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Commonly Used Chinese Herbs

There was a legend that 4,000 years ago there was an emperor called Shen Nong, who devoted himself to the development of agriculture. He tasted hundreds of plants to find out if they were edible, in the process discovered many plants with pharmacological effects. Hence, the name of the first classical work on Chinese materia medica, published around 1,800 years ago, was attributed to him, and known as Shen Nong's Herbal Classic (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing). It contains details of 365 herbs.

Later in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), a monumental work on materia medica, Compendium of Materia Medica (Ben Cao Gang Mu), was compiled by the great doctor and pharmacist Li Shizhen and published in 1590. In 52 volumes, it contained details of 1,892 medicinals, of which 374 were added by Li himself, 1,160 pictures and 11,096 side prescriptions to treat common illness.

Today the number of Chinese medicinals is seven times of Li's, of which there are 87% medicinals of plant origin, otheres are animal and mineral origin. There are over three hundred herbs that are commonly being used, and given specific discussion in the pharmacology of traditional Chinese medicine school and practical manual. The most commonly used herbs are Ginseng (人参, 人參, rénshēn), Dang Shen (Codonopsis root, 党参, dǎngshēn), Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis, 当归, 當歸, dāngguī), Wolfberry fruit (枸杞子), Astragalus (黄耆, 黃耆, huángqí), Atractylodes (白术, 白朮, báizhú), Bupleurum (柴胡, cháihú), Kudzuvine root (葛根, gégēn), Cinnamon (cinnamon twigs (桂枝, guìzhī) and cinnamon bark (肉桂, ròuguì)), Skullcap root (黃芩, huángqín), Coptis (黄连, 黃蓮, huánglián), Ginger (姜, 薑, jiāng), Poria (茯苓, fúlíng), Licorice (甘草, gāncǎo), Ephedra sinica (麻黄, 麻黃, máhuáng), Peony (white: 白芍, báisháo and reddish: 赤芍, chìsháo), Rehmannia (地黄, 地黃, dìhuáng), Rhubarb (大黄, 大黃, dàhuáng), and Salvia (丹参, 丹參, dānshēn).

Ginseng

Common name Chinese ginseng is the dry root of Panax ginseng, a perennial herbal plant. The use of ginseng (人参) is well over two thousand years old in Chinese medicine. Ginseng contains ginsenosides. The amount of ginsenosides in ginseng depends on how the plant was cultivated and the age of the root. Wild ginseng is rare and commands the highest prices on the market, but most ginseng on the market today is a reasonable price. Red Panax ginseng is the most popular form of ginseng and it is usually packaged as a liquid or tea. Ginseng comes in two kinds, red and white. The color of the ginseng depends on how it is processed. White ginseng is unprocessed and dries naturally. Red ginseng is processed with steam and is believed to be more effective. Native Americans have used American ginseng for dry coughs, constipation and fevers.

Ginseng is classified into restoratives for invigorating qi in TCM, which are sweet in taste and warm or neutral in nature, and can replenish the qi of the spleen and lungs. Ginseng is sweet and slightly bitter in taste and warm in nature, works with meridians: Lung, Spleen, Heart. Actions: remarkably enrich the vital energy, nourish the spleen and lungs, enrich saliva to relieve thirst, tranquilize the mind and improve the intelligence. Indications: deficiency of qi, prostration, general weakness, diabetes mellitus, impotence or frigidity, heart failure and cardiogenic shock, asthenia of the spleen and lung, anorexia, cough and shortness of breath, irritability, insomnia, cardiac palpitation, etc. Related formulas: 补中益气汤(丸)bu zhong yi qi tang, 生脉散sheng mai san, 归脾汤(丸)gui pi tang, 理中汤(丸)li zhong tang, 参附汤shen fu tang, 白虎加人参汤bai hu jia ren shen tang, 人参养荣汤(丸)ren shen yang rong tang, 四君子汤(丸)si jun zi tang, 人参蛤蚧散ren shen ge jie san, 炙甘草汤zhi gan cao tang, 麦门冬汤mai men dong tang, 温经汤wen jing tang, 小柴胡汤(丸)xiao chai hu tang, 柴胡加龙骨牡蛎汤chai hu jia long gu mu li tang, 人参健脾丸ren shen jian pi wan, 人参败毒散(丸)ren shen bai du san, 天王补心丸tian wang bu xin wan, 人参再造丸ren shen zai zao wan, 参茸龟鹿补肾shen rong gui lu bu shen, etc.

