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Chinese Herbal Meds



In Europe, Asia and Africa there is an increasing use of standardized herbal medicines being prescribed alongside or in place of chemical drugs. In order to do this legally, the herbal medicines are being standardized mainly by firms in Germany and Switzerland and literature based on clinical trials is finding its way into World Health Organization (WHO) Monographs and the various European Official and professional Herbal Society Documents, including the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) Monographs and most important of all, the German Commission E (Com. E) Monographs. At this time, not all key traditional uses have been tested sufficiently to give "clear-cut" answers - does it work or doesn't it. Please remember herbs are being used in some countries as "serious medicines", not just as condiments, hence, they have doses, side efffects, contra-indications, quality checks, etc. Too many herbal teas don't accomplish much, because, in reality, they are just for fun!!! My brother- in-law was never cured nor got relief for his migraines, because he just wanted a "dash" of the appropriate herb (feverfew) in his salads!

Acantopanax senticosus - Ci Wu Jia

The properties of this plant are akin to the better known Ginseng family. The root part of this plant is considered to contain elutherosides as its main active agent. These are thought to act as tonic (reinforce Qi), calm the nerves and invigorate the kidneys and the spleen.

Achyranthes root, mainly A. alba - Niu Xi or Huan Niu Xi

Traditionally the roots of this plant are thought to be a tonic for the liver and kidneys and aid aching joints of the knees, legs and lower back. It is also thought to act on the uterus. (In India A. aspera roots are used to relieve pain from scorpion bites.)

Alisma plantago (Water Plantain) - Ze Xie

Alisma roots have been used to treat diseases of the bladder and the urinary tract. In Chinese medicine they are used as a diuretic and to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Anemarrhena asphodeloides - Zhi Mu

The rhizomes of this plant are used in Chinese medicine to treat inflammations. Research has shown that this plant contains cortisone-like effects.

Angelica dahuricae - Bai Zhi

In China the root of this plant is used for headaches and treat problems of the nasal and sinus passages.

Angelica Sinensis (Chinese Angelica) - Dong Quai

In China this herb is called the "woman's herb". It has been used as tea for irregular or painful menstruation and PMS (premenstrual) complaints.

Traditionally in China it has been used for diabetes, hypertension, angina pectoris and nephritis.

In Europe it has been used for infant colic and adult heartburn.

Clinical trials have shown it to be an antibacterial and an antifungal agent, as well as an immunostimulant and to greatly reduce the incidence of arrhythmias.

Daily Doses:
SEEDS 1 teaspoon of seeds per cup of boiling water. 1-2 cups per day
ROOT 1 tablespoon per 1.5 pints water boiled 1/2 hour. 1-2 cups drunk slowly, per day
HERB 1/2 ounce of herb per 1 pint of boiling water poured over it, steep 5-20 minutes. 1-2 cups per day.

Codonopsis root - Deng Shen/Dang Shen/Tang Shen

In Chinese medicine considered to be a tonic and aphrodisiac, reinforcing and increasing the strength of the lungs (the Qi). Sometimes called the poor man's Ginseng.

Cuscuta chinensis (Dodder seeds) - Tu Si Zi

In China these seeds are thought to revitalize the liver and kidneys, help ocular vision, and increase and nourish energy. These seeds can act as a laxative and have some anti-inflammatory properties.

Dioscorea batatas (Chinese Yam) - Shan Yao

In Chinese medicine it is used as tonic for the lungs (Yin, Yang and Qi), a tonic for the digestive system, stomach and spleen and to correct symtoms of fatigue. Found to lower blood sugar and considered to be an anti-aging drug when combined with Niu Xi, Shu Di and Ju Hua.

Eclipta prostrata - Han Lian Cao

In China this herb is thought to have a strongly protective effect on the liver and also reduce inflammations, It is prized as a hair tonic, improving it is said, the color and quantity and quality of ones hair.

Ephedra sinica - Ma Haung

Ephedra has been found to promote weight loss due to its thermogenic and fat metabolizing effects. It may reduce the desire for food, but can also cause sleeplessness. Traditionally in China it is used to increase energy and endurance. Ephedra should NOT be used with MAO (Monoamine Oxidase) inhibitors.
Approved by the German commission E (but considered addictive). Adult dose 15-30 mg total alkaloid calculated as ephedrine.

NOTE WELL - There is a very high potential for misuse of this drug. Dosage is all important.

Epimedium sagittatum (Licentious Goat Weed or Horny Goat Weed) - Yin Yang Huo

In clinical trials this herb has been found to lower blood lipids. Traditionally in Chinese medicine it is used as a sexual tonic and as a tonic for the liver and kidneys.

Eucommia ulmoides - Tu Chung/Du Zhong

The bark of this plant is used in China as a tonic for the liver and kidneys.

Euryale ferox (Foxnut seed) - Qian Shi

This is a large water plant. The seeds which contain a large amount of starch are eaten in some parts of Japan. In China the seeds are used as a kidney tonic, to stop diarrhea, arrest seminal and vaginal discharges caused by infections and ease neuralgia.

Ligustrum lucidum (Privet fruit) - Nu Shen Zi

In Chinese medicine used with the Eclipta prostrata herb (Han Lian Cao) as a tonic and to revitalize the liver and kidneys, improve eyesight and promote the growth of thick black hair.

