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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Overall Health

Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates powerful herbs into treatments for a variety of health problems. This article details several traditional Chinese medicines that have been formulated to boost overall health by reducing inflammation, strengthening immunity, regulating digestion, fighting insomnia and stress, treating gynecologic disorders, fighting fatigue, and more. Honey, ginseng, Astragalus root, Poria, licorice, and Lycium fruit are just some of the medicinal herbs used in these patent medicines to promote well-being.

You'll learn each medicine's Chinese name, other names, indications, functions, and even dosages. Many of these time-tested medicines are based on traditional formulas that have been used in China for thousands of years.

First, learn about a medicine designed to combat qi deficiency, weak digestion, and fatigue. Get detailed information in the next section of this article.

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Traditional Chinese Qi-Strengthening Pills

Chinese Qi-Strengthening Pills combat qi deficiency, which can result in poor digestion, fatigue, and a more serious condition called organ prolapse.

Chinese name: Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan (boo juhng yee chee wahn)

Also known as: Central Chi Tea; Tonify the Middle, Strengthen Qi Pills

Indications

Qi deficiency, weak digestion, prolapsed organs, fatigue

Functions

Tonifies qi, regulates digestion, raises yang (pulls up prolapsed organs)

Description

An ancient formula, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan has a long history of resolving digestive problems and prolapsed organs, both conditions due to qi deficiency. Although primarily composed of tonifying herbs, this formula also contains two herbs that perform a task unique to Chinese medicine. Cimicifuga (sheng ma) and Bupleurum (chai hu) are used as directing herbs with an upward energy; that is, in addition to their specific medicinal effects, they can also direct the effects of an herb formula to the upper portion of the body.

This upward energy can also be employed to resolve organ prolapse, a condition in which an organ, such as the uterus, bladder, or rectum, sags downward due to connective tissue weakness.

The formula is also useful -- when prescribed and supervised by an experienced practitioner -- for the condition known in Western medicine as "incompetent uterus" in which miscarriage occurs between the third and sixth months of pregnancy due to cervical weakness.

In addition to strengthening prolapsed organs, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan can be used for other symptoms of spleen and stomach qi deficiency, such as fatigue, abdominal bloating, sensitivity to cold, and chronic diarrhea.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 pills, three times a day

Next, discover a special Chinese remedy that harnesses the power of a large, yellow perennial called Astragalus root.

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Traditional Chinese Essence of Northern Astragalus

Those suffering from fatigue will benefit from Chinese Essence of Northern Astragalus, which is designed to boost vitality and improve digestive function.

Chinese name: Bei Qi Jing (bay chee jing)

Also known as: Extractum Astragali, Essence of Northern Astragalus

Indications

Fatigue, weak immune system

Functions

Tonifies spleen qi and lung qi

Description

Available in small one-dose vials, this remedy is a 50/50 mixture of honey and Astragalus root (huang qi). This perennial member of the pea family produces a large yellow root that is highly prized in Chinese herbal medicine. It is often cooked in soup bases to provide a boost to the vital energy. A safe and effective herb, it strengthens the immune system (wei qi) by increasing production of antibodies and macrophages, cells that attack disease-causing pathogens and foreign objects in the body.

It is also used to strengthen spleen qi, meaning it improves digestive function and overall vitality. It helps nourish the blood and "generate flesh," making it useful for skin ulcers that won't heal and postsurgical recovery. In China, it is routinely given to women who have undergone surgery to remove fibroid tumors from the uterus. This operation frequently leaves the uterine wall in a thin, weakened state, making future pregnancies a risk. Astragalus is used to help surgical patients grow new muscle tissue in the uterus before scarring sets in.

The blood-building aspect of this herb can be seen in its use after chemotherapy, a procedure that causes severe disruptions in white blood cell count. Combined in a decoction with Ligustrum seeds (nu zhen zi), this remedy has been found to normalize the blood count.

You've probably seen ginseng products advertised in a number of places. In the next section of the article, learn about a ginseng-based medicine that has been used for years to treat fatigue and poor appetite.

Manufacturer: Changchun Dosage: 1 to 2 vials per day

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Traditional Chinese Ginseng and Royal Jelly Syrup

In traditional Chinese medicine, Ginseng and Royal Jelly Syrup is commonly prescribed to fight qi deficiency and yang deficiency. This page explains what type of ginseng is used in this and related medicinals.

Chinese name: Ren Shen Feng Wang Jiang (ren shen fuhng wahng jyahng)

Also known as: Ginseng and Royal Jelly Syrup

Indications

Fatigue, poor appetite, feeling cold and weak

Functions

Tonifies qi and yang

Description

Asian ginseng is a strong tonic to several organ systems. With its warm energy, it is especially appropriate for weak, cold individuals who have both qi deficiency and yang deficiency. Symptoms of this deficiency condition include fatigue, low immunity, pale face and tongue, and feeling cold all the time. It has a significant ability to reduce fatigue and strengthen the immune system.