Species: Eleutherococcus senticosus(刺五加cì wǔ jiā,五加参).
Common Name: Siberian Ginseng.
Siberian ginseng, also known as eleuthero, is the dried root and rhizome of Eleutherococcus senticosus, a species of small, woody shrub in the family Araliaceae native to Northeastern Asia. It is classified into herbs for replenishing qi, has a history of use in Chinese medicine, where it is known as 刺五加(cì wǔ jiā). It is pungent and bitter in taste, warm in nature, with a meridian affinity to Spleen, Heart, Kidney. Actions: Tonify spleen and kidney, mildly tonify heart qi, promote blood circulation, induce tranquilization for the treatment of general weakness, anorexia, aching back and knees, and insomnia and dream-disturbed sleep. Related formulas: 五加酒wu jia jiu, 五加参片wu jia shen pian, 五加参精wu jia shen jing, 五皮饮wu pi yin, etc.

Species: Panax quinquefolius (西洋参xī yáng shēn,花旗参).
Common Name: American Ginseng.
American ginseng is the root of Panax quinquefolius, a herbaceous perennial plant in the ivy family, commonly used as Chinese or herbal medicine, the earliest recorded in Shen Nong's Herbal Classic (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing) 1,800 years ago. American ginseng is classified into restoratives for nourishing yin in TCM. It is bitter ans slightly sweet in taste and cold in nature, with a meridian affinity to Heart, Kidney, Lung. Actions: Tonify lung and spleen qi, tonify lung yin, cools fire from lung yin deficiency, generates fluids for treating hyperactivity of fire due to yin deficiency, asthma and cough with blood-tinged sputum, deficiency of both qi and yin in febrile diseases with manifestations of restlessness, thirst, deficiency of the body fluid, dryness in the mouth and tongue, lumbago, nocturnal emission and diabetes. Related formulas: 花旗参茶American Ginseng Tea, 愈消散yu xiao san.

Dang Shen

Dang Shen (党参, dǎngshēn), common name Codonopsis, is the dried roots of Codonopsis pilosula, a perennial herbal plant. Codonopsis is often used as a gentler and more economical substitute for Panax ginseng in traditional Chinese medicine, also known as poor man's ginseng. Actions: Invigorating the spleen and replenishing qi, promoting the production of body fluid and nourishing the blood. Indications: deficiency of qi in the middle-energizer with general debility, anorexia, lassitude and loose stools, and insufficiency of the lung qi, consumption of body fluid by febrile disease with symptoms of short breath, thirst, blood deficiency syndrome manifested as sallow complexion, dizziness and palpitation, etc. Related formulas: 四君子汤(丸)si jun zi tang, 补中益气汤(丸)bu zhong yi qi tang, 参苓白术散(片)shen ling bai zhu san, 参芪大补丸shen qi da bu wan, etc.

Wolfberry

Wolfberry (枸杞子) is grown in the Far East and is grown from shrubs with long vines. The shrubs are covered with small trumpet-shaped flowers, which turn into small, bright red berries. The berries are usually fresh and dried. Common name: wolfberry fruit, Lycium fruit.

Wolfberry is the number one anti oxidant herb/fruit in the latest scientific research. Wolfberry had five times the antioxidant power of prunes, ten times the power of oranges, twelve times the power of raisins, and fifty-five times the antioxidant power of cauliflower. Wolfberry had the highest known ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score for any whole food. Wolfberry is unparalleled in its ability to scavenge and squelch the superoxide free radical.

Wolfberry fruit is classified into restoratives for nourishing yin in TCM. Chinese medicinals in this group are sweet in taste, cold and moist in nature, work with meridians: Lung, Stomach, Liver, Kidney. They can replenish yin, enrich body fluid and moisten dryness to treat deficiency of yin. Wolfberry fruit is sweet in taste, neutral in nature, works with Meridians: Liver Lung, Kidney. Actions: Tonifies kidney and lung yin, tonifies liver blood, enriches essence, improves vision. Indications: deficiency of liver-yin and kidney-yin, marked by dizziness, blurred version, hypopsia, soreness of the loins and weakness of the knees, spermatorrhea, diabetes, phthisical cough due to yin deficiency, etc. Related formulas: 杞菊地黄丸qi ju di huang wan, 七宝美髯丹qi bao mei ran dan, 五子衍宗丸wu zi yan zong wan, 一贯煎yi guan jian, 右归丸you gui wan, 左归丸zuo gui wan, etc.

