Chinese Herbology

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Chinese1.jpg (69134 bytes)Introduction to Chinese Herbology
Posted 04/21/15

It is estimated that over one billion of the world’s people use the principles of Chinese herbology as part of their daily health practices.

Chinese herbalists teach that the determining factors of health are a person’s lifestyle, environment, and nature (or constitution). The term “constitution” refers to a person’s basic nature. It takes into account lifelong tendencies, personal preferences, and tastes. In all traditional health care systems, understanding a person’s basic constitution is important when determining the type of diet, exercises, and other health-building practices the person needs. Chinese herbology compares the substances of nature with human qualities. It examines a person’s basic nature, using a system of five constitutions: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.

Chinese herbal formulas are not designed to cure diseases; they are nutritional supplements designed to feed and support the five constitutional types.

Therefore, choosing a Chinese herbal formula is really a matter of determining one’s “constitutional type,” rather than simply treating a physical symptom. (It is also important to understand that in Chinese herbology the names used to refer to the body systems do not necessarily have a one-to-one correlation with the Western medical name of that organ or system.)

Understanding Chinese Constitutional Herbology

Wood Constitution

Wood ConstitutionThe Wood constitution is symbolized by a tree because it not only yields to the wind, but is strong, durable, and flexible. A healthy tree possesses a well-developed root system; a healthy person is well-grounded in his personality; strong, but also flexible.

The Chinese associate decision-making and the abilities of planning and judgment with the digestive system. The body part or organ associated with the Wood constitution is the liver and gall bladder. Anger and resentment are said to damage the liver and gall bladder.

Conditions traditionally known to arise from Wood imbalances include hypoglycemic syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, structural weakness, allergies, Raynaud's syndrome, and depression.

Fire Constitution

Ch Fire.GIF (15233 bytes)The Fire constitution is associated with warmth and light. Fire, like our minds, illuminates and sheds light on a darkened world. It's lively, full of imagination and vitality. When kept under control, fire is very useful. However, it will dominate and consume if not kept in check.

The circulatory system and the upper parts of the body are associated with the fire element, because heat rises. The heart is seen by the Chinese as the home of insight and understanding. Courage is also associated with the heart.

Excess fire leaves one “out of touch with reality” and living in a dream world. It can also result in excessive imagination and the over pursuit of perpetual happiness. Not enough Fire may leave one unable to accomplish goals, antisocial, and with a fear of trying something new.

Conditions traditionally known to arise from Fire imbalances include insomnia, paranoia and anxiety, restlessness, heart palpitations, flushed face, and weakened sexual response.

Earth Constitution

Ch Earth.GIF (14081 bytes)Often referred to as Mother Earth, the Earth constitution is the grounding element. It keeps our feet planted on a strong foundation by nourishing and providing us with food, clothing, and shelter. Human characteristics associated with the earth constitution include being stable, basic, deep-rooted, centered, and fertile.

The Earth constitution represents the spleen. The spleen is the nurturer. The emotion connected with it is anxiety.

A person who is too “earthy,” or “motherly,” might have a tendency to worry too much about others. Conversely, a person who is deficient in the earth element may be nervous, flighty, unstable, imbalanced, or otherwise “unearthed.” They may not have nurturing emotions.

Conditions traditionally known to arise from Earth imbalances include weight control, digestive disturbances, low energy, poor circulation, food allergies, and weak muscles.

Metal Constitution

Ch Metal.GIF 
			(14890 bytes)The Metal constitution is important for our defense. Metal invokes images of substance, structure, and strength. The Metal constitution provides us with strength to protect ourselves. This constitution represents the lungs, skin, and mucous membranes (which line the respiratory system and digestive tract) which act as a shield to protect our body from harmful invaders.

A breakdown in the Metal constitution would be associated with weakened immune response, an inability to stand up and defend oneself, or an inability to express sorrow and grief. Excessive Metal may lead to defensiveness, rebelliousness, and an excessive need to assert one's own opinions. The emotions related to the Metal constitution are sorrow and grief.

Conditions traditionally known to arise from Metal imbalances include chronic infections of mucous membrane (sinus, lungs, colon, vaginal), chronic cough or sinus congestion, nausea, and skin cysts.

Water Constitution

Ch Water.GIF (23118 bytes) Water is essential to life. The Chinese consider the water constitution to be the most basic of all elements. Water is naturally serene and submissive; although, in excess, water can be as violent and inundating as a flood.

The Water constitution represents the kidneys. The energy of water is expressed in the flow of blood and lymph and our own ability to adapt.

The emotion associated with Water is fear. Excessive fear is thought to damage the kidneys. The adrenal glands (situated on top of the kidneys) are the glands that respond most violently to fear. A deficiency in the Water element could lead to a lack of the ability to change, submit, or compromise. Water flows downward, so Water imbalances would show up in the lower half of the body.

Conditions traditionally know to arise from Water imbalances include edema (swelling), urinary tract irritation, impotence, low back ache, and weak knees.

It's all a question of balance

Ch YinYang.GIF 
			(26223 bytes)The Yin and Yang symbol of balance is central to traditional Chinese thought. Yin and Yang are the two opposing, yet complementary sides of nature. Literally, they mean “the two banks of a river” (or the two sides of a mountain) -- one in the shade, the other in the sun.

The Chinese believe that when the opposites of Yin and Yang are in balance, the body is healthy; when they are not in balance, illness results. The success of a Chinese herbal formula lies in its ability to balance the Yin and Yang.

Yin illnesses are those which are characterized by weakness, slowness, coldness, and underactivity. These are chronic illness or diseases of deficiency.

Yang illnesses are those which are characterized by strong, forceful movements, heat, and overactivity (diseases of excess).

Chinese herbal formulas redress yin/yang imbalances in the body by supplementing deficient elements. Yang formulas reduce or relieve the Chi (or life energy — usually pronounced “key” — also spelled “Qi” but pronounced the same) of the overactive body parts (i.e., pacify the spirit, clear the congestion, ventilate the lungs, and clear the heat). Yin formulas enhance or support the Chi energy of the underactive body parts (i.e., generate the pulse, strengthen the bones, strengthen the weak, warm the center, and nurture the heart).

Bibliography: Source materials used to develop the Natural Health information on this site.

Note Well: None of the statements about natural health on this website have been submitted to, or evaluated by, either the Food and Drug Administration or the American Medical Association. All consumable products mentioned in any context on this website are intended to be used as food only, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. According to the United States government, herbs are food or flavorings and cannot be used to treat or cure diseases. If you have a health concern, please consult your health care provider. Any mention of possible “health benefits” of any product refer only to its historical use in “folk” medicine.

All information on this web site is presented for educational and/or religious purposes only, and is nothing more nor less than an expression of our religious belief that all healing is from God, that we can expect to have good health when we live a lifestyle that is in harmony with His universal laws (His Torah), and that He has provided mankind with certain foods and techniques that help the body’s natural healing processes. Regardless of the mistaken opinion of either the FDA, the AMA, or the FTC, this religious expression is specifically protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America!

Page last updated on Wednesday, 03 August 2016 10:17 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes after May 3, 2015 are identified as "Revisions”)