Because of its warm nature, Asian ginseng is not recommended for individuals with high blood pressure or a high metabolism with a tendency to overheat. For these individuals, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium), with its cooling, moist, yin-enhancing nature, is more appropriate.

At one time considered an exotic curiosity from Asia, ginseng products such as this are now sold all over North America. It's not uncommon to find these vials sitting at cash registers at the most unlikely of places, such as convenience or liquor stores. Although the syrup contains very little ginseng, it is still quite effective at building overall energy.

For more serious tonification, a stronger extract is recommended, such as the liquid Panax Ginseng Extractum or the thick syrup, "Pure Concentrated Korean Red Ginseng Tea." To truly experience the power of ginseng, there is no substitute for boiling a whole root for an hour or two and drinking the liquid.

The amount of research conducted on the effects of ginseng is staggering. Ginseng root has been found to enhance the ability of the nervous system to adapt to stress, stabilize blood pressure in cases of shock, and have a synergistic effect with insulin, which may allow a person with diabetes to reduce the amount of insulin used to control blood sugar levels. Manufacturer: China National Native Products

Dosage: 1 to 2 vials a day

Busy students and others who are fatigued and preoccupied can benefit from Chinese Bring Back the Spleen pills. Continue to the next page for details on this classic Chinese medicine.

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Traditional Chinese Bring Back the Spleen Pills

According to Chinese medicine, symptoms like fatigue, poor digestion, abdominal distention, and pale skin point to a spleen qi deficiency. This condition led to the development of a spleen-fortifying formula that has been popular for years.

Chinese name: Kwei Be Wan, Gui Pi Wan (gway pee wahn)

Also known as: Angelica Longana Tea, Bring Back the Spleen Pills

Indications

Fatigue, palpitations, poor memory, insomnia

Functions

Tonifies spleen qi and heart blood

Description

This ancient classical formula, available in convenient pill form, treats symptoms of deficiency in both the heart and spleen. This sort of imbalance often arises as a result of excessive thinking or preoccupation and is often referred to as "student's syndrome." Symptoms of spleen qi deficiency include fatigue, poor digestion, abdominal distention, loose stools, and pale face. The ingredients used to fortify the spleen are Codonopsis (dang shen), Poria (fu ling), Saussurea (mu xiang), Atractylodes (bai zhu), licorice (gan cao), and Astragalus (huang qi).

The symptoms of heart blood deficiency are insomnia, poor memory, restless dreaming, mental restlessness, and dizziness. These are addressed by the inclusion of Ziziphus seed (suan zao ren), Polygala (yuan zhi), Angelica sinensis (dang gui), and longan fruit (long yan rou).

Since a deficiency of spleen qi involves an impairment of the body's ability to assimilate nutrients through digestion, it often leads to a deficiency of blood. Therefore, the qi tonic herbs synergistically assist the blood tonic herbs in enriching the heart blood, another demonstration of the subtle elegance of traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 pills, three times a day

An herbal remedy specifically for eye and vision problems is detailed next. Read on to learn about remarkable Chinese Vision Pills.

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Traditional Chinese Vision Pills

Dry eyes, night blindness, sensitivity to light -- this powerful Chinese patent medicine treats these eye problems and others with Lycium fruit, abalone shell, and Tribulus fruit.

Chinese name: Ming Mu Di Huang Wan (ming moo dee hwahng wahn)

Also known as: Brighten Eyes Rehmannia Pills

Indications

Dry eyes, blurry vision, poor eyesight, all due to underlying yin deficiency

Functions

Tonifies liver and kidney yin, nourishes the eyes

Description

One of the variations of the Liu Wei Di Huang Wan base formula, this remedy adds three ingredients to focus the actions on the eyes. The first addition is Lycium fruit (gou qi zi), a delicious reddish raisinlike berry that can be eaten fresh. It is used in formulas where the liver and kidneys lack sufficient yin or blood to nourish the eyes. In clinical studies, Lycium berries have been found to have a protective effect on the liver. Since the liver is the major organ responsible for detoxifying harmful substances in the body, it can suffer damage from some of these toxins. Lycium fruit can reduce damage to liver cells and speed recovery of normal liver function.

The other two additions to the base formula are abalone shell (shi jue ming) and Tribulus fruit (bai ji li)--both are specific for eye problems caused by a disturbance in the liver (liver heat or liver wind). The entire formula is, therefore, quite useful for eye problems due to an underlying deficiency of liver and kidney yin. It can be used for poor visual acuity, night blindness, sensitivity to light (photophobia), excessive tearing, or retinitis.