Dang Gui

Dang Gui (当归, Angelica sinensis or "female ginseng") is the root of Angelica sinensis, a perennial herbal plant of the Umbelliferae family. Common name: Chinese angelica root.

Chinese angelica is classified into restoratives for nourishing the blood. Chinese medicinals in this group are sweet in taste, warm and moist in nature, work with their meridian affiliates: Heart, Spleen, Liver and Kidney. Angelica root is sweet and pungent in taste, warm in nature, works with meridians: Liver, Heart and Spleen. Actions: replenish blood, promote blood circulation, regulate menstruation, relieve pain, moisten intestines and promote defecation. Indications: blood deficiency syndromes marked by irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, menorrhalgia, abdominal pain due to cold of deficiency, pain due to blood stasis, traumatic injuries, numbness, sores, carbuncles and other pyogenic skin infections, constipation, etc. Related formulas: 当归补血汤(丸)dang gui bu xue tang, 四物汤(丸)si wu tang, 胶艾汤jiao ai tang, 桃红四物汤tao hong si wu tang, 八珍汤(丸)ba zhen tang, 十全大补汤(丸)shi quan da bu tang, 当归芍药散dang gui shao yao san, 百合固金汤(丸)bai he gu jin tang, 归脾汤(丸)gui pi tang, 补中益气汤(丸)bu zhong yi qi tang, 独活寄生汤(丸)du huo ji sheng tang, xiao yao san, 一贯煎yi guan jian, 二仙汤(丸)er xian tang, 血府逐瘀汤(丸)xue fu zhu yu tang, 右归丸you gui wan.

Astragalus

Astragalus (黄耆) is the root of Astragalus membranaceus, a perennial herbal plant of the Leguminosae family. Common name: Astragalus root.

Astragalus root contains polysancharide, glucuronic acid, choline, betaine, flavones, amnio acids and seleninum, a rare element. It is used for immune deficiencies and allergies.

Astragalus root is classified into restoratives for invigorating qi in TCM. Astragalus root or Milkvetch root is sweet in taste and slightly warm in nature, works with meridians: Lung, Spleen. Actions: Raise yang qi to treat prolapse, tonify spleen and lung qi, tonify wei qi, increase urination, promote drainage of pus, generate flesh. Indications: deficiency of the spleen-qi and lung-qi syndrome of sinking of qi in the middle-energizer, proctoptosis due to to chronic diarrhea, spontaneous sweating due to exterior syndrome of deficiency, the non-rupture of carbuncles due to qi deficiency, edema, scanty urine, num extremities, arthralgia sores, hemiplegia, etc. Related formulas: 参芪大补丸shen qi da bu wan, 补中益气汤(丸)bu zhong yi qi tang, 归脾汤(丸)gui pi tang, 玉屏风散yu ping feng san, 黄芪汤huang qi tang, 十全大补汤(丸)shi quan da bu tang, 补阳还五汤bu yang huan wu tang, 当归补血汤(丸)dang gui bu xue tang, 再造丸zai zao wan, etc.

Atractylodes

Atractylodes (白术) is the tuber of Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz., a perennial herbal plant of the Compositae family. Common name: Atractylodes rhizome.

Atractylodes rhizome is classified into restoratives for invigorating qi in TCM. Atractylodes tuber is bitter and sweet in taste and warm in nature, works with meridians: Spleen and Stomach. It is an important herb for replenishing qi and strengthening the spleen in the treatment of digestive disorders and problems of moisture accumulation. Actions: Strong to dry dampness, strengthens the spleen, promotes discharge of water and controls sweating, expel wind-cold, clears damp-heat from lower jiao, improves vision, prevent abortion. Indications: poor appetite, diarrhea, abdominal distension, weakness and tiredness due to deficiency of spleen qi, and impairment of the digestion and metabolism. Related formulas: 四君子汤(丸)si jun zi tang, 理中汤(丸)li zhong tang, 苓桂术甘汤ling gui zhu gan tang, 五苓散wu ling san, 真武汤zhen wu tang, 八珍汤(丸)ba zhen tang, 半夏白术天麻汤(丸)bai xia bai zhu tian ma tang, 防风通圣散fang feng tong sheng san, 当归芍药散dang gui shao yao san, 逍遥散(丸)xiao yao san, 参苓白术散(片)shen ling bai zhu san, 藿香正气丸huo xiang zheng qi san, etc.

