The detailed information on nature, characteristics and therapeutic effects of each common Chinese herb

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Li Shi Zheng (1518 to 1593 AD) the greatest naturalist in Chinese medicine, developed the most important reference book in Chinese herbal medicine called the General Catalogue of Herbs, which includes 52 volumes and 1,160 illustrations.  

Today in Chinese pharmacopoeia, there are more than 2,000 medicinal herbs listed, but only about 300 are used in general practice and less than one hundred are commonly prescribed. Many of the common herbs are classified as food herbs used in everyday cooking. They are also known as the superior or tonic herbs, which have extremely high nutritional value and can be used on a regular basis. They can improve overall health and resistance, increase vital energy, promote longevity, anti-aging and anti-cancerous. They are adaptogenic in nature, which can help the body to adapt to the environment and stimulate the body's self-healing functions. They can suppress extreme conditions and elevate those that are weakened. This is known as the double-direction effects. 


The Classifications of Herbs are:

Superior herbs 

They can be classified into:

  • Energy tonics - to fortify qi and to increase energy.
  • Blood tonics - to promote the production and circulation of blood to every part of the body for proper functioning.
  • Yin tonics - to benefit the five vital organs and the production of vital fluids. 
  • Yang tonics - to strengthen bones, muscles, the mind and sexual functions. 
  • Shen tonics - to regulate the spirit and increase alertness and concentration.

Inferior herbs

They are drugs used for fighting specific symptoms of diseases. They are harsh and extreme in nature and can be poisonous. They can only be used when certain symptoms are present and have to be stopped once symptoms are under control. Prolong usage may cause harmful side effects and imbalance.

General herbs

They are for non-specific disease and are used for general prevention purposes. They are slightly harsh in nature and are not meant for regular use.


Chinese herbs are seldom used in isolation especially for the inferior and general herbs. Combinations of herbs are used in herbal remedies to increase potency, to complement or counter or moderate the effects of each other and to achieve synergistic effects of the herbs used.

The herbs described in this section are superior or food herbs for use in therapeutic recipes. Although most of them are safe for regular use, they have to match one's constitution and specific health needs. That is why Chinese herbal medicine cannot be pre-mixed and sell as over the counter remedies. It has to be personalized and changed according to the patient's response throughout the treatment process.  


Please Explore Our Herbs Library for Therapeutic Effects of Each Herb:

Hot Herbs

Common herbs which are hot in nature

Warm herbs

Common herbs which are warm in nature

Neutral Herbs

Common herbs which are neutral in nature

Cool Herbs

Common herbs which are cool in nature

Cold Herbs

Common herbs which are cold in nature

"Medicine and food is the same"

(i.e. food is medicine and medicine is food)

-  Nei jing, The Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine