Chinese herbology is one of the more important modalities utilized in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Chinese herbology is based on traditional Chinese medicine theory. Chinese practitioner use rhizomes, roots, leaves, seeds, fruits, root barks and flowers from natural herbal plants to produce a special preparation for individual according to his/her health condition. Very often the practitioner prescribes a "Chinese herbal formula" which consists of many herbs, combined together in small concentrations, personalized towards the unique diagnosis of each patient. This method provides better results than taking a single herb. The herbs we commonly prescribe in the clinic are in a powder form and are mixed with hot water to make a tea; however, many other forms can be prescribed, including capsules, tablets, liquid, ointments or plaster. Chinese herbs are mainly natural plant based which has no side effects.
HISTORY OF CHINESE HERBOLOGY
Chinese herbs have been used for centuries. The first herbalist in Chinese tradition is Shennong, a mythical personage, who is said to have tasted hundreds of herbs and imparted his knowledge of medicinal and poisonous plants to farmers. The first Chinese manual on pharmacology, the Shennong Bencao Jing (Shennong Emperor's Classic of Materia Medica), lists some 365 medicines of which 252 of them are herbs, and dates back somewhere in the 1st century C.E. Categorizing Chinese Herbs Chinese physicians used several different methods to classify traditional Chinese herbs: The Four Natures The Five Tastes The Meridians
THE FOUR NATURES
This pertains to the degree of yin and yang, namely cold (extreme yin), cool, warm and hot (extreme yang). The patient's internal balance of yin and yang is taken into account when the herbs are selected. For example, medicinal herbs of "hot", yang nature are used when the person is suffering from internal cold that requires to be purged, or when the patient has a general cold constituency. Sometimes an ingredient is added to offset the extreme effect of one herb.
THE FIVE TASTES
The five tastes are pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty, and each taste has a different set of functions and characteristics. For example, pungent herbs are used to generate sweat and to direct and vitalize Qi and the blood. Sweet-tasting herbs often tonify or harmonize bodily systems. Some sweet-tasting herbs also exhibit a bland taste, which helps drain dampness through diuresis. Sour taste most often is astringent or consolidates, while bitter taste dispels heat, purges the bowels and get rid of dampness by drying them out. Salty tastes soften hard masses as well as purge and open the bowels.
The meridians refer to which organs the herb acts upon. For example, menthol is pungent, cool and is linked with the lungs and the liver. Since the lungs is the organ which protects the body from invasion from cold and influenza, menthol can help purge coldness in the lungs and invading heat toxins caused by hot "wind."