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Herbology

 
Chinese herbology is the medicinal art of formulating combinations of herbs to treat maladies. This art form is used in conjunction with acupuncture and dietary changes in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Herbal formulas may be concocted together to either be formed into teas or ground and placed into pill form.
 
Chinese herbology can be found going back thousands of years in history. Documentation has been discovered on Chinese medicine and herbs that dates back as far as 200 B.C.  One of the earliest documented works is Shen Nong’s  The Classic of Material Medica which was compiled around 206 B.C. This work included over 300 healing substances and over 250 herbs. Some of these ancient texts are still referenced today for diagnosis and treatment concerning herbal formulas and acupuncture therapy.
 
The Chinese look at disease and malady in a totally different way than western medicine. Treatment for disease is not structured for that particular malady. Instead, herbal concoctions are prepared to combat the classification of the malady that is concerning the person presenting for treatment.

In early Chinese history, herbs were listed in three levels.
1. Low level herbs:  Toxic Substances providing drastic action
2. Mid level: Medicinal and psychological effects
3. Higher level: Used for spiritual and health betterment

Today herbs are classified by several different methods. The way they are used depends on the method of classification they fall under. Diseases or illnesses are classified as well and will fall under some of the following classifications.

The Four Natures

The four natures or energies are listed as hot, warm, cold and cool. These work in conjunction with yin/yang energies and work to remove energy imbalances. For example, if a patient presents with a disease or malady that is considered cold that needs to be removed or purged, they will be prescribed herbs that are of a hot or of a yang nature.

The Five Tastes

The five tastes are bitter, sweet, salty, pungent, and sour. Each of these tastes perform differently and each has its own function.  Herbs that are of a pungent taste work to revitalize the Qi or life giving energy, and improve the blood. Sweet herbs work to bring body systems into a more harmonious balance. Some of the sweet tasting herbs can also help promote diuresis. Bitter tasting herbs will combat problems that contain heat. Sour tasting herbs help to bring different components or organs of the body together and work as an astringent. While salty tasting herbs work to purge the bowels and soften hard masses.

The practitioner takes all of these things into consideration when preparing a herbal concoction for a patient. They take a detailed history and make several assessments including pulse rates, examination of the tongue and may examine the patients urine to determine an individualized complex herbal treatment for their patient.

 
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