Chinese herbs are an enormous part of Chinese medicine and have since ancient times been classified according to their basic actions on the human body. Their classifications are constructed based on the fundamental principles of Taoist philosophy upon which chinese medicine itself is built.
Unlike conventional medicine, herbs in chinese medicine aren’t standard for everyone even if they have wonderful health properties. This is because what may be needed and beneficial to one individual may actually induce harm in someone else who does not need it. For instance, let’s say an individual who has internal cold and exhibits a number of cold symptoms takes herbs that reduce and clear internal heat. Do you think they would get better because of a certain beneficial nutrient present in that herb? Thousands of years of clinical evidence indicates that it would actually inflict harm on that patient and make their existing condition worse.
Herbs of Reduce Excess Heat
Now if a patient is indeed suffering from symptoms of excess heat inside the body, this class of heat clearing herbs would quickly alleviate their condition. This class of herbs is typically used for diseases that are characterized by infection and inflammation. It is further broken down into 3 categories: “fire heat”, “blood heat”, and “toxic heat”.
- The first “fire heat” herbs are used to treat acute inflammatory or infectious diseases such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs), and acute bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial mucous membrane). Examples: Shi Gao (Gypsum Fibrosum), Xia Ku Cao (Spica Prunellae Vulgaris) and Mu Dan Pi (Cortex Moutan Radicis)
- Herbs that reduce “blood heat” are generally used to stop bleeding and are helpful in conditions such as nosebleeds, vaginal bleeding or any other abnormal bleeding occurring in the body. Examples: Zhi Mu (Rhizoma Anemarrhenae Asphodeloidis) and Xuan Shen (Radix Scrophulariae Ningpoensis)
- Herbs that reduce “toxic heat” are normally utilized for inflammatory and infectious diseases that are suppurative as with many skin diseases, mumps, mastitis, lymphangitis, and appendicitis. Examples: Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis), Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae Baicalensis), Huang Bai (Cortex Phellodendri), Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae Jasminoidis) and Long Dan Cao (Radix Gentianae Longdancao)
A Few Measures of Precaution:
- Do not take if excessive heat is due to constipation (this should be treated by another class of herbs).
- Do not take long term or if you must, combine it with herbs that promote digestion. (herbs in this category tend to be rough on the stomach because they are not easily digested).
- Should be combined with yin tonic herbs to prevent dehydration.
Modern Medicine Uses:
This class of herbs has been used for its antibacterial properties as well as to decrease inflammation, relieve irritability, restlessness, insomnia, stop bleeding, reduce body temperature, activates the ureter and promote urination (making it very effective for treating urinary stones).
Henry C. Lu. Chinese Natural Cures, 2005. Traditional Methods for Remedy and Prevention.