Chinese Herbs

China is perhaps unique in the world in its long commitment to preventative medicine through the use of herbal tonics. The tonic herbs have several uses, including direct treatment of acute ailments, building strength in the recovery process, balancing the body's energy and preventing disease from occurring.
These herbs are combined to make tonic soups providing nourishment and gentle stimulation to the organs.
The Chinese herbs are becoming more readily available in the West, and many of the ones described here can be purchased in herb store around the United States.
To make the herbal soup, combine six to seven grams (about one -quarter ounce) of each of the desired herbs in a large nonmetallic pot. Use a quarter of water per once of herbs and simmer for an hour. Drink one cup of the tea, once per day, reheating the soup each day until it is all used. Always include some licorice in the formula.
They are never cooked in a water-soluble metal container as this will dilute their properties. For the more difficult diseases involving deficiency, they should be regularly used over a long period of time to help "build up the deficiency," the primary therapeutic principle of Chinese medicine. This is in contrast to Western herbalists who, coming from a tradition of excess meat eating and the use of rich foods, advocate a more eliminative approach to health.
Classify the herbs according to their tonic capacities. Yang or energy tonics include the following: aconite, astragalus, don sen, ginseng, eleuthero, ephedra, fu ling, licorice, ho shou wu, pai shu, and savia(dang shen). Yin or blood tonics include: dong quai, ho shou wu, lycii, rehmannia, peony, and tienchi.
There are also some herbs that are Yin-cooling, thus helping to detoxify the blood and remove inflammation and beat from the internal organs and body in general. These include: bupleurum, honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, and rehmannia (raw).
Herbs that are stimulating and warming to metabolic functions include: cinnmon, ginger, aconite, and citrus peel (especially tangerine). These have more extreme warming or stimulating action and also help digestion. Other herbs that help to build warmth include rehmannia, don sen, eleuthero, astragalus and tienchi.
A basic combination used as weekly soup stock in many traditional Chinese families is a follows:
Astragalus- 5 grams
Don sen- 8 grams
Fu Ling- 5 grams
Ginger- 5grams
Jujube date- 5grams
Licorice- 2grams (to harmonize)
The portions are subject to individual variation. Once could substitute ginseng root for don sen, add 1.5 grams of aconite to increase the metabolic stimulant action , logan berries and /or lycii in addition to or along with jujube date. So there are many possibilities for adjusting this basic combination to suit one's particular needs.
Those who suffer from anemia, poor circulation and menstrual irregularities should use combinations using dong quai as the major herb. The basic combination for stimulating and tonifying the Yin-blood is don sen and astragalus on hand to tonify Yang-energy, they also keep a quantity of dong quai and fresh ginger root to tonify Yin-blood.
Again this basic combination that is frequently used over and beyond the simple dong quai and ginger mentioned above is:
Don Quai- 6 grams (to tonify the blood )
Ligusticum-4 grams (to tonify and move the blood)
Peony- 4 grams ( antispasmodic, helps move the blood)
Rehmannia - 4 grams (tonifies the blood, helps the kidneys)
To this basic formula ginger, dried citrus peel, cinnamon or aconite can be added in small amounts to help catalyze and move the energy of the herbs.
The above formulas are especially good for deficiencies and are best taken in the form of Chinese herb soup. This is done by simply cooking the above ingredients in one or two quarter of water for one hour.
Strain if you don't want to encounter pieces of Chinese herbs in your soup broth. Add two to four ounces of lean pork, beef, or a whole chicken to the broth and continue cooking. Add some whole grains, vegetables and salt to taste. One or two bowls of this soup mixture should be taken daily for chronic deficiencies. For maintenance, serve this delicious soup to the family on a weekly basis. Following is a combination of herbs that utilizes elements from both the Yang and Yin tonics:
Ginseng-2 grams
stragalus -2 grams
Dong Quai-2 grams
Fu Ling-2 grams
Aconite-1.5 grams (one slice of the root )
Rehmannia-2 grams
Ho Shou Wu -2 grams
Lycii -2 grams
Logan berries (Dragon's Eyes)-2 grams
Pai Shu - 2 grams
Jujube date - 2 grams
Ginger (fresh) - 2 or 3 slices
Licorice - 1 or 2 grams
Chrysanthemum - 1 gram ( as a cooling detoxifying herb).