Course: Introduction to Chinese Herbs Date: May 4, 2007 Class #: 3

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1 Course: Introduction to Chinese Herbs Date: May 4, 2007 Class #: 3 Properties of Herbs Properties include the temperatures, flavors, and directions of movement. Refer to Zheng Zeng s main handout for the summary of stuff you need to know for the test and the benchmarks. This document is included for full discussion and understanding. 1) Temperature a) Hot or Warm Herbs Used for Yin/Cold syndromes which can be Yang Qi deficiency causing empty cold or Yin excesses causing full cold. Patients tend to feel cold. There s not enough heat to consume the body fluids so there is no thirst. They will often have a pale tongue indicating insufficient heat to promote circulation. It will also be moist indicating too much liquid. The pulse is generally slow due to the cold making it sluggish. If there is cold with a clear nasal discharge and no fever, it s probably wind/cold invasion. Herbs used would include: i) Yin yang huo (tonify the kidney yang) ii) Rou gui iii) Ban xia (expels clear phlegm) iv) Ma huang (in China only can t get it here good for severe wind-cold invasion such as coughing or asthma) b) Cold or Cool Herbs Many of these taste better than the hot herbs. Use them for Yang Syndromes such as Yin deficiency, Yang excess, and excess pathogenic heat. Too much of them, however, will suppress the appetite. Yin deficiencies manifest as fever in the afternoons, 5 palm heat, hot bones, night sweats, etc. Sound like menopause? It is. Give cool herbs around peri-menopause. Yang excesses present as high fever, high thirst with desire for cold drinks, sweating, and a fast pulse. Herbs would include i) Bo he (peppermint) ii) Xia ju cao iii) Huang bai iv) Mai dong (given as tea. Nourishes the Yin, good for the throat and thirst) c) Neutral Herbs Used for both Yin and Yang Syndromes. Example: Liver Qi Stagnation without heat. Examples: i) Xiang fu Page 1 of 6

2 ii) Fu Ling (drains damp) 2) The Five Flavors Actually, there are more than 5, but this matches the 5 Elements. Flavor, you should know, is according to function not taste per se. Some of the herbs in the text are not 100% accurate according to Zheng Zeng. a) Sour Taste Function: stabilize and bind. Holds the body liquids in, reducing or preventing the loss of body liquids and thus energy. Wu Wei Zi is an example of this stops abnormal sweating and calms the Shen keeping the body s essence in. b) Bitter Many herbs taste way bitter. Functions of bitter herbs: i) Sedate, clear heat, purge fire. Xia Ku Cao and Zhi Zi are examples of herbs that clear heat and irritation. ii) Drain downwards Use da huang, pi pa ye, and xing ren to descend rebellious qi. Pi pa ye descends the fire flaring up from the Lung and Stomach. Xing ren descends fire from the Lung. The 2 are very similar and counter fire flaring. iii) Dry dampness Especially damp heat these really taste horrid! Something to look forward to isn t it?! Examples: Huang Qin clears Lung heat, bronchitis, polyps, colitis, strong smelling diarrhea. Huang Lian also can be used for bacterial infectons and leaves native bacteria intact. Huang Bai Long Dan Cao very bitter, good for Liver/gallbladder channels. Clears heat of ear infections, herpes, eczema, depression with Liver fire (anger, short temper) Ku Shen c) Sweet Flavor i) Tonifies Deficiencies (of Qi, Blood, Yin) Examples: gou qi zi (called Goji berries in English), da zao (Chinese date), huang qi (nasty flavor, not really edible). You can add the first 2 to rice, cook overnight slowly, then add sweetener. Nourishes the blood. ii) Harmonizes herbs within a formula Gan cao (licorice) for instance can reduce herb toxicity and make it all taste better. Beware a large dose can cause damp retention. iii) Relieve spasms and pain Yi tang for instance, which is very sweet. It nourishes the middle jiao and the Blood. It can stop cramps due to deficienct reasons (like blood deficiency). Shao yan gan cao tang is a formula which helps with calf and muscle cramps. d) Acrid/Pungent i) Relieves the exterior ii) Disperses outward This is almost the same as relieving the exterior and is also for exterior symptoms. Expel Page 2 of 6

