This plant is a native of Europe where it is cultivated medical use. It has now become naturalized in some parts of this country.
The ROOT is the official part, and should be dug up in autumn, in the 2nd year of its growth. When older, it is apt to be stringy and woody.
The taste is aromatic and bitter; the odor is slightly camphorous and, especially in the dried root, agreeably aromatic. Its medical virtues are extracted by alcohol and water; the former being most strongly impregnated with its bitterness and pungency.
By the ancients it was much employed, especially in the complaints peculiar to females and is still used in cases of retained or suppressed menses.
From a belief in its deobstruent and diuretic virtues, it was formerly prescribed in chronic engorgements of the abdominal viscera and the dropsy to which they so often give rise.
It is now considered valuable in chronic diseases of the lungs, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, and all chest troubles, especially with weakness of the digestive organs and with general debility. It is warming and strengthening to the lungs while at the same time it promotes the expectoration of viscid mucus. It is especially recommended in tuberculosis of the lungs. It is claimed that a combination of elecampane and echinacea is very useful in tuberculosis.
It has been highly recommended both as an internal and external remedy in tetter, psora, and other diseases of the skin. It is because of this that elecampane is also called scabwort.
Elecampane is also a warming, strengthening, cleansing tonic remedy to the mucous membrane, especially the gastric, alvine, and pulmonary membranes, and is of excellent use in catarrhal conditions of the bronchi and dyspepsia. It is better suited to chronic than acute conditions.
It is an excellent addition to cough syrups. An infusion of the root, sweetened with honey, will be found useful in whooping cough, although the infusion of thyme is most frequently used for this trouble.
The usual methods of using are in powder or decoction. The dose of the powder is a scruple to a drachm. The decoction may be prepared by boiling % oz. root in 1 pt. water and taken in doses of 1 or 2 fl. oz.
In hot infusion, its stimulating power gives a good outward circulation.
Drugs which kill and expel worms are called “anthelmintic”. Worms enter the body through the skin or as ova in contaminated foods. Some can only be detected by examining the faeces for ova. Other types are indicated by such symptoms as abdominal pain and pressure, loss of weight, loss of appetite, eating without satisfying hunger, desire for strange foods or materials, yellow complexion, body swelling, and itchy anus. Treatment of intestinal worms should always be followed up with appropriate preventive care to prevent recurrence of contamination.
Anthelmintic herbs should be used with the following points in mind:
Prolonged worm infestation with attendant symptoms of abdominal stagnation should be treated in combination with digestives.
Anthelmintics are most effectively administered on an empty stomach, to insure direct contact with the worms. If patients also suffer from chronic constipation, combine treatment with cathartics or laxatives to insure thorough elimination of worms and their ova.
Dosages of anthelmintics should be carefully regulated, especially with highly poisonous herbs, to prevent toxification
When fever or acute abdominal pain is displayed, use of anthelmintics should be temporarily halted
These drugs should be used sparingly in pregnant women, the weak, and the elderly.
Indications: Hookworm, pin-worm; diarrhea and dysentery; tuberculosis; coughing fits; external application to early stages of abscesses and ringworm on the head.
Dosage: 3-5 cloves (fresh).
Remarks: Extracts of this family of herbs have recently become popular remedies in the West; it has been often noted that countries which consume large quantities of garlic have a lower incidence of cancer than others; the herb is by far more effective when used fresh.
Medicines which contract and tighten tissues to impede uncontrolled seepage of fluids are called “astringent“. They are employed in ailments of fluid loss with such symptoms as profuse sweating, nocturnal sweats, chronic diarrhea and dysentery, chronic coughs, spermatorrhoea, premature ejaculation, urinal incontinence, chronic leukorrhoea, profuse bleeding, etc Chronic fluid loss is harmful to the body’s primordial energies, and if left unchecked, it can lead to far more serious, acute ailments.
The primary pharmacodynamic effects of astringents are to impede perspiration, stop diarrhea, strengthen and “solidify” the semen, retain urine, stop leukorrhoea, hemostatic, antitussive, and other fluid preserving actions. In cases of external and “full” ailments which have not been fully eliminated, and in the early stages of dysentery and hacking coughs, astringents should not be used, in order to prevent retention of “evil-qi” excess.
