.
Upward movement herbs are used for falling symptoms like prolapsed organs.
Downward moving herbs are used to push down up surging symptoms like coughing and vomiting.
Outward moving herbs are used to induce perspiration and treat superficial symptoms that are moving towards the interior of the body.
Inward moving herbs induce bowel movements and promote digestion.
Each herb will have a corresponding meridian(s) to which it will relate. So depending on the imbalance in a person’s energy depends on which herbal combination is used.
Formulas are a group of herbs which treat a specific condition or diagnosis from a Chinese medicine point of view. Sometimes this correlates directly with a western medical diagnosis but mostly not.
For example six people may have a western diagnosis of peptic ulcer, but depending if pressure makes it worse or better, whether heat helps or cold does, whether eating makes it better or worse will depend on which Chinese medicine diagnosis they are given and which formula of herbs which could be any of six different formula.