Bupleurum

Bupleurum (柴胡) is the root of Bupleurum chinense, a perennial herbal plants of the Umbelliferae family. The raw herb and the one fried with alcohol or vinegar are supplied for medication. Common name: Bupleurum root.

Bupleurum root is classified into exterior syndrome relieving herbs with pungent-cool property in TCM. Medicinals in this group are pungent in taste and cool in nature, but their dispersal effect is milder tan that of pungent-warm exterior syndrome relieving medicinals. This group of medicinals can be used to treat exterior syndromes of wind-heat type, with fever, chilliness, dryness in the throat, thirst, thin yellow tongue coating and floating rapid pulse. Bupleurum root is bitter and pungent in taste, and slightly cold in nature, works with meridians: Liver and Gallbladder, Pericardium, triple jiao. Actions: Treats alternating chills and fever, clears lesser yang disorders, relieves liver qi stagnation for alleviating hypochondriac and thoracic pains, raises yang qi (spleen qi) to treat prolapse, treats certain menstrual disorders. It is useful for the treatment of liver diseases, skin ailments, arthritis, menopausal syndrome, withdrawal from corticosteroid use, nephritis, stress-induced ulcers, and mental disorders. Related formulas: 补中益气汤(丸)bu zhong yi qi tang, 柴胡加龙骨牡蛎汤chai hu jia long gu mu li tang, 柴胡舒肝丸chai hu shu gan wan, 大柴胡汤(da chai hu tang), 小柴胡汤xiao chai hu tang, 葛根汤ge gen tang, 逍遥散(丸)xiao yao san, 血府逐瘀汤(丸)xue fu zhu yu tang, 人参败毒散(丸)ren shen bai du san, 龙胆泻肝汤(丸)long dan xie gan tang, 完带汤(丸)wan dai tang, etc.

Kudzu

Kudzu, called gé gēn (Chinese: 葛根) in China, is the root of Pueraria lobata, a perennial deciduous vine of the Leguminosae family. It has traditionally been used as a remedy for alcoholism and hangover in China. The root is used to prevent excessive consumption, while the flower was supposed to detoxify the liver and alleviate the symptoms afterwards. Common name: Pueraria root, Kudzuvine root.

Kudzuvine root is classified into exterior syndrome relieving herbs with pungent-cool property. Kudzuvine root is sweet and pungent in taste, and cool in nature, works with meridian: Spleen and Stomach. Sliced and dried Kudzu and the roasted preparation are used in clinical practice. Action: relieve exterior syndrome, expel external pathogens from the muscles, raise yang qi, promote eruption of measles, eliminate heat in the body and produce saliva. Indications: exterior syndrome due to invasion by exogenous wind and cold; exterior syndrome due to invasion by exogenous wind and heat; early stage of measles; damp-heat dysentery; diarrhea due to deficient spleen; thirst in febrile diseases or diabetes. Related formulas: 葛根汤ge gen tang, 升麻葛根汤sheng ma ge gen tang, 葛根解肌汤ge gen jie ji tang, 葛根黄芩黄连汤ge gen huang qin huang lian tang, 七味白术散qi wei bai zhu san, etc.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon comes in two varieties of Chinese medicinals: 桂枝, 肉桂 gui zhi and rou gui, both source from Cinnmomum cassia, a plant of the Lauraceae family.