It is important to be sure of an underlying yin deficiency; if the condition is one of excess fire (acute, swollen, red inflamed eyes), formulas that clear heat should be used, such as Long Dan Xie Gan Wan.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 to 10 pills, three times a day

Up next, get detailed information on a traditional Chinese medicine for women's health.

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Traditional Chinese Women's Precious Pills

This Chinese remedy originated in the 13th century and is especially effective for treating women's health issues.

Chinese name: Nu Ke Ba Zhen Wan (noo keh bah jen wahn)

Also known as: Women's Precious Pills; Gynecology Eight Treasure Pills

Indications

Fatigue, dizziness, anemia, scanty menses, lack of appetite

Functions

Tonifies qi and blood

Description

Derived from a 13th century formula, this remedy is a combination of two other classic formulas; one is a qi tonic, the other, a blood tonic. The base formula to strengthen qi is known as Four Gentlemen (Si Jun Zi Tang) and comprises ginseng (ren shen), Atractylodes (bai zhu), Poria (fu ling), and honey-fried licorice (zhi gan cao). (Frequently, Codonopsis [dang shen] replaces ginseng as a cheaper, less heating alternative.) The base formula to tonify blood is known as Four Substances (Si Wu Tang); it contains prepared Rehmannia (shu di huang), Angelica sinensis (dang gui), Paeonia root (bai shao), and Ligusticum (chuan xiong).

The combination of these two classics in this remedy makes it appropriate for a generalized deficiency of both qi and blood, so it is especially useful for women because of their monthly loss of blood during menstruation. It should be taken only after bleeding has subsided, not during the menstrual period.

Symptoms of deficiency of qi and blood include fatigue, pale face, dizziness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and poor appetite. Other signs include irregular menstruation, painful menstruation, slight or no menstrual flow, and weakness during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Clinical research on this formula in China demonstrated that this combination of herbs normalizes the blood count in cases of acute anemia. Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 to 10 pills, three times a day

Yin deficiency can be caused by overwork, insufficient fluids, stress, or even a dry environment. Learn more about yin deficiency -- and how it is treated in Chinese medicine -- in the next section.

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Traditional Chinese Six Flavor Tea

Three powerful tonic herbs combine with other natural ingredients in this sophisticated formula that treats a wide variety of conditions, from insomnia to weakness in the knees.

Chinese name: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (loo way dee hwahng wahn)

Also known as: Six Flavor Tea; Six Ingredient Rehmannia Pills

Indications

Thirst, irritability, night sweats, insomnia, weak low back and knees

Functions

Tonifies kidney yin, clears heat from yin deficiency conditions

Description

This is the classical base formula for all conditions of yin deficiency, especially of the liver and kidneys. Yin is moist, cool, and calm, and it enriches the organs and acts as a lubricant to bodily functions. When yin is deficient, chronic dryness and inflammation can occur. Yin deficiency can be compared with running a car that is low on oil: Under normal operating conditions, the lack of lubrication causes the engine to run hotter than normal; continued operation under these conditions can lead to long-term damage.

A variety of factors can cause yin to become deficient, such as overwork, lack of sufficient rest, insufficient fluid intake, stress, an overly dry environment, and excessive sexual activity. Symptoms of liver and kidney yin deficiency include a warm sensation in the sternum, palms, and soles of the feet; red cheeks; night sweats; a feeling of heat and irritability in the afternoon and evening; sore and weak low back and knees; ringing in the ears; chronic dry mouth; thirst; a reddish tongue with little or no coating; and a thin, rapid pulse.

By focusing on nourishing yin and clearing the heat from the deficiency, this formula subtly and elegantly treats this wide range of seemingly unrelated symptoms. It contains three ingredients that nourish yin and three that clear the deficiency heat.

The chief tonifying herb in the formula is Rehmannia glutinosa (di huang), an extremely important herb in the Materia Medica. In its raw state, it has a cold energy and is used to clear heat and nourish yin, making it useful in the treatment of high fevers and thirst due to diabetes. The prepared form is treated with wine to make it more nourishing to the blood and is used to treat anemia and menstrual difficulties and as an overall tonic to the kidneys and adrenal glands.

Another important ingredient in Rehmannia Teapills is Dioscorea, or Chinese yam (shan yao), a tonic to the lungs, stomach, and kidneys. It also induces the production of interferon, a substance manufactured by the immune system; interferon prevents viruses from replicating without disturbing normal cell function.

The third tonic herb is Cornus officinalis, or dogwood fruit (shan zhu yu), an astringent herb with a variety of actions: It is antiallergic, diuretic, antihypertensive, antitumor, antibacterial, and antifungal, and it increases the production of white blood cells. An astringent, it prevents further depletion of yin, preventing the excessive loss of semen, perspiration, urine, and uterine blood.