3 wind heat (jing jie, fang feng, qiang huo, sheng jiang, xin yi hua, and cang er zi for examples) and wind-cold. iii) Moves Qi and Blood e) Salty i) Purge excess Mang Xiao for instance is a purgative, laxative and stool softener ii) Softens hardness Kun bu softens nodules and ovarian cysts. Bie jia softens blood stasis type nodules and enlarged lymph nodes. iii) Facilitate entrance to the Kidney Du zhong is an example. In clinic use salt fried herbs to tonify the Kidney. f) Bland i) Promote urination ii) Treat edema and UTI Yi yi ren for example: edema, Spleen xu, water retention, weight loss, resolve damp. But not for pregnant women as it can case miscarriage. g) Astringent The function is not related to the taste, remember. Does the same thing as sour. i) Stabilize and bind ii) Reduce and prevent the loss of body liquids Haii piao xiao stops bleeding, vaginal discharges, nocturnal emissions, and stomach acid secretion. This is for deficiency conditions, not excesses such as heat or pathogens. This holds stuff inside and you don t want to hang on to an excess which is not supposed to be kept! 3) Direction of Movement There are 2 basic categories of movement when you think about what each of these does: there s an upward and outward movement and there s an inward and downward movement. It makes sense that the upward and outward would float stuff out of the body and onto the surface where it can be expelled from the body. Inward and downward pull stuff from in the body to the center and purge it away out the lower orifices. This makes sense too: flowers and leaves which when growing go up and outward are considered to have the same movement in the body: upward, outward, send stuff to the surface. Very Yang, which is also very upward, outward, send to the surface stuff. Minerals and shells (heavy sinking stuff), seeds and fruits (both very Yin which is in and down by nature) are all heavier and are considered to have in inward, downward, and purging action in the body. So. If you look at the handout from Zheng Zeng, you ll see 4 Chinese words for movement: sheng, fu, chen, jiang. Sheng and Fu are upward, outward, send to surface. Chen and Jiang and inward, purging and downward. Page 3 of 6

4 a) Sheng In English this means rise or lift. The movement is upward, which makes sense given the English translation! i) Tastes that are associated with Sheng/rise/lift: Pungent, sweet and bland. That takes rote memorization. Sorry. No cute way to remember that. ii) Plant parts for Sheng/rise/lift - the parts that grow upward: Leaves and flowers. iii) Actions: Promote sweating, disperse cold, expel wind, raise yang, raise and keep organs in position, induce vomiting. All of these are upward and out of the body actions. They also all relieve exterior symptoms. b) Fu In English this means float. The movement is outward and to the surface, just like a pool toy you take underwater then release out of the water and to the surface of it. i) Tastes associated with fu/float: Just like sheng/rise/lift pungent, sweet, and bland ii) Plant parts for fu/float are the same as sheng/rise/lift: Flowers and leaves iii) Actions: again, same as for sheng/rise/lift Promote sweating, disperse cold, expel wind, raise yang, raise/keep organs in position, induce vomiting. c) Chen Chen means sink. The movement is inward and purging away, kind of like pulling the drain plug from the bathtub. i) Tastes associated with chen/sink Sour, bitter and salty ii) Herb types or plant parts associated with chen/sink Minerals, shells, fruit, seeds iii) Actions of chen/sink: Redirects rebellious Qi, calms wheezing, anchors ascending Yang, calms the Shen, promotes urination and purging, stops sweating, removes food stagnation, clears heat. d) Jiang Jiang means to fall or lower, so it makes sense that the movement is downward. i) Tastes associated with jiang/fall/lower Sour, bitter, salty ii) Herb types or plant parts associated with jiang/fall/lower Minerals, shells, seeds, fruits iii) Actions of jiang/fall/lower Redirects rebellious Qi, calms wheezing, anchors ascending Yang, calms Shen, promotes urination and purging, stops sweating, removes food stagnation, clears heat. Page 4 of 6

5 Preparation of Herbs This refers not so much to what you do for your patient as a practitioner, but to what the herb marketers do for you before you even get the herbs. Look at Zheng Zeng s handout, page 2 on the one that s on my website. There are several pre-preparation methods which modify the actions of herbs. All of these words indicating preparation method are added to the beginning of an herb s name except for the last one, Tan, which goes at the end of the herb name. 1) Duan This a calcinated or calcified version of an herb which increases the astringency of the herb. Mu li, for example is oyster shell. When calcified or calcinated it becomes duan mu li. 2) Chao Dry fried. Increases the tonification properties of the herb. Bai zhu tonifies, but chao bai zhu increases the tonification. Suan zao ren calms the Shen, but chao suan zao ren both calms Shen and nourishes/tonifies the blood. 3) Zhi This is a generic term meaning an herb has been fried with some substance, usually honey, vinegar, salt, or alcohol. a) Mu Zhi This is honey-fried. Since honey moistens, this preparation method does 2 things: i) increases tonification ii) moistens b) Cu Zhi Vinegar fried. i) Increases astringency ii) Invigorates blood (increases blood flow) iii) Relieves pain iv) Guides to the Liver channel c) Jiang Zhi Ginger juice fried i) Reduces tendency of bitter and cold to affect the stomach ii) Increase dispersing (ginger tends to relieve exterior symptoms of wind and cold) d) Jiu Zhi This is an alcohol fried preparation. This has 3 effects: i) Clears blockages ii) Expels wind more so with dampness iii) Alleviates pain Page 5 of 6

6 e) Yan Zhi This is a salt-fried herb giving the following 2 additional effects to the herb i) Guides downward ii) Guides to the Kidney channel 4) Tan This preparation method involves frying the herb dry until it chars. This keeps all of the herbs functions, but adds a stop bleeding action. Again, this is the only one of the words that is added to the end of the herb name rather than to the beginning. There s usually a quiz on week 4 in which you need to know: Part names of plants, cooking methods and decocting instructions, Chinese names of the herb examples that are highlighted, temperatures of herbs, flavors, directions, movements, and times when you should take herbs. Zheng Zhen usually only puts the bold and blue stuff from her handouts and overheads on the tests. This quiz is way easier than the next 2 will be! Page 6 of 6

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