Chinese Pharmacopia is very ancient, over 6,000 years old, and is one of the main pillars of East Asian Medicine . It stems from the concept of food for healing. Herbs are considered a nutritional food substance, and many of them are cooked with meals. These herbs are from natural substances whether plant, mineral or animal, they contain within their matrix strong Qi, Vital Life Force. Herbs are considered to be more digestable because they are food substances.
Herbal preparation and forms are varied. Herbs may be ground into a powder, or made into a decoction, tinctures, ointments or pills. They may be either fresh or dried depending on usage. Of utmost importance is the herbal source must be quality controlled. A Chinese herbal formula may be written in Chinese characters and filled at a reliable Asian herbal pharmacy. There the herbs are measured and weighed out onto a single piece of paper. This single packet of herbs is then to be cooked, the liquid drunk as directed. Or the herbs may be obtained in a pre-granulated form, or in a pill. Whatever their form, their source must be reliable. Caution for herbs from countries which do not take quality control measures. Most competent herbal companies only sell to trained and certified practitioners who know how to administer the herbs to their patients. Proper diagnosis is needed for herbal selection.
Rarely in Chinese Herbal Medicine is a single herb used as in Western herbal therapies. Rather a precise combination of herbs is selected in a very specific formula which balances the effects and supports the overall herbal intention. Only a trained and qualified herbal therapist is skilled to administer herbs for specific conditions, especially complicated conditions. Herbal training is in-depth and takes many years of study and experience. The ancients claimed ten years minimum was required to be a proficient herbal therapist. Herbal medicine once was relegated to be used only by the Chinese Emperor and his court. The common villager could not afford the herbal doctor, thus the development of folk remedies for in every village there was someone skilled in the healing arts of plants.
The uses of classical Chinese herbal formulas are as varied as symptoms and illnesses found in the human race. Herbs are a good adjunct therapy to Acupuncture and Shiatsu treatment.
Dong Gui is Angelica Root, Latin name, Radix Angelicae Sinensis. Dong Gui is an important herb in Chinese Pharmacopeia for properties known as “Tonifying Blood”. Dong Gui is dominant in women’s formulas for regulating the menses, and thusly is a very important herb for women.
Its first function is to “adjust the menses and tonify the Blood”; next it “enlivens the Blood and stops pain”, moving stagnation and constriction associated with Blood not “moving easily”. Dong gui’s last use is to “moisten the intestines and move the stool”. Deficient Blood can cause intestinal dryness which leads to constipation, or hardened stool.
In Western medicine Dong Gui is akin to taking Vitamin B. It is antimicrobial. Also it both stimulates and calms the uterus.
Dong Gui is featured in such women’s formulas as: Women’s Precious and “Women’s Rhythm”. Angelica Root, Dong Gui is the most commonly used herb for all menstrual problems that are rooted in and generate difficulty from “Deficient Blood and Qi”. It is used for dysmenorrhea (painful cramps during a period), amenorrhea (absence of a period), menorrhagia (a period with heavy bleeding and clots), and scanty menstruation. In addition, the formula Women’s Precious is ideal for fertility problems, such as inability to conceive, habitual miscarriage and postpartum recovery.
Women’s Precious consists of four herbs: Dong Gui, Angelica Root, Bai Shao, White Peony Root, Shu di huang, Foxglove and Chuan xiong, Szechuan Lovage root.
Women’s Precious creates an abundance in the “Sea of Blood” (the Penetrating Vessel), and the “Sea of Yin” (the Conception Vessel – which runs straight up in the mid front of the body). When these two meridians (energy channels) are abundantly full, the uterus is “luxuriant”, the menses can be regular and reproduction “harmonious”.
Women’s Precious can be used for other GYN concerns that require tonification of the Blood and Qi. This formula may be used for various types of leucorrhea (vaginal or uterine white to yellow discharge), low back ache (in the area of the genitals and/or kidneys), tired limbs, appetite disorders, and feeling either cold or hot in the abdominal area; it is also used for a “constitutional formula” for women who are frail and run-down. In China as a constitutional remedy it is used to promote moist skin, a radiant complexion, strong fingernails and a healthy head of hair.
OTHER NOTES ABOUT CHINESE PHARMACOPEA: In Chinese Pharmacopeia a single herb is not used often by itself, though some herbs are used for a “single effect” such as Ren Shen, Radix Ginseng, to treat Deficient Qi or Collapsed Yang Qi. Most herbal formulas are placed in a group of 4 or 6 at the minimum, 12 to 18 at the high end. Two herbs are usually used which have “mutual accentuation”; two herbs are added for “mutual enhancement”; one or two herbs are added for “mutual counteractions”, which means these herbs are there acting as agents to reduce toxicity or any side effect of one substance to another; one herb is added for “mutual suppression: of undesirable effects in other herbal substances.
Traditionally, the herbal combination originates from feudal hierarchy. The first herb is named the “ Lord” (Ju), the next two herbs are usually the “Ministers” (Chen), and the rest are referred to as “Adjuncts” (Zao).
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