Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese Herbal medicine refers to using plant seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, flowers, minerals, and also fungal, animal and bee products, for medicinal purposes.
The use of Chinese herbs is a very popular tradition. People around the world have used hundreds to thousands of plants for treatment of ailments since prehistoric times.
There are over three hundred herbs that are commonly being used today that have a history that goes back at least 2,000 years.
The Chinese herbs are prepared in a number of ways. Raw herbs can be boiled and taken as a tea or decoction. Prepared Chinese herbs are sold as pills, tablets and capsules. Another preparation method is the extract form or tinctures in which small doses are taken from a dropper.
Herbs are regarded as having actions in terms of their energies and affecting the energies of the body. This medicine is a powerful method to help the body improving its functions. Herbs can help the individual to rid of diseased while through the healing process they nourish the organs and balance them energetically, promoting the balance of yin and yang, heat and cold, access and deficiency in the body. Herbs can also strengthen the immune system and assist in fighting colds and flu, sinus problems, ear infections, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, depression, insomnia, digestive disorders, fatigue syndrome, and quitting smoking.
The Five Tastes According to the Elements
The five tastes according to the elements are pungent (acrid), sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Each taste has a different set of functions and characteristics and is associated with different organ pairings. Both herbs and foods are categorized by the five flavors and are associated with the specific flavor functions.
Pungent herbs are used with the intention that they might induce sweating and direct and vitalize Qi and blood. This flavor is associated with the lung and large intestine organs. Green onion and chives are examples of pungent foods.
Sweet-tasting herbs are thought to strengthen or harmonize bodily systems. Some sweet-tasting herbs also exhibit a bland taste, which helps drain dampness through diuresis. According to Chinese medical theory sweet flavor acts on the spleen and stomach. Sugar and bananas are considered a sweet food.
The Sour flavor is associated with the liver and gallbladder and considered astringent. Lemons and plums would be examples of sour foods.
Bitter taste is thought to drain heat, purge through the bowels, and get rid of dampness by the action of drying. The flavor is associated with the heart and small intestine. Coffee and lettuce are examples of foods in the bitter category.
Salty tastes are thought to soften hard masses as well as purge and open the bowels. This flavor is associated with the kidneys and bladder. Examples of salty foods are sea vegetables and table salt.