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Using western herbs according to chinese medicine principles


Submitted By: bileapetre

I was reading section on western herbs list, wich by now is brief and is to be completed with time.

What I wish to say is, the chinese herbology uses many herbs wich are not much available in west countries, and it would be wonderful to have informations about western herbs, on how they act from TCM aproach- like is the herb yin or yang, warm or cold, wich meridians they act, wich exterior energy expells from the body(wind, cold etc.). Such brief informations can be found sometimes. I have found that a software called "herbal pharmacy", gives brief information was given about "energetics efects" at each herb, 1-3 words such as: "spicy, hot", or "bitter, sweet,cold".

The ayurvedic book "yoga of the herbs" also gives energetic information for some western herbs from aproach of Ayurveda(old traditional indian medicine, also based on principles of 5 elements) , from wich some TCM features can be deducted from descriptions such as "hot, dry, heavy, sweet" etc.

Also some herbal products have been developed in Europe, containing local herbs as well, that are said to act on meridians.


I too would be interested in the relationship of our common herbs - goldenseal, comfrey, St John's wort, echincea etc to TCM herbology. I am sure the results may be the same but the reason one uses it may be different - goldenseal for an systemic infection would be as an antibioticof sorts in the west- would TCM use goldenseal or would it even be in the reportoire?

My familiarity with the common western herbs might give a foundation to learn the why's in TCM. The discussion touches on blending many CAM therapies inclucing homeopathy, Bach Flower essences, Healing Touch with TCM. Any web sites that anyone knows that integrates all or all of the above to produce health would be interesting.

Yet, I have to question myself - if one is halfway skilled in a lot of things, but not thoroughly trained in any one thing - does that make a little knowledge into a dangerous thing? The cross referencing allows for a deeper understanding of the use of the Western herbs and an understanding of their relationship to TCM healing. But will it bear fruit, except as a means to learn more about TCM?

Any insights....

Thank you


There are a number of herbalists working on incorporating western herbs into the Chinese system of diagnosis and herbal formula preparation.

As you point out our both our tcm herbal database and certainly our western herbal database are works in progress at the moment. I will, however, work in whatever tcm data I can find as we build out the western herbal database. There are many interesting correlations and there is a tremendous diagnostic power within TCM that is extremely valuable for the proper use of herbs. This opposed to the single herb usage that is more widely practiced with western herbs.

A few authors/texts that you might find interesting are as follows:

Michael Tierra, "Planetary Herbology"

Thomas Garran, "Western Herbs According to Traditional Chinese Medicine"

Jeremy Ross, "Combining Western Herbs and Chinese Medicine"

I'm most familiar with Michael's work and he is a tremendous herbalist and researcher and has done an immense amount of work at incorporating western herbs into TCM.


I was hunting through my giant, unsorted pile of papers and, voila, I found a 14-page article by John Freeman, BSc ,MH, CH, PEng entitled East/West Herbal Energetics Part III. I don&#39t know where Parts 1 & 2 are, but I imagine they would be from the magazine where the article was originally published, Canadian Journal of Herbalism. I guess I must&#39ve printed this off the internet, though I cannot find this article on the w.w. web anymore.

This article, which includes much other info, compares Western and Chinese formulas for tonification of the various organs systems, including actions & quantities of each herb.

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