Yin tonics are applied in “yin-empty” ailments. They nourish kidney-yin, lung-yin, stomach-yin, and liver-yin and are used against ailments of deficiency (“empty”) in those organs. Major symptoms of such ailments are as follows:
Most yin-tonics are sweet, cold, moist, and “sticky” by nature. Patients with spleen-yang and kidney- yang deficiencies (for symptoms see “Yang Tonics“) should use yin-tonics sparingly and in combination with other appropriate herbs.
Effects: Tonic to yin; tonic to kidney- yin; refrigerant to blood; hemostatic; astringent.
Indications: Liver-yin deficiency: blurry vision, dizziness, headache; kidney-yin deficiency: spermatorrhoea, premature greying of hair; bleeding due to yin-deficiency: blood in sputum, urine and bile, menorrhagia.
Dosage: 10-15 g.
Remarks: An extract of the fresh herb applied to the scalp promotes hair growth; taken internally, it blackens the hair, beard and eyebrows.
Effects: Tonic to yin; tonic to kidneys; nutrient to sinew, bone and cartilage.
Indications: Kidney-yin deficiency: faint and weak voice, afternoon heat spells, nocturnal sweats, lumbago, weak sinews, bone and cartilage; yin- deficiency due to heat injuries; failure of opening in top of baby’s scull to close; menorrhagia.
Dosage: 10-25 g.
Remarks: Promotes contractions in delayed or difficult childbirth; pro- motes growth of bone and cartilage in babies.
Effects: Tonic to yin; clears blockages and softens tumors; antipyretic.
Indications: Kidney-yin deficiency: afternoon heat spells, nocturnal sweats; yin-deficiency due to yang- excess; yin-deficiency due to heat excess; swollen or infected pancreas; pain in rib-cage; amenorrhoea; tumors.
Blood tonics are used to “nourish the blood” in diseases caused by blood deficiency. Common symptoms of “empty” blood ailments are a sallow complexion, pale lips, colorless fingernails, dizziness, ringing in the ears, heart palpitations, absent- mindedness, insomnia, etc. Dysmenorrhoea is an additional symptom in women.
When blood deficiency appears together with energy deficiency, both energy and blood tonics should be applied in therapy. If yin-deficiency is also indicated, yin-tonics are used as well. Basically blood tonics and yin tonics have similar effects, the former being more specific to the blood and the latter generally affecting the entire body.
Blood tonics are generally moist and “sticky” by nature. Many have high oil and moisture content. Those patients suffering from stagnation, abdominal oppression, and poor ap- petite due to damp-excess should use them sparingly. If the spleen is “empty,” combine blood tonics with stomachic and digestive herbs.
Yang tonics are used in ailments caused by yang deficiency. The kidneys house primordial yang-energy, and thus most yang-deficient ailments come to rest in the kidneys, and yang-tonics primarily tonify and “warm” that organ. Common symptoms of kidney-yang deficiency are fear of cold, cold hands and feet, impotence, spermatorrhoea, nocturnal emissions, premature ejaculation, urinal incontinence, etc Sexual potency falls within the domain of yang and also centers about the kidneys and surrounding glands. Thus, the most renowned Chinese aphrodisiacs fall into the yang-tonic category. Aphrodisiac tonics, how- ever, should only be used in cases of yang-deficiency. If used by people with yang-excess and/or yin-deficiency, they further aggravate the yin/yang imbalance by injuring the already weak yin-energy.
The other organs affected by yang-deficiency are the spleen and the heart. Spleen-yang deficient ailments are similar to those of “spleen-empty”, described above under “Energy Tonics”. Heart-yang deficiencies, which display symptoms of profuse cold sweats, pale complexion, and weak, irregular pulse, are injurious to the blood and circulation and are best treated with drugs which “warm” the blood and with energy tonics. The liver and lungs rarely display yang-deficient ailments: on the contrary, yang- excess is the most common imbalance in those two organs.
Yang-tonics are generally warm and drying and should be used sparingly by patients with chronic yin- deficiency or fire-excess.
