Warming Herbs

Herbs which warm the interior and dispel cold to correct symptoms of “internal-cold” ailments are called “warming” drugs. Their nature tends towards the warm and hot type. The Internal Book of Huang-Di states, “If it’s cold, warm it up.

“Internal-cold” ailments are of two kinds: one results from external “evil- cold” invading the interior regions with attendant symptoms of nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, yang- energy injuries, cold and painful sensations in chest and abdomen, lack of appetite, etc The other type develops internally when the heart and/or kidneys are “empty” of yang- energy thereby permitting yin-cold to rise inside, with attendant symptoms of perspiration, fear of cold, cold breath, cold hands and feet and other symptoms of yang-deficiency.

When applying these drugs therapeutically, attention should be paid to the following points:

  • In cases of external cold moving.
  • inward but still displaying certain external symptoms, they should be used together with diaphoretic herbs.
  • In hot summer weather or in patients whose bodies are by nature overly “hot,” these drugs should be used in smaller doses.
  • Warming drugs are generally pungent, warm and dehydrating and should be used with caution in patients with yin-deficiency and fluid deficiency.




Natural distribution: Sichuan, Shanxi

Nature: Very pungent; very hot.

Affinity: Heart, spleen, kidneys.

Effects: Stimulant to yang-energy; cardio-tonic; warming to spleen and kidneys; analgesic.

Indications: All yang-injuries: cold hands and feet, weak pulse, yang- deficiency in kidneys, dysfunction in spleen, diarrhea, abdominal pain; pains and body aches due to “wind- cold-damp” ailments.

Dosage: 3-8 g

Remarks: The fresh drug is very poisonous but becomes somewhat less toxic after drying; it should be brewed for a long time.




Natural distribution: Southern China, Indochina, Sumatra

Parts used: Unscraped bark of the large trees

Nature: Pungent and sweet; very hot

Affinity: Liver, kidneys, spleen

Effects: Tonic to yang-energy; stimulant; warming; analgesic

Indications: Yang-deficiency in kidneys, yang-deficiency in spleen; cold hands and feet, cold, painful stomach, lack of appetite, diarrhea; lack of vitality due to prolonged illness; blood and energy deficiency; dysmenorrhoea

Dosage: 1-5 g

Remarks: This medication is pharmacodynamically different from the tender stalks used for diaphoretic purposes




Natural distribution: Tropical countries

Parts used: Dried rhizomes

Nature: Pungent; warm

Affinity: Heart, lungs, spleen, stomach, kidneys

Effects: Warming; stimulant to yang- energy; warms the lungs; dissolves phlegm; stomachic; anti-emetic.

Indications: Cold excess in spleen and stomach: nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cold and painful abdomen, cold hands and feet, weak pulse; cold excess in lungs: cough, profuse clear sputum.

Dosage: 3-8 g

Remarks: The fresh root is used as a remedy for colds, cold stomach, nausea and seafood poisoning.




Natural distribution: Southeastern China, Japan, India

Parts used: Fruits

Nature: Pungent and bitter; very hot

Affinity: Liver, stomach, spleen, kidneys

Effects: Warming; analgesic; anti-emetic; anthelmintic

Indications: Abdominal pains due to internal-cold; painful rib-cage; pains in scrotum; dysmenorrhoea; dysfunctions of liver and stomach.

Dosage: 3-5 g

Remarks: Highly effective anthelmintic against pin-worms; tonic to the uterus.




Natural distribution: East Indies, India, West Indies, Brazil

Parts used: Floral buds (cloves)

Nature: Pungent; warm

Affinity: Lungs, stomach, spleen, kidneys

Effects: Warming; anti-emetic; stimulant; carminative; tonic to yang-energy; warms the kidneys.

Indications: Vomiting and burping; yang-deficiency in kidneys; leukorrhoea

Dosage: 2-5 g

Remarks: This is a common remedy for excessive burping; the oil of the cloves is an excellent local anaesthetic; the drug promotes circulation.




Natural distribution: Asia, Europe, North Africa

Parts used: Fruits

Nature: Pungent; warm

Affinity: Liver, kidneys, spleen, stomach.

Effects: Regulates and balances qi; analgesic; stomachic; carminative.

Indications: Ailments of cold excess: hernias and pains in groin, drooping testicle, pain and cold in abdomen; nausea and vomiting due to cold excess in stomach.

Dosage: 2-5 g

Remarks: The drug sometimes causes flatulence and burping.

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