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Medicinal Herbs | Significance

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the herbal tradition that is part of it, developed separately from Chinese folk medicine. It arose from ideas recorded in the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing ). 
In Chinese, everything in the universe is composed of Yin and Yang. Everything has yin and yang aspects, or complementary opposites-such as day and night, up and down, wet and dry. The five element theory associates constituents of the natural world -wood, fire, earth, metal and water- with other fundamentals such as seasons, emotions and parts of the body. Each element gives rise to the next in a perpetual fashion.
Chinese practitioners seek patterns of disharmony, which are expressions of imbalance between yin and yang. Particular attention is given to reading the pulse and tongue, both of which are very important for an accurate diagnosis.
Medicinal Herbs
As the herbal tradition developed within TCM, the taste and other characteristics of herbals became closely linked with their therapeutic uses. The Divine Husbandman`s Classic (Shen `nong Bencaojing, 1st century AD) lists 252 herbal medicines specifying their taste and "temperatures". Chinese herbalists still relate the tastes and temperatures of a herb directly to its therapeutic use.
Chinese herbal medicine uses tinctures or alcoholic extracts of herbs, but only occasionally. Generally, patinas are given mixtures of roots and bark to take as decoctions two or three times a day.

The herbal tradition has flourished in China and today it is recognized as a valid medical system which is available to the Chinese on an equal footing with conventional Western medicine. As is often the case elsewhere, herbs seem to be used mainly for chronic conditions, while western medicine is more frequently employed for serious acute illness.
Chinese herbal medicine, however, is not just of significance in China and the surrounding regions. Many Chinese universities now teach and research herbal medicine, and this development, and the massive input of resources involved, has helped revitalize herbalism worldwide during the last 20-30 years.
Chinese herbal medicine is now practiced by trained practitioners in every continent and also has official government recognition in some countries. For example, in 1995, the French government signed an agreement with the Chinese to establish a hospital in Paris, offering acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine. 
Thus, in the same way as ephedra (Ephedra sinica) was discovered to be such an excellent medicine for allergies and asthma, increasing numbers of Chinese herbs were found having major health benefits. There is little doubt that over the next few decades' Chinese herbal medicine will continue to grow in popularity around the world.




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