Effects: Tonic to kidney-yang; tonic to the 13th and 14th meridians (meridians of “Life” and of “Conception”); nutrient tonic to semen, marrow, sinew, and cartilage; aphrodisiac.
Indications: Kidney-yang deficiency (insufficient secretions of sexual hormones): impotence, watery semen, cold extremities, lumbago, clear and profuse urine, anemia, weight loss, slow growth in children, weak bone and sinews, dysmennorhoea, leukorrhoea; 13th and 14th meridian deficiencies.
Dosage: Pure powder —0.3-1 g; decoction —3-5 g.
Remarks: This is one of the most renowned and popular sexual tonics in the ben cao; the best is tender new horn still in velvet with the dried blood still visible in the cartilage; the most potent essence is obtained by drinking the fresh blood and secretions directly from the freshly cut horn.
Effects: Tonic to kidneys; nutrient to bones, sinew and cartilage; tonic to liver: improves vision.
Indications: Kidney-yang deficiency: impotence, premature ejaculation, spermatorrhoea, frequent and pro- fuse urination, ringing in the ears, lumbago, leukorrhoea; blurry vision due to liver deficiency.
Dosage: 10-15 g.
Remarks: The drug facilitates labour contractions during difficult child-births.
Effects: Tonic to kidneys; nutrient to bones, sinew and cartilage; tonic to liver: improves vision Indications: Kidney deficiency: impotence, premature ejaculation, spermatorrhoea, ringing in ears, frequent and profuse urination, urinal incontinence, lumbago, leukorrhoea; blurry vision due to liver deficiency.
Herbs which restore strength and tonify weakened tissues when the body is ” empty” —deficient —are called “tonic” They are used to repair damage caused by “empty” ailments. Clinically tonics are used for two purposes. One is to increase the body’s resistance to disease when resistance has been impaired by excess “evil-qi”. Combined with drugs which dispel excess “evil-qi” tonics are used in ailments caused by excess “evil-qi” or deficient “pure-qi.” They tend to restore the body’s original primordial energies. The second clinical use is to restore energy and accelerate recovery in patients who have become weak and vulnerable due to long-standing chronic ailments. Tonics are among the most useful of all drugs in Chinese herbal medicine.
Tonics are primarily used in “empty” ailments, which are divided into four types: energy deficient, blood deficient, yang-deficient, and yin-deficient. Tonics are thus similarly sub-classified as energy tonics, blood nourishers, yang-tonics, and yin-nourishers. “Tonic” and “nourish” are interchangeable terms, though customarily “tonic” is used to describe yang and energy herbs, while “nourish” is used for yin and blood herbs.
In clinical application, it is important to match the right type of tonic to the equivalent type of deficiency, such as using yang-tonics for yang-deficiency and so forth. Energy deficiency and yang deficiency are interrelated (energy belongs to yang) and their symptoms often appear together. Degeneration of vital energies and impairment of vital functions are the main indicators. Similarly, blood deficient and yin-deficient ailments often coincide (blood belongs to yin), and their main symptoms involve internal damage to the body’s vital fluids and fluid balance. Therefore, energy- and yang-tonics are often combined in therapy, as are blood- and yin- nourishers. In cases of both blood and energy deficiency, or combined yin- and yang-deficiency, both types of tonics are applied.
In patients who have not fully recovered from “full” ailments, restorative tonics should be used sparingly in order to avoid retention of some of the “full-evil” excess.
Energy tonics or “tonify qi”
These tonics are used against ailments caused by energy qi- deficiency. They primarily tonify lung energy and spleen energy where energy deficiencies usually come to rest. The spleen regulates digestion and distribution, and when it is “empty,” common symptoms are fatigue, loose and lumpy bowel movements, poor appetite, abdominal pain and pressure, hernias, prolapse of rectum, and others. The lungs regulate qi. When they are “empty”, common symptoms are lack of energy, shallow and strained breathing, aversion to talk, slow and sluggish movements, cold sweats, and others. Energy tonics are used in all the above ailments and symptoms.
