The Ancient Knowledge Of The East – Chinese Herbal Medicne
The arsenal of drugs used in Chinese medicine is exceeding two thousands of units. Not less than three-quarters of this amount falls to the lot of plant origin drugs – roots, flowers, herbs, fruits, etc.; while the remainder falls on drugs of animal and mineral origin. This is nothing but weighty evidence of the essential role of herbs in Chinese traditional medicine. The state of affairs is facilitated by the fact that China is the habitat for myriads of medicinal plants.
The experience of using drugs has been stockpiled for several thousand years. In the Tang period (618 – 909BC) the collection of wild medicinal herbs had no chance to meet the increased demand, so an acute need in the cultural cultivation of these plants arose. In that period, numerous plantations of medicinal herbs and other medicinal plants emerged. However, despite the great therapeutic value, the effectiveness and properties of many drugs remain unstudied.
Currently, medicinal plants, used for centuries in Chinese herbal medicine, have become quite widely used in both clinic and outpatient treatment, yet researchers discover more noteworthy properties on a constant basis. In recent years, as a result of clinical and scientific trials, it was found that Dichroa Febrifuga, Brucea Javanica and a number of other means demonstrate formidable efficiency in treating malaria, while Coptis Teeta and Pulsatilla Cernua can be successfully used in bacillary dysentery treatment.
The miraculous Huang Lian effect
For example, in 1956 doctors Shanghai City Hospital prescribed Huang Lian in the form of decoction. In 240 cases, the treatment of bacillary dysentery was more then successful. As a rule, after taking Huang Lian decoction on the second or third day the general condition of the patient improves and the temperature drops to normal.
The control group was represented by sick children treated with sulfanilamide preparations, the second group of children suffering from dysentery was treated with chlormethine antibiotic. The additional treatment in all three groups was exactly the same (saline, glucose, vitamins, painkillers and other means were prescribed). As a result, it was found that in the treatment of bacterial dysentery Huang Lian broth is more effective than sulfa drugs, though it was outperformed by chlormethine-based preparations.
A similar fate awaited Du Zhong (Eucommia Ulmoides) and Huang Qin (Scutellaria Baicaiensis) – powerful herbs that can be successfully used for the treatment of hypertension; and Yin-chen (Artemisia Capillaris), acting like a very effective cholagogue agent. Decent results are also demonstrated by such diuretics as Ban Bian Lian (Lobelia), while Dong Quai (Angelica Polymorpha) is particularly good at regulating menstruation and eliminating uterine bleeding. The international fame was deservedly acquired by such Chinese herbal remedies such as ginseng and Chinese magnolia vine, boasting incredible tonic, stimulating and firming action.
The wonder of the world
Ginseng is known in China for nearly four thousand years and has long been considered to be one of the most valuable medicines. It was first mentioned in ancient Chinese writings describing drugs (Shennong Ben Cao Jing, dated 1st century BC).
The famous Chinese pharmacologist, Li Shizhen, in his remarkable essay on drugs dedicated special attention to ginseng and comprehensively described its properties. In China, this herb, oftentimes referred to as ‘the wonder of the world’, ‘divine grass’, ‘root of life’, is represented through a combination of characters: gin – man and seng – life.
Ginseng is a perennial herb with multiple roots, long leaves and pale green flowers. It is native to China, Korea and Primorsky Krai of the Russian Federation. At the moment the effect of ginseng on the human body is studied quite well; unquestionably proved that ginseng positively affects the cerebral cortex and increases performance capabilities. Ginseng is also used in the treatment of neurasthenia, hypotension, general weakness, physical and mental exhaustion, depression conditions, increased sleepiness, and many other problems. There is evidence that ginseng ointment accelerates wound healing. In China, it is not recommended to use ginseng as a general tonic during hot summer months. It is believed that ginseng provides the most pronounced therapeutic and restorative effect in winter.
Another valuable drug (pictured above), providing exciting, stimulating effect on the central nervous system, is Magnolia Denudata (or Chinese magnolia). This shrub, growing in China, Primorsky and Khabarovsk territories of the Russian Federation, is applied as a powder or infusion of the dried fruit and seeds. Chinese Magnolia is taken advantage of in treating physical and mental fatigue and excessive sleepiness.
Chinese herbal medicine – the peculiarities of action
The drugs used in Chinese traditional medicine are mainly characterized by