Herbs are powerful. They have the power to heal or destroy the body. The history of Chinese herbal medicine is as rich and colorful as the system itself. The use of herbs and other natural substances has been used for thousands of years to heal. Most of the time when people this of herbal medicine they think mostly of plants. In Chinese medicine almost nothing was disregarded and all of nature can or should be used if found to be beneficial.
For example, scorpions (quan xie) are an “herb” that is used, mostly combined with other herbs, that can have very specific affects on the body. It has pungent properties and is normally associated with the liver meridian. It is used to stop spams and to dispel toxins and wind. Some practitioners even suggest using scorpion for such things as headaches and joint pain. It is generally considered to be quite toxic so it is normally ground into a powder so the end product looks nothing like the actual starting product.
The earliest known books on herbology in China generally are attributed to two people. First, there was a gentleman that Shen Nong, who was called the divine farmer and is considered to the be father of Chinese herbal medicine. It is said that he consumed over 70 different toxic substances to determine the effect on the body in order to be able to rid the body of disease. He wrote a book which is considered to be the oldest on the subject. Much of it has been reported lost over time, but some has been preserved. Herbs tend to be classified in three major ways.
- Superior Herbs – the best possible herbs for dealing with disease, nourishing life and restoring balance to the body.
- Middle Herbs – These correct ones constitution and comprise of tonics and boosters, and should not be consumed for long periods of time.
- Lower or Inferior Herbs – minimal action on the body which are used for very minor health issues.
Perhaps the most famous of all books and the one that sets the foundation for much of traditional Chinese medicine is called the Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic). The Yellow Emperor is considered to be the Bible of Chinese medicine. This book is the first of its kind to talk about acupuncture and points, Yin/Yang, the 5 element theory, different types of qi, food therapy and also herbal medicine. Many of the herbal formulas for healing written about by these two men are still in use to this day.
Almost no health condition or problem that exists can not be helped by the use of various Chinese herbs. From cold, to allergies, to more complicated diseases such as cancer, herbs exist that have a radical and wonderful healing effect on the body. Many Chinese health practitioners and doctors use herbs and an essential part of their practice. Throughout history, these herbs have been the worlds drugs or supplements. In fact, many of the pharmaceutical drugs that are made today are made with extracts that come from herbs.
Herbs, especially powerful ones, must be used by a practitioner that has firsthand knowledge of the effect it has on the body. For example, if someone was diagnosed with heat and dampness (heat for example can be associated with pain of many kinds), one want to choose an herb that has known qualities that cooled and dried the body. Chinese medicine is about balance and if something is hot and has associated symptoms, you will want to find something that can help bring the body back to homeostasis.
Herbs should be a part of most peoples path to healing because they are powerful and if used right they can help the body heal very quickly.