In therapy, energy tonics are often used together with blood nourishers because “qi is the general of the blood” and regulates its production and its circulation. Thus, when qi is deficient, blood also suffers. In cases of extreme blood deficiency, such as due to profuse loss of blood, energy tonics are used with blood nourishers to facilitate renewed blood production.
Excess or prolonged use of energy tonics may result in oppressive sensations in the chest and abdomen and loss of appetite.
Natural distribution: Northeastern China, northern Korea.
Effects: Very tonifying to primordial energy; tonic to lungs and spleen; nourishes vital fluids; aphrodisiac.
Indications: Energy deficiency: weak pulse, asthma due to “empty” lungs, dyspepsia, lack of appetite, prolapse of rectum, hypertension, insomnia, heart palpitations; diabetes.
Dosage: Normal —2-8 g; acute —15-20 g.
Remarks: Strictly avoid tea and turnips when using ginseng; ginseng regulates blood pressure and blood sugar as well; promotes secretion of sexual hormones in men and women; promotes blood production by tonifying qi.
Effects: Tonic; antipyretic; antidote; demulcent to lungs; expectorant; analgesic.
Indications: “Empty” spleen and stomach; blood and energy deficiency; toxic abscesses; swollen and sore throat; coughs; asthma; acute abdominal pains.
Dosage: 2-10 g.
Remarks: This is the most commonly used Chinese herb, appearing in almost all prescriptions; it benefits all the organs; its flavor improves the taste of all prescriptions; it slows and prolongs the effects of strong tonic prescriptions; antidote in mushroom poisoning; emollient in peptic ulcers.
DRIED HUMAN PLACENTA
Natural distribution: World-wide.
Parts used: Dried placenta tissue.
Nature: Sweet and salty; warm.
Affinity: Heart, spleen, kidneys.
Effects: Tonifies energy, blood, and vital essence.
Indications: Extreme blood and energy deficiency; general weakness and fatigue; asthma due to lung deficiency.
Dosage: 3-5 g.
Remarks: Also an effective tonic in impotence, sterility and neurasthenia.
Medicines which facilitate the bringing up or the transformation of phlegm from the respiratory tract are called “expectorant.” Those which control coughing and soothe the throat are called “antitussive.” Expectorants generally have antitussive action and vice versa, which is why they appear under the same heading. Expectorants are used not only against excess phlegm due to coughs and colds, but also against other phlegm excess related ailments such as goitre, swelling of the lymph glands, epilepsy, certain types of fainting spells and others.
In clinical applications of these herbs, attention should be paid to the following points: both internal and external ailments can induce excess phlegm accumulation and coughing. When selecting expectorants and antitussives for therapeutic use, they must be combined with other types of herbs appropriate to the original causes of the problem. Phlegm and coughs due to external ailments should be treated in combination with diaphoretic herbs which “release externally”; “empty” ailments should be treated in combination with tonifying medications. When there is blood in the phlegm, avoid using expectorants of a highly drying nature, which would increase blood seepage. While coughing is one of the early symptoms of measles, do not use warm or astringent antitussives in such cases.
Effects: Antitussive; sedative in asthma; analgesic.
Indications: Asthma; irregular or difficult breathing; shortness of breath; stomach ache.
Dosage: 0.1-0.25 g.
Remarks: Poisonous; the dried flowers are smoked in a pipe to relieve asthma without phlegm excess; not suitable for use in children; traditionally, the drug has been used as a local anaesthetic before topical surgery; the leaves and seeds are used as local anaesthetics as well.
Tonics which facilitate blood circulation, dissolve clots and keep the blood vessels soft and supple are called “blood regulators.” This category also includes hemostatic herbs which stop or prevent internal and external hemorrhage. They are used in ailments due to poor circulation —”blood stagnation” — blockages in the circulatory system, or uncontrolled hemorrhage.
Clot-dissolving and circulation-promoting drugs should only be used when the symptoms indicate stagnation or blockage in the bloodstream. The opposite acting hemostatic herbs are used in cases of hemorrhage, seepage, or other “leaks” in the circulatory system. The same drug, however, can have both effects, depending upon the dosage. These drugs have a strong affinity for the heart and/or liver, which are the two vital organs controlling blood. They are among the most useful and effective of all Chinese herbs.