Another ingredient, Alisma plantago, or water plantain (ze xie), a strong diuretic and antibacterial herb, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, another reason this formula is so effective in controlling diabetes. A sedating herb included in the formula is Poria cocos (fu ling), a diuretic herb that also has a calming effect on the body. It is one of the important herbs for stimulating the immune system; it induces interferon production and contains polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system to track down and destroy cells foreign to the body.

The final herb in the formula is moutan, or tree peony root bark (mu dan pi), an aromatic agent that cools the body on a number of levels. It kills Staphylococcus organisms, lowers blood pressure, and decreases body temperature.

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan is a highly sophisticated formula that is useful in a wide variety of conditions. Numerous modifications to this base formula are available for specific conditions. Some of the disorders Liu Wei Di Huang Wan treats are diabetes, tuberculosis, hyperthyroidism, nephritis, hypertension, chronic urinary tract infection, and various degenerative diseases of the eyes. With some conditions, such as tuberculosis, Western pharmaceuticals are taken along with the herbs.

Note: Many of these conditions are life-threatening. As with all of the remedies in this book, the care of a qualified physician is essential while working with the herbs.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 to 16 pills, three times a day. Since this is a tonic formula, it should be taken for a few months.

Chinese Great Tonifying Pill, a general tonic for qi, blood, and immune function, lives up to its name. Continue reading for more on this effective Chinese medicine.

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Traditional Chinese Great Tonifying Pill

Boost immunity, fight fatigue, and increase your appetite with this potent combination of Astragalus and Codonopsis root.

Chinese name: Shen Qi Da Bu Wan (shen chee dah boo wahn)

Also known as: Codonopsis Astragalus Great Tonifying Pill

Indications

Weak immunity, fatigue, lack of appetite

Functions

Tonifies lung and spleen qi, strengthens immunity.

Description

Shen Qi Da Bu Wan is a general tonic for qi, blood, and immune function (wei qi). It is a mixture of Astragalus and Codonopsis root (dang shen). Both herbs are important tonics, and combined they make a balanced formula. They have a synergistic effect, since they both stimulate the central nervous system, lower blood pressure, stimulate the immune system, and increase the blood count.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 to 10 pills, three times a day

The Chinese have another remedy for fatigue, a liquid tonic that is mixed with water or tea. It's described in the next section of this article.

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Traditional Chinese Polygonum He Shou Wu Juice

Mixed with water or tea, this liquid tonic is a convenient way to fight premature aging and fatigue. There's also an interesting story behind its unique name.

Chinese name: Shou Wu Chih (show woo cherh)

Also known as: Polygonum He Shou Wu Juice

Indications

Fatigue, poor vision, general debility, premature aging

Functions

Tonifies blood and essence

Description

Shou Wu Chih is another convenient liquid tonic. The chief herb is Polygonum multiflorum (he shou wu), also incorrectly known as fo ti. Essentially a blood tonic, he shou wu nourishes liver and kidney essence, treating such conditions as weakness, insomnia, blurred vision, and premature graying of the hair.

The herb's name is due to an old tale about its discovery. As the story goes, Mr. He was an old, gray-haired man who went off into the hills to die so he would not become a burden to his family. After a few months, he wandered back into his village looking quite healthy with a full head of black hair. When questioned about how he managed to thrive so well in the wild, he replied that he had survived by eating the roots of a wild vine, Polygonum multiflorum. Since then, the plant has been known as he shou wu, or "black-haired Mr. He."

In addition to its nourishing quality, he shou wu has demonstrated effectiveness in lowering blood cholesterol levels and inhibiting the pathogens that cause tuberculosis and malaria.

In addition to other yin and blood tonics such as Angelica sinensis (dang gui) and Rehmannia glutinosa (shu di huang), the formula also contains small quantities of cloves (ding xiang, or "fragrant spike") and cardamon (sha ren). The inclusion of these aromatic carminative herbs makes the formula more digestible. Tonic herbs, even those meant to strengthen digestive function, are often heavy and difficult to digest. For this reason, digestive stimulants are often added to tonic formulas to prevent digestive discomfort. Manufacturer: United Drug Manufactory

Dosage: 2 to 3 tablespoons mixed with water or tea, three times a day. The remedy can be taken over a long period if the individual has no heat signs (red face, dry mouth, irritability, skin rash).

Next, discover another Chinese medicine that is especially helpful for women's health concerns.

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Traditional Chinese Angelica Dang Gui Syrup

Chinese Angelica Dang Gui Syrup is an herbal treatment for anemia, and for fatigue following surgery or an illness. Most people find its taste quite pleasant.

Chinese name: Tang Kwei Gin (dahng gway jin)

Also known as: Angelica Dang Gui Syrup

Indications

Fatigue, anemia, scanty menses

Functions

Tonifies qi and blood, regulates menses

Description

A classic blood tonic, Tang Kwei Gin comes in a liquid form that is quite pleasant-tasting when mixed in water. When used along with Women's Precious Pills, it can raise the red blood cell count, an important action in cases of anemia or fatigue after surgery or a prolonged illness. It also strengthens digestive function, helping the body absorb nutrients from food and further assisting in the production of new blood cells.