Studies show that cinnamon reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes and the findings suggest that the inclusion of cinnamon in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Chinese Gui Zhi is the processed twigs of Cinnmomum cassia, common name Cinnamon twigs or Cassia twigs. It tastes pungent and sweet, and has a warm nature and an affinity for the heart, lung and urinary bladder meridians. Cinnamon twigs is classified into exterior syndrome relieving medicinals with pungent-warm property in TCM. Most medicinals of this kind are pungent in taste and warm in nature. Their main actions are to disperse wind and cold. They can be used to treat exterior syndromes of wind-cold type in excessive condition marked by such symptoms as aversion to coldness, fever, anhidrosis, headache, pantalgia, thin and white tongue coating, and floating tense pulse. Actions: Induce sweating for releasing the muscles in cases of wind-cold affliction, warms and unblocks channels to relieve various pains due to cold and congealing blood, unblocks yang qi of the chest, treats dysmenorrhea, stimulates menstrual discharge for treating amenorrhea. Related formulas: 桂枝汤gui zhi tang, 桂枝茯苓丸gui zhi fu ling wan, 桂枝附子汤gui zhi fu zi tang, 麻黄汤ma huang tang, 温经汤wen jing tang, 五苓散wu ling san, 炙甘草汤zhi gan cao tang, etc.

Chinese Rou Gui is the bark of the trunk or thick branches of Cinnmomum Cassia, common name Cinnamon bark or Cassia bark. It is classified into the interior warming Chinese medicinal herbs in TCM. Medicinals in this group are pungent in taste and hot in nature. They can warm the middle energizer and strengthen the spleen and stomach to improve digestion, expel cold pathogens and relieve pain. Cassia bark is pungent and sweet in taste and hot in nature, works with meridians: Heart, Kidney, Liver, Spleen. Actions: Tonifies kidney yang, leads fire back to its source, disperse cold, encourages generation of qi and blood, promotes blood circulation, alleviate pain due to cold, dysmenorrhea. Indications: insufficiency of kidney-yang with impotence, chilliness, soreness and coldness of loins and knees, frequent micturition, seminal emission, and enuresis; pain due to accumulation of cold and stagnation of qi or stasis of the blood; cold pain in epigastric abdomen; dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea; pudendal carbuncle and pyocutaneous disease of deficient-cold type. Related formulas: 金匮肾气丸jin gui shen qi wan, 独活寄生汤(丸)du huo ji sheng tang, 济生橘核丸ji sheng ju he wan, 十全大补汤(丸)shi quan da bu tang, 右归丸you gui wan, 左归丸zuo gui wan, etc.

Scutellaria

Scutellaria (黄芩) is the dried root of Scutellaria baicalensis, which is sliced after being thoroughly steamed or moistened with boiling water. Common name: Skullcap root, Scutellaria root has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support the immune system. In related research, Baicalein, a major flavonoid in Scutellaria was shown to support cardiovascular health. Research shows that Scutellaria root modulates inflammatory activity to inhibit nitric oxide (NO), cytokine, chemokine and growth factor production in macrophages. Scutellaria has also been shown to inhibit histamine and leukotriene release.

Skullcap root is classified into Chinese medicinal herbs for eliminating heat and dampness in TCM. Herbs in this group can clear away heat and eliminate dampness to treat damp-heat syndromes. Accumulation of damp-heat in the intestines and stomach may cause diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and anal fistula. Accumulation of damp-heat in the liver and gallbladder may cause hypochondriac distending pain, jaundice and a bitter taste in the mouth. Accumulation of damp-heat in the lower energizer may cause stranguria and profuse discharge of leukorrhea. Skullcap root is bitter in taste and cold in nature, with a meridian affinity to the lungs, gallbladder, stomach and large intestine. Actions: Clear away heat and remove dampness, purge the sthenic fire and remove toxic substances, cool blood and stop bleeding to prevent miscarriage. Indications: seasonal febrile diseases of dampness type, respiratory tract infection, viral hepatitis, jaundice, acute bacillary dysentery and stranguria of damp-heat type; cough due to heat in the lungs; hemorrhage due to heat in the blood; threatened abortion, etc. Related formulas: 银黄口服液yin huang kou fu ye, 小柴胡汤丸xiao chai hu tang wan, 清气化痰丸qing qi hua tan wan, 清肺抑火片qing fei yi huo pian, 片仔癀茵胆平肝pian zi huang yin dan pin gan, 利胆片li dan pian, 三黄片san huang pian, 导赤片dao chi pian, etc.