Effects: Promotes circulation; dissolves clots; emmenagogue; tonic to liver and kidneys; nourishes sinews and bones; diuretic.
Indications: Amenorrhoea; dysmenorrhoea; traumatic injuries; stiffness and pain in lower back and loins; weak legs and feet; blood in vomit, sputum and nosebleeds; painful or bleeding gums; urethritis.
Remarks: The drug increases the number of thrombocytes (blood- clotting cells), which improves coagulation capacity by 40-50 percent; it strengthens osmotic resistance of blood vessel walls; it is cardio-tonic.
Effects: Astringent; hemostatic; reduces swelling; promotes healing of flesh.
Indications: Blood in vomit, sputum and nosebleeds; external application to traumatic injuries, skin infections and abscesses.
Dosage: Pure powder —1-3 g; brewed —3-8 g.
Remarks: For external use, the drug is powdered and mixed with sesame oil; it is astringent and emollient to burns, abscesses and other skin irritations; it is highly hemostatic in bleeding wounds; internally, it is most effective in stomach and lung hemorrhages.
Effects: Hemostatic; astringent; refrigerant to blood; emmenagogue; antipyretic.
Indications: All forms of hemorrhage.
Dosage: 5-10 g.
Remarks: The seeds are used as sedative in insomnia, heart palpitation and nervous disorders; the fresh leaves steeped for 7 days in 60 percent alcohol solution produce a potion which is rubbed on bald spots 3 times a day to promote hair growth.
Effects: Hemostatic; refrigerant to blood; dissolves clots and cholesterol.
Indications: Blood in stool; bleeding dysentery; bleeding hemmorrhoids; menorrhagia; blood in vomit, sputum and nosebleeds.
Dosage: 9-15 g.
Remarks: Recent new uses for the flowers are to lower blood pressure and as preventive in cerebral hemorrhage (10-15 g infusion per day); the drug strengthens and tonifies the walls of capillaries to prevent seepage; the seeds are effective against bleeding hemorrhoids and bloody stool.
Natural distribution: China, northern Asia, northern Europe.
Effects: Hemostatic; refrigerant to blood; dissolves clots and cholesterol; emmenagogue.
Indications: All types of hemorrhage; amenorrhoea; post-natal bleeding; traumatic injuries.
Dosage: 5-10 g.
Remarks: The drug has hemostatic properties in small doses (5-10 g) and clot-dissolving properties in high doses (over 20 g); its hemostatic action is greatly enhanced if the herb is first dry-fried in a hot pan with lumps of charcoal.
Natural distribution: Northern China, northern Europe, North America.
Indications: Coughing blood; blood in stool; nosebleeds; traumatic injuries.
Dosage: Pure powder—1-2 g; brewed —5-10 g.
Remarks: Extremely effective styptic action when applied directly to traumatic wounds; heals without leaving clots and scars; internally and externally, best drug for serious bleeding; can be used safely in large doses.
Stomachicsand digestivesare those herbs which tonify the stomach and spleen, promote digestion, facilitate distribution, and accelerate, movement of accumulated excess food in the stomach. Digestive ailments requiring treatment with these medications are indicated by symptoms of oppression and swelling in abdomen, belching, coughing up bile, nausea and vomiting, irregular bowel movements, dyspepsia, and all “empty” spleen and stomach symptoms. In cases of “empty” spleen and stomach, stomachic herbs should be combined with spleen tonics. In cases of “cold” in spleen and stomach, use with drugs which are “warming” to interior. When the digestive problems are due to damp-excess, combine with aromatic “moisture trans- forming” herbs. When energy stagnation is the source of problems, use in combination with energy regulating herbs. If symptoms include constipation, include cathartics in the treatment.
Indications: Stagnant, undigested food accumulated in stomach; excess consumption of meats and fats; diarrhea; post-natal abdominal pain; scrotal pain and pressure.
Dosage: 6-15 g.
Remarks: The drug is especially effective in promoting digestion and movement of meats and fats; it dilates the blood vessels to lower blood pressure; dissolves cholesterol deposits in lining of blood vessels.