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Chinese Herbal Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine is rapidly advancing onto the world stage as a medicine that has endured through time and history to assuage the ills of humankind and assist in the prevention of further diseases and imbalances of health.


Chinese herbal medicine is notable for its sophistication in addressing clinical concerns while remedying an individual’s particular needs. Thousands of years old, the herbal medicine tradition remains a vibrant player in today’s health field.

 

1. What are the four flavors of Chinese herbs? What are their applications in clinical practice

The four flavors are called ‘Si Qi’ in Chinese. ‘Si’ means ‘four’, and ‘Qi’ means ‘the special quality of the herb’. In this context it indicates the temperature of the herbs, namely hot, warm, cold and cool.Hot and cold herbs are opposite in nature, and correspond to the Yang and Yin. Cool and warm herbs have the same nature as cold and hot, but to a lesser degree.

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2. What are the five tastes of herbs? What are their clinical applications?

The five tastes of herbs are pungent, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. Each herb has at least one taste and most have two or three. Some herbs have no specific taste, and so are considered bland herbs. There are also herbs which have a special aromatic smell; these are called aromatic herbs. Another exception is that there are also some herbs or substances which give an astringent sensation in the mouth, so these are called astringent substances.

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3. Aromatic herbs

An aromatic herb has similar functions to those of a pungent herb. It possesses moving and dispersing properties. Furthermore, an aromatic herb has a lighter but more remarkable smell, which brings about the function of penetrating the turbidity of Dampness, reviving the Spleen and transforming Dampness.

It is especially used in conditions where Dampness accumulates in the Middle Jiao and the Spleen fails to transform and transport Dampness, the Spleen-Qi is not able to ascend and the Stomach-Qi is not able to descend. This pathological change leads to symptoms such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a sticky sensation in the mouth. Huo Xiang (Agastachis herba), Pei Lan (Eupatorii herba), Cang Zhu (Atractylodis rhizoma) and Sha Ren (Amomi xanthioidis fructus) are the most commonly used aromatic herbs and are used to treat these disorders.

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4. Which characteristics exist in the combinations of the temperature and taste of herbs?

It often happens that there is more than one taste in one herb; combined with its temperature, they bring about the specific functions of the herb. If more tastes and temperature of herbs are combined, the range of applications is extended. The specific combination of temperature and tastes may lead to the following functions.

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5. What are the applications of the concept that herbs enter meridians?

All herbs enter meridians; some enter one, some enter two or three, some even enter all the meridians.

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