Coptis

Coptis (黄莲) is the dried tuber of Coptis chinensis, common name Coptis rhizome.

Coptis rhizome is classified into Chinese medicinal herbs for eliminating heat and dampness in TCM. Coptis rhizome is bitter in taste, one of the bitterest herbs used in Chinese medicine, and cold in nature, with a meridian to the heart, liver, stomach and large intestine. Stomach. Actions: Clears heat and drains damp, drains fire (especially from heart and stomach), eliminates toxic substances. Indications: diarrhea, bacillary dysentery, and vomiting caused by damp-heat pathogens in the stomach and intestines; local pyogenic infection and burns; anxiety and insomnia; arrhythmia; hypertension; peptic ulcers and diabetes mellitus. Related formulas: 半夏泻心汤ban xia xie xin tang, 黄连解毒汤(丸)huang lian jie du tang, 健脾丸jian pi wan, 三黄片san huang pian, 黄连上清片huang lian shang qing pian, etc.

Ginger

Ginger (干姜, 乾薑) is the dry tuber of Zingiber officinale, a herb and spice that is used in Chinese cuisine (fresh ginger rhizome), common name Dry Ginger Rhizome.

Dry Ginger Rhizome is is classified into the interior warming Chinese medicinal herbs in TCM. Dry ginger is pungent in taste and hot in nature, with a meridian affinity to Heart, Lung, Spleen, Stomach. Actions: Warms the spleen and stomach, restores devastated yang, warms the lung to transform thin mucus, warms and unblocks channels. Indications: spleen-cold and stomach-cold syndromes whether they are asthenia or sthenia, nausea, diarrhea; syndrome of yang exhaustion; cold accumulation in the lung. Related formulas: 理中丸li zhong wan, 小青龙汤(丸)xiao qing long tang, etc.

Poria

Poria (茯苓, fúlíng) is the dry sclerotium of Poria coccos (Schw.) Wolf of the Polyporaceae family, parasitized on the roots of pine trees.

Poria is classified into Chinese medicinal herbs for discharging water and eliminating dampness in TCM. Herbs in this group are usually used to treat inhibition of urination, edema, stranguria, accumulation of phlegm, and wet sores, caused by accumulation of water and dampness. Poria is sweet or bland in taste and neutral in nature, with a meridian affinity for the heart, spleen and kidneys. Actions: Promote diuresis to resolve dampness from the lower energizer, invigorate the spleen and tranquilize the mind. Indications: inhibition of urination, edema, and accumulation of rheum. Poria is an important diuretic medicinal, because it can produce a gentle diuretic effect without any side effect to damage qi. Poria is often prescribed with umbellate atractylodes tuber (bai zhu) to strengthen spleen and promote discharge of water. Related formulas: 归脾汤(丸)gui pi tang, 苓桂术甘汤ling gui zhu gan tang, 四君子汤(丸)si jun zi tang, 五苓散wu ling san,真武汤zhen wu tang, etc.

Licorice

Licorice (甘草) is the root of Glycyrrhiza inflata or Glycyrrhiza glabra, a perennial herbal plant of the Leguminosae family. Common name: Licorice root.

Licorice root is classified into herbs for invigorating qi in TCM. It is sweet in taste and neutral in nature, with a meridian affinity for all 12 channels, but specially to Heart, Lung, Spleen and Stomach. Actions: Tonify spleen qi, moisten lung for dry cough, clears heat and fire toxicity, tonifies heart qi to regulate pulse, alleviates spasmodic pain, antidote for toxicity, moderates the effects of harsh herbs (its nickname "guo lao" means expert negotiator). Indications: syndromes of deficiency of heart-qi, palpitation, spontaneous sweating, deficiency of spleen-qi, fatigue, poor appetite, loose stool, syndromes of cough and dyspnea, pyocutaneous disease, sore throat, drug and food poisoning, spasm, pain of epigastric abdomen and limbs. Related formulas: 炙甘草汤zhi gan cao tang, 四君子汤(丸)si jun zi tang, 麻杏石甘汤ma xing shi gan tang, 八正散ba zheng san, 苏子降气汤(丸)su zi jiang qi tang, 温胆汤wen dan tang, 桑菊饮sang ju yin, 二陈汤(丸)er chen tang, 桔梗汤(丸)jie geng tang, 小建中汤(丸)xiao jian zhong tang, 芍药甘草汤(丸)shao yao gan cao tang, etc.