The chief herb in the formula is Angelica sinensis (dang gui), a sweetly aromatic root with a wide range of actions. It has a regulatory effect on the uterus, enabling contractions to be more regular (such as in cases of delayed or weak menstruation) or relaxing the uterine muscle (such as with cramps), depending on which is needed. The formula also contains vitamin B12, which is necessary to prevent pernicious anemia.

Manufacturer: Plum Flower

Dosage: 1 tablespoon, three times a day

Women suffering from menopausal symptoms like night sweats, irritability, and hot flashes can find relief in an herbal treatment formulated specifically for those symptoms. Read on to learn about this medicine.

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Traditional Chinese Anemarrhena with Rehmannia Pills

Heat-clearing herbs make Chinese Anemarrhena with Rehmannia Pills an excellent choice for menopausal women who suffer from hot flashes and night sweats.

Chinese name: Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan (jih bye dee hwahng wahn), Chih Pai Ti Huang Wan

Also known as: Anemarrhena and Phellodendron with Rehmannia Pills

Indications

Hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, menopausal symptoms, all due to strong heat arising from yin deficiency

Functions

Tonifies yin and clears heat from yin deficiency conditions

Description

This variation on Liu Wei Di Huang Wan has two added ingredients: Anemarrhena root (zhi mu) and Phellodendron bark (huang bai). The addition of these two heat-clearing herbs makes the formula much colder, enhancing its ability to clear heat from deficiency of yin. This makes it more useful than the base formula, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, when deficiency heat is the major symptom as in night sweats, hot flashes, thirst, restlessness, red cheeks, and dark urine. It is very useful in treating the symptoms of menopause, where the deficiency of yin (estrogen) leads to deficiency heat (hot flashes, night sweats, restlessness). It is also effective in treating the same symptoms in people who have developed deficiency heat signs after long-term use of thyroid replacement hormones or lithium.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 to 16 pills, three times a day

There are several traditional Chinese medicines for gynecologic disorders like vaginal discharge and menstrual problems. Read about these in the next section.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Gynecologic Disorders

Traditional Chinese medicine treats gynecologic disorders like vaginal discharge and menstrual imbalances with Thousand Gold Piece Leukorrhea Pills, Free and Easy Wanderer Pills, and Heal Leukorrhea Pills.

Thousand Gold Piece Leukorrhea Pills

Chinese name: Chien Chin Chih Tai Wan (chyen chin chih tie wahn)

Indications

Leukorrhea (vaginal discharge)

Functions

Acts as an astringent, regulates qi, regulates blood, clears dampness

Description

This patent formula treats vaginal discharges effectively, especially in cases in which the woman has a qi deficiency marked by an overall lack of energy and vitality. It can be used for vaginal discharges, such as Trichomonas or yeast infections, especially when the discharge is light-colored. The ingredients have multiple functions: They clear the pathogen, act as an astringent to the discharge, and relieve pain.

Manufacturer: Tianjin

Dosage: 10 pills, twice a day

Free and Easy Wanderer Pills

Chinese name: Xiao Yao Wan (shaow yaow wahn)

Indications

Liver qi stagnation, with irritability and menstrual imbalances

Functions

Moves stagnant liver qi; tonifies blood

Description

This classic formula could have been placed in a number of categories: It is tonifying (strengthens digestion and builds blood) and harmonizing (relieves irritability and harmonizes energy flow), and it regulates the menstrual cycle. It is by far one of the most popular patent remedies used in North America.

Our high-stress lifestyle often leads to the disorder for which this formula is indicated: stagnation of qi in the liver. In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver governs the smooth flow of qi in the body and is important in regulating the menstrual cycle and emotional balance. If qi is stagnant, changes in the cycle and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome occur.

Xiao Yao Wan is especially useful in cases of menstrual irregularity and discomfort as well as premenstrual syndrome and its symptoms of moodiness, breast distention, and cramping. It is most effective when used for two or three months, with a one month break afterward, then another two to three months. It should be discontinued during menstrual bleeding.

The chief herb in the formula is Bupleurum root (chai hu), a very important plant in Chinese medicine. Bupleurum is well-known for its ability to stimulate the immune system, suppress flu viruses, and bring down fevers. It is also anti-inflammatory and has a tranquilizing effect. It is the chief herb for treating disorders of the liver, especially when stagnant qi leads to emotional irritability.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 to 10 pills, three times daily

Heal Leukorrhea Pills

Chinese name: Yu Dai Wan (yoo dye wahn)

Also known as: Heal Leukorrhea Pills

Indications

Leukorrhea (vaginal discharge) due to damp heat

Functions

Clears damp heat in the lower burner

Description

Yu Dai Wan is another effective treatment for vaginal discharge. Unlike Chien Chin, which is appropriate for both heat and cold conditions, Yu Dai Wan is specific for discharges due to heat. The main indicator for a heat-type discharge is a yellow or dark color with a strong smell. This is considered a condition of damp heat: The discharge is a form of dampness, and the yellow color and strong smell are signs of heat. Therefore, the treatment principle is to drain the dampness and clear the heat.

