Chinese herbal medicine is part of a larger healing system calledTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which also includes acupuncture, massage dietary advice and exercise. TCM is a popular method of treatment, with nearly three million British people visiting TCM practitioners every year. The underlying principles of TCM are very different from traditional Western notions about health, illness and the workings of the body. Chinese herbs are prescribed to normalise imbalanced energy, or Qi (pronounced 'chee'), that runs through invisible meridians in the body. Whether or not the philosophy is believed, studies have shown Chinese herbal medicines to be successful in treating a range of disorders, particularly gynaecological and gastrointestinal disorder.
Every herb has its own properties which include its energy, its flavour, its movement and its related meridians to which it connects too. The for types of energies are cold, cool, warm and hot. Usually cold or cool herbs will treat fever, thirst, sore throat and general heat diseases. Hot or warm herbs will treat cold sensation in the limbs, cold pain and general cold diseases. The five flavours or herbs are pungent, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Pungent herbs are generally used to induce perspiration and promote circulation of both blood and Qi.
These herbs are usually used for superficial disorders. Sweet Herbs have 3 main functions; nourishing deficiency, harmonizing other herbs or reduce toxicity, relieve pain and slow the progression of acute diseases. Sour Herbs also have 3 functions; constrict, obstruct and solidify. These herbs are good to stop perspiration, stop diarrhea, stop seminal emission and stop leucorrhea. Salty herbs soften hardness, lubricate intestines and drain downward.
These herbs are used to treat hard stool with constipation or hard swellings as in diseases like goitre. Bitter herbs induce bowel movements, reduce fevers and hot sensations, re direct rebellious Qi, dry dampness and clear heat. They can also nourish the kidneys and are used to treat damp diseases.