Lycium chinense (Chinese Wolfberry) - Di Gu Pi

The root bark may reduce blood pressure, while in Chinese medicine it is used for visual problems and hypertension. In both Chinese and Indian medicine the leaves of this plant are used for rheumatism and inflammations. Recent reasearch has shown that this plant contains zeaxanthrin, an oxycarotenoid, one of the Vitamin A family. Zeaxanthin is found in the human macula and has shown promise (along with another carotennoid, lutein) in protecting against macular degeneration and may reduce the risk of developing cataracts in some people."

Nothopanax Fruiticosum (Sanchi ginseng or Notoginseng root) - San Qi/Tian Qi/Tien Chi

In China, this member of the panax family is considered a mild tonic, but the premier herb for stopping bleeding, even retinal hemorrhaging, and wound healing. This herb appears also to reduce pain and swelling and may improve certain cardiac related actions.

Paeonia suffruticosa or P. moutan (Tree Peony, also Moutan bark) - Mu Dan

Flowers of this plant are eaten as a vegetable in some parts of Japan. The bark contains a glucoside called phaeonol. In Chinese medicine it is used as a tonic for blood circulation, this use was not confirmed when the evidence was examined by the German E Commission.

Phellodendron amurense bark (Amur Cork Tree) - Huang Bai

In Japan, the Ainu use the bark in treating certain skin diseases, whereas in China, it is used to control diarrhea and dysentery. It is also used to control hot flashes and inflammations of the legs and feet.

Polygonatium sibericum or polygonati rhizoma - Huang Jing rhizome

This rhizome appears to contain an anti-inflammatory agent. Research seems to indicate that it may lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Polygonium multiflorum - Fo Ti Root/Ho Shou Wu

- A traditional Chinese herbal medicine which in clinical trials, has been found to reduces blood pressure (hypertension) and cholesterol levels. Fo-Ti is also an effective immuno-suppressive agent and it has some anti- inflammatory properties. Further research may show Fo-Ti to be useful in autoimmune diseases.

Dose: 1 teaspoon of root per 1.5 pints of water, boiled together for 1/2 hour in a closed container. Take 1 tablespoon at a time of cooled liquid, total 1-2 cups per day.

Fo-Ti has not to my knowledge been evaluated by Com. E, ESCOP or WHO yet.

Poria Cocos or Wolfiporia cocos - Fu Ling/Fu Shen

This fungus is used as food in India (Tuckahoe - Indian bread), whereas in China it is one of the most widely used medical herbs. It is used in chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, for stress and nervousness and to improve sluggish digestion.

Rehmannia glutinosa (Chinese Foxglove) - Di Huang

There is some evidence that this root is useful for rheumatism. It is used in Chinese medicine as a diuretic and as a tonic for the kidneys, liver and heart.

Rheum officinale or Rhizoma Rhei (Medicinal Rhubarb) - Da Huang

This herb contains calcium oxalate. In Chinese medicine it is used as a tonic, as a laxative, for treating fevers and inflammatory diseases. It is even used in cases of chronic renal failure, however, it should not be used in cases of bowel obstruction.

Schizandra Berries - (Schizandra chinensis) -- Wu Wei Zu

These berries have been used for millenia in Tibet, China and Siberia. The Russian pilots in the 1940s used these berries to withstand the lack of oxygen at high altitudes. The berries probably also helped other vision problems due to their Vitamin content.

Although there is no report from World Health, ESCOP or Com. E on this Chinese Herbal drug, its proven properties are of interest:

  1. Liver protective against narcotics, alcohol, etc.
  2. A non-caffeine, non-amphetamine stimulant
  3. Immune system stimulant and anti-allergenic agent
  4. Antidepressant, with reversal of CNS (central nervous system) depression and
  5. Antifatigue agent, which lowers the heart rate increase during exercise and quickens the recovery of respiratory function (the experimental animals used, were polo ponies!)
It is *Contraindicated* for epileptics and people with high intracranial pressure or severe hypertension. Dose: 1-2gm per day in capsule or tablet form.

Sesamum indicum (Sesame seed) - Hei Zhi Ma

The seeds from this annual were consumed very early on in Asia and Africa. In Babylon, Ancient Egypt and Europe the expressed oil was used. The oil is excellent as a salad oil and is used for cooking fish in Japan, just do not use it for frying.

The seeds were used in breads in Siciiy and in cakes in Greece. In India the seeds were parched and ground into a meal for cookery. In South Carolina, the parched seeds were used in broths and puddings.

Today sesame is used in the manufacture of soaps, cosmetics, liniments, oinments and as a solvent of medicinal agents. The seed oil cake is used as a catte feed and as a fertilizer.

There are many varieties with black, which, brown and dark red seeds. These are used for breads, cookies, dakes and in confectionary.

These seeds can be black, white, brown or dark red. The seeds contain phytosterols which may lower cholesterol levels. In Chinese medicine they are considered to replenish vital essences (Qi) by acting as a tonic on the liver and kidneys.

Zizyphus jujube (Jujube seeds/fruits) - Da Zao

Considered to be a sedative, but unproven as a tonic and nutrient. In Chinese medicine used to control some lung discharges and as a tonic. Home Page

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