This is accomplished through the cold, astringent action of the formula's chief herb, Ailanthus altissima (chun pi). The cold nature of the herb helps clear the heat, while its astringent action helps dry the discharge. In addition to nourishing herbs that assist the body's "cooling system" (yin), the formula also contains Phellodendron bark (huang bai), a powerful antibiotic herb that has shown great success in treating vaginitis and cervicitis from trichomonas infections.

Warning: Do not confuse this herb with philodendron, a common, poisonous houseplant.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 to 10 pills, three times a day

Next, we'll cover several Chinese medicines that treat inflammation, including skin eruptions and infections.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine for Reducing Inflammation

These three remarkable Chinese medicines relieve inflammatory conditions like hemorrhoids, infections, prostatitis, and more. Read the descriptions and dosage instructions carefully for best results.

Fargelin for Piles

Chinese name: Qiang Li Hua Zhi Ling (chyahng lee hwah jih ling)

Also known as: Fargelin for Piles (High Strength), Extra Strength Effective Eliminate Hemorrhoids

Indications

Acute and chronic hemorrhoids

Functions

Invigorates blood, relieves pain, reduces swelling, clears heat

Description

Add this remedy to the list of remarkable Chinese medicines. People frequently report overnight relief from the pain, swelling, and bleeding of hemorrhoids.

Note: The label lists bear gallbladder as one of the ingredients. Typically, this ingredient has been replaced by the gallbladder of a domestic animal, or the patent contains no animal products. Continued international pressure should ensure that the Chinese discontinue the practice of using body parts from endangered species.

Manufacturer: United Drug Manufactory

Dosage: 3 tablets, taken three times a day

Forsythia Clear Toxins Tablets

Chinese name: Lian Qiao Bai Du Pian (lyahn chow bye doo pyen)

Also known as: Forsythia Clear Toxins Tablets

Indications

Skin inflammations and infections

Functions

Clears heat and inflammation, relieves pain

Description

Lian Qiao Bai Du Pian is a useful formula for treating a wide variety of skin eruptions due to toxic heat, such as boils, skin infections, and poison oak or ivy. In all cases of skin inflammation, it is essential to make adjustments in the diet as well. One way the body eliminates irritating or unhealthy substances is through the skin. A diet that is high in irritating substances such as coffee and spicy and greasy foods, therefore, often leads to skin problems. In fact, coffee is so heating to the blood that it can be almost impossible to clear an individual's skin problems as long as he or she continues to drink it.

Since this heat in the blood is a result of an internal process, it is very difficult to resolve skin eruptions or skin inflammation with the application of topical creams or ointments. However, when blood-cooling herbs are taken internally, the inflammation is dealt with at the source.

In one case, a young woman had been suffering for weeks from severe poison oak. Her thigh was swollen, stiff, and bright red; even a cortisone shot failed to relieve the symptoms. She was given a bulk herbal formula similar to Lian Qiao Bai Du Pian to drink three times a day; an external wash consisting of astringent herbs was also applied to relieve the itching and to help dry up the rash.

In addition, her diet was adjusted to include cooling foods such as salads and carrot juice. After one week, her leg had returned to normal. She continued on a maintenance dose of the patent medicine for another week to make sure that the inflammation was gone, and she eliminated coffee from her diet.

Lian Qiao Bai Du Pian contains rhubarb root (da huang), which helps to clear toxic heat. It accomplishes this by increasing bowel movements. This purgative effect should be considered before taking the remedy.

Manufacturer: Tianjin

Dosage: 4 to 6 pills, three times a day

Gentian Clear the Liver Pills

Chinese name: Long Dan Xie Gan Wan (luhng dahn shyeh gahn wahn)

Also known as: Gentian Clear the Liver Pills

Indications

Excess heat in the liver causing conjunctivitis, urinary tract infection, prostatitis

Functions

Clears damp heat and fire from the liver and from the gallbladder

Description

This traditional formula treats a wide range of inflammatory conditions. Its actions are most easily understood when considered from the perspective of traditional Chinese disease patterns. This patent is indicated strictly for excess-type disorders rather than deficiency-type conditions. While deficiency conditions require a strengthening or tonifying of the body, in conditions of excess, the proper treatment is often to clear heat or drain dampness.