Mahuang

Mahuang (麻黄) is the processed twigs or fine stems of Ephedra sinica Stapf, common name Ephedra, which is often used together with guizhi in the Mahuang Decoction, together with xingren and gan cao in the San-ao Decoction.

Mahuang is classified into exterior syndrome relieving herbs with pungent warm property in TCM. It tastes pungent and slightly bitter, and has a warm nature and affinity to the lung and urinary bladder meridians. Actions: Induce sweating and release exterior for wind-cold invasion with no sweating, promotes urination, move lung qi for wheezing, cough or asthma, and induces diuresis for relieving edema caused by wind. Indications: wind-cold type of exterior syndrome, cough and asthma due to invasion by exogenous wind and cold, edema with exterior syndrome. Related formulas: 麻黄汤ma huang tang, 三拗汤san ao tang, 小青龙汤(丸)xiao qing long tang, 麻黄杏仁石膏甘草汤ma huang xing ren gan cao shi gao tang, etc.

Peony

Peony root comes in two varieties of Chinese medicinals: 白芍 and 赤芍, bai shao (white) and chi shao (red), both source is the root of Paeonia lactiflora, a perennial herbal plant of the Ranunculaceae family. Common name: white peony root, red peony root.

White peony root is classified into herbs for nourishing the blood in TCM. It is bitter and sour in taste, and slightly cold in nature, with a meridian affinity for the liver and spleen. Actions: Tonifies liver blood, calms liver yang, alleviates headache flank or abdominal pain from liver qi stagnation or liver and spleen disharmony, preserves yin and adjusts nutritive and protective levels, arrests excessive sweating, regulates menstruation for treating menstrual disorders. Indications: blood deficiency, irregular menstruation, dysmenorrha and metrorrhagia and metrostaxis, spontaneous perspiration due to low body resistance and imbalance between yingqi and weiqi, and night sweat due to yin deficiency, insufficiency of liver-yin and disharmony of liver-qi, pain in the chest and hypochondrium, muscular spasm and pain of extremities, headache and dizziness due to hyperactivity of liver-yang. Related formulas: 八珍汤(丸)ba zhen tang, 百合固金(汤)丸bai he gu jin tang, 四物汤(丸)si wu tang, 柴胡舒甘散chai hu shu gan san, 芍药甘草汤(丸)shao yao gan cao tang, 逍遥散xiao yao san, 温经汤wen jing tang, 真武汤zhen wu tang, etc.

Red peony root is classified into heat clearing and blood cooling Chinese medicinal herbs in TCM. Herbs in this group are mostly sweet and bitter in taste and cold in nature, and attributive to xuefen, so they can clear away heat from xuefen. They are indicated for seasonal febrile disease involving yingfen and xuefen manifested as constantly high fever, crimson tongue, unconsciousness and delirum, macules with bleeding and internal injury diseases such as hematemesis, epistaxis caused by blood heat. Red peony root is bitter in taste, slightly cold in nature, and attributive to the liver meridian. Actions: Clears heat, cools blood, invigorates blood and dispel stasis to treat irregular menses, dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhea, abdominal pain, and fixed abdominal masses, traumatic injuries, boils and sores. Indications: febrile diseases in which exogenous pathogenic heat enters into the nutritive and blood levels manifested as maculopapule, vomiting with blood, epistaxis, and deep red tongue; blood stagnation manifested as dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, acute inflammation with red swelling and pain from external injury; boils, carbuncles and furuncles. Related formulas: 补阳还五汤bu yang huan wu tang, 升麻葛根汤sheng ma ge gen tang, 血府逐瘀汤xue fu zhu yu tang, 再造丸zai zao wan, etc.

Rehmannia

Rehmannia root (地黄) comes in two varieties of Chinese medicinals: 生地黄and 熟地黄, fresh rehmannia root and prepared rehmannia root, both source is the root of Rehmannia glutinosa.