Long Dan Xie Gan Wan is specific for the patterns known as excess heat or damp heat in the liver and gallbladder, with symptoms that include red eyes, headache, bitter taste in the mouth, irritability, and possible hearing loss. Other symptoms of "lower burner damp heat" are dark or cloudy urine, genital itching or swelling, vaginal discharge, and constipation.

The numerous imbalances Long Dan Xie Gan Wan is able to resolve are organized by organ system as follows:

  • Eyes: acute conjunctivitis ("pink eye"), corneal ulcers, acute glaucoma, retinitis
  • Ears: acute middle ear infection, acute external ear infection
  • Urinary: acute urinary tract infec­tion (kidney, bladder, or urethra)
  • Reproductive: genital herpes, pelvic inflammatory disease, vaginal discharge, testicular swelling or inflammation, acute prostatitis
  • Systemic: migraine, eczema, herpes zoster
  • Liver and Gallbladder: acute hepatitis, acute cholecystitis

Although the medical conditions listed above appear unrelated, they can share the same traditional Chinese diagnosis. For this reason, it is essential to treat the individual's traditional symptom patterns, not the Western disease name.

Just as a single Chinese diagnostic category can manifest as numerous and widely different Western diseases, a single Western disease can also have a wide range of Chinese diagnoses, depending on an individual's symptoms and constitution.

In one memorable case in which Long Dan Xie Gan Wan was effective, a patient had severe conjunctivitis in one eye for a few weeks. She had already gone through a round of antibiotics with no resolution, and she was beginning to feel desperate. Her symptom pattern fit the diagnosis of excess heat in the liver, so she was given Long Dan Xie Gan Wan. In addition, a tea of chrysanthemum flowers (ju hua) was prescribed to reduce inflammation specifically in the eye. After one week of Chinese herbal therapy, the eye returned to normal. At this point, the condition of excess heat was cleared, and it was time to address the underlying weakness, a deficiency of liver yin.

When the moistening, cooling, yin aspect of the liver is deficient, the organ tends to overheat, making it more prone to inflammation. For example, if a car engine is low on oil or water (yin) it has a tendency to overheat. Once it overheats, the first step is to let it cool down (clear excess heat). To address the cause of the overheating, oil and water are added (tonifying yin). In this way, traditional Chinese medicine is very thorough in its treatment of disease; it not only corrects the problem but resolves the cause as well.

In another case, Long Dan Xie Gan Wan was used to treat an attack of genital herpes in a young woman. As is often the case with outbreaks of the herpes virus, the young woman could sense the attack coming on before actual symptoms appeared, giving her a chance to begin treatment before the full-blown manifestation. Since the symptoms fit the pattern of damp heat in the liver meridian, she immediately began a course of Long Dan Xie Gan Wan along with acupuncture therapy. The outbreak was not only milder than usual but it went into remission very quickly compared with her previous outbreaks.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 pills, three times a day. This patent should be discontinued as soon as symptoms subside since long-term use can weaken digestion.

Prostate Gland Pills

Chinese name: Qian Lie Xian Wan (chyahn lyeh shahn wahn)

Also known as: Prostate Gland Pills

Indications

Acute and chronic prostatitis, testicular pain

Functions

Clears damp heat in the lower burner, stimulates circulation, decreases inflammation

Description

As the name implies, this remedy is formulated for acute or chronic inflammation of the prostate gland. This disorder is especially common in males older than 40 years of age. Symptoms include dribbling or painful urination and pain in the testicles. The remedy is also useful for urinary tract infections and testicular inflammation.

In two cases of testicular pain due to trauma, one in a marathon runner and the other in a bicycle racer, a course of Prostate Gland Pills along with some rest from their athletic activity was all they needed. Treatment took only a week. Chronic cases of inflammation may require a longer course of treatment.

The chief herb in the formula is Vaccaria seed (wang bu liu xing), which is useful for painful swellings in the breasts or testicles. Note: Prostate cancer is very common in older men; anyone experiencing prostate problems should consult his physician and undergo diagnostic testing for the disease. Manufacturer: Wai Yeung District Medicine Company

Dosage: 6 pills, three times a day

Today's hectic lifestyles often lead to insomnia and stress. Discover Chinese medicine's treatments for these conditions in the next section of this article.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Insomnia and Stress

Most of us have suffered from insomnia, anxiety, forgetfulness, or restlessness at one time or another. Fortunately, these ailments can be treated naturally with several traditional Chinese medicines.

Peaceful Sleep Tablets

Chinese name: An Mien Pien (ahn myehn pyen)

Indications

Insomnia, anxiety, poor memory

Functions

Nourishes heart yin and calms the spirit

Description

An Mien Pien is a mild formula that possesses heart-nourishing and heat-clearing properties. In traditional Chinese medicine, the heart is not only responsible for blood circulation, it is also considered the "seat of the spirit." For this reason, if the yin (nourishing aspect) of the heart is depleted, the person experiences anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. This imbalance in heart yin is treated with herbs that are considered to "nourish the heart and calm the spirit (shen)."