Fresh rehmannia root is classified into heat clearing and blood cooling Chinese medicinal herbs in TCM. It is sweet and bitter in taste and cold in nature, with a meridian affinity for the heart, liver and kidney. Actions: Clear heat, cool blood, nourish yin, generate fluids for the treatment of febrile diseases at the nutrient and blood stages, bleeding due to blood heat, and treats wasting and thirsting disorder in cases of diabetes. Related formulas: 百合固金丸bai he gu jin wan, 导赤散dao chi san, 独活寄生汤(丸)du huo ji sheng tang, 金匮肾气丸jin gui shen qi wan, 胶艾汤jiao ai tang, 九味羌活汤(丸)jiu wei qiang huo tang, 龙胆泻肝丸long dan xie gan wan, 润肠丸run chang wan, 血府逐瘀汤xue fu zhu yu tang, 养阴清肺汤yang yin qing fei tang, 一贯煎yi guan jian, 炙甘草汤zhi gan cao tang. etc.

Prepared rehmannia root is classified into restoratives for nourishing the blood in TCM. It is sweet in taste and slightly warm in nature, with a meridian affinity for the liver and kidney. Actions: Enrich the blood and nourish yin, and supplement the essence. Indications: blood deficiency manifested as sallow complexion, dizziness, palpitation, irregular menstruation and metrorrhagia and metrostaxis; deficiency of liver-yin and kidney-yin manifested as hectic fever, night sweat, emission and diabetes; insufficiency of the essence and blood resulting in soreness of loins and knees, dizziness, tinnitus, deafness, poor vision, premature gray hair, etc. Related formulas: 四物汤(丸)si wu tang, 六味地黄丸liu wei di huang wan, 大补阴丸da bu yin wan. 杞菊地黄丸qi ju di huang wan, ba zhen tang,百合固金丸 bai he gu jin tang, 右归丸you gui wan, 左归丸zuo gui wan, 十全大补汤(丸)shi quan da bu tang, 虎潜丸hu qian wan, etc.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb (大黄) is the root or tuber of Rheum palmatum L., R. tanguticum Maxim. ex Balf. or R. officinale Baill. of the perennial herbal plants. Common name: Rhubarb root and rhizome.

Rhubarb is classified into purgative herbs in TCM. Medicinal herbs in this category are bitter in taste and cold in nature, with a strong purgative effect to promote bowel movement and purge fire pathogens for treating constipation and evacuating hard stool due to accumulation of excessive heat pathogens. Qi-circulation promoting herbs are often used in combination to enhance the effect of purgative herbs in removing stagnation. Rhubarb is bitter in taste and cold in nature, with a meridian affinity for the spleen, stomach, large intestine, liver and heart. Actions: Purge accumulation, cool blood, invigorate blood, drain damp-heat. Indications: stagnation in the passway of the intestine and obstruction of the bowels, the syndrome of stagnation with constipation, constipation due to stagnation of heat; dysentery due to stagnation; headache, red eyes, sore throat and swollen painful gums, and oral ulcer, etc. caused by flaring of fire; bleeding due to heat in the blood; boils, carbuncles and furuncles; stagnation of blood manifested as amenorrhea, postpartum retention of lochia, postpartum abdominal pain, abdominal masses and traumatic injury; jaundice and stranguria caused by damp-heat pathogen. Related formulas: 柴胡加龙骨牡蛎汤chai hu jia long gu mu li tang, 大黄牡丹da huang mu dan tang, 黄连上清片huang lian shang qing pian, 润肠丸run chang wan, 三黄片san huang pian, 桃仁承气汤tao ren cheng qi tang, etc.

Danshen

Danshen (丹参) is the the root and rhizome of Salvia miltiorrhiza, a perennial herbal plant of the Labiatae family. Common name: Salvia root, red sage root.

Salvia root is classified into blood circulation promoting and blood stasis removing medicinals in TCM. Salvia root is bitter in taste and slightly cold in nature, with a meridian affinity for Heart, Pericardium, Liver. Actions: Invigorate blood, tonify blood, promote blood circulation and remove blood stasis for the treatment of dysmenorrhea, irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, abdominal masses due to stagnation of blood, as well as ischemic apoplexy and coronary heart disease, clear heat from the blood for treating boils and sores, and soothe irritability for treating palpitation and insomnia. Related formulas: 丹参饮dan shen yin, 复方丹参片fu fang dan shen pian, 天王补心丸tian wang bu xin wan, etc.


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