This category of herbs is represented in An Mien Pien by its two chief ingredients: Ziziphus seed (suan zao ren) and Polygala root (yuan zhi). Ziziphus seeds have a sedative, hypnotic, and analgesic action and are indicated for insomnia, restlessness, and heart palpitations due to "deficiency of blood or yin in the heart and liver."

Polygala root is another nourishing herb that calms the heart, making it useful for anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and disorientation.

Manufacturer: China National Import and Export Corp.

Dosage: 4 tablets, three times a day

Peaceful Spirit Tonify Heart Pill

Chinese name: An Shen Bu Xin Wan (ahn shen boo shin wahn)

Indications

Insomnia, dizziness, excessive dreaming, restlessness

Functions

Sedates the spirit, nourishes the heart and kidneys

Description

This formula is known for its ability to calm anxiety, insomnia, excessive dreaming, and heart palpitations. Its chief ingredient is mother-of-pearl shell (zhen zhu mu), which is in the category of substances that "settle the heart and calm the spirit." Most of the members of this category are heavy sea shells and minerals, and they are meant to "anchor the spirit" in cases where the underlying deficiency of yin has allowed the yang (activity) to become relatively excessive. Typically, this yang excess produces more severe emotional imbalances than simple yin deficiency without extreme heat, and it requires a stronger tranquilizing effect than simple yin tonics that are mildly calming.

Since the formula is composed of almost 50 percent mother-of-pearl shell, it can cause stomach irritation or indigestion in some individuals. In this event, it should be discontinued.

Manufacturer: Shanghai Native Medicine Works

Dosage: 15 pills, three times a day

Emperor's Tea

Chinese name: Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan (tyahn wahng boo shin dahn)

Also known as: Emperor's Tea, Emperor of Heaven's Pill to Tonify the Heart

Indications

Insomnia, palpitations, anxiety, night sweats

Functions

Tonifies heart blood and yin, clears heat from deficiency

Description

This ancient formula in patent form is the classical remedy for the symptoms of "heart and kidney yin deficiency," an imbalance common in modern industrialized society. This type of depletion can occur from excessive mental work, improper diet, and "burning the candle at both ends." Symptoms include insomnia with restless sleep, disturbing dreams, anxiety, forgetfulness, mouth sores, inability to concentrate, and, possibly, night sweats. From a Western perspective, it can be used for mental or emotional disorders, insomnia, hypertension, menopause, or hyperthyroidism.

The chief herb is Rehmannia glutinosa (sheng di huang), chosen for its ability to replenish depleted reserves in the kidneys (yin essence). Substances that "nourish the heart and calm the spirit" are added, such as Polygala tenuifolia (yuan zhi), Ziziphus spinosa (suan zao ren), and Biota orientalis (bai zi ren).

Another important ingredient is Salvia miltiorrhiza (dan shen), an important herb for treating palpitations, anxiety, and insomnia due to depletion of heart and kidney yin. Asparagus root (tian men dong) is added to increase the cooling, moistening actions of the formula.

Finally, the formula contains Schizandra berries (wu wei zi). In addition to its ability to treat insomnia and palpitations due to depletion, Schizandra is considered an adaptogen similar to ginseng, meaning it may be capable of increasing the body's resistance to disease. It provides greater endurance and an improved capacity for dealing with stress.

In the past, some versions of this patent were coated with a reddish powder called cinnabar. While this substance has strong sedative effects, it contains traces of mercury, a toxic heavy metal that is already too prevalent in modern industrialized countries. It is against the law to import cinnabar into the United States, so the mineral showed up only in patents that came through customs years before the ban. Telltale signs are a reddish color instead of the usual black pills, and the ingredient list includes cinnabar, known as zhu sha.

It is worthwhile to be aware of the possibility, however remote, that patents with this coating may still be around. Therefore, check the color of the pills and the label on the bottle to be sure the patent you use is not coated with cinnabar.

Manufacturer: Lanzhou Foci

Dosage: 8 pills, three times a day. The formula should be taken for a few months to have a long-lasting effect.

Take advantage of the time-tested traditional Chinese medicines discussed in this article to boost your immunity, reduce inflammation, cope with fatigue, and more. These medications can be effective natural alternatives to the drugs at your local pharmacy.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatments, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Bill Schoenbart is licensed in both herbal medicine and acupuncture and has an M.A. in Chinese medicine. He is editor of The Way of Chinese Herbs and Biomagnetic and Herbal Therapy.

Ellen Shefi is a licensed massage technician, licensed acupuncturist, and registered dietician. She is a member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the American Herb Association, and the Oregon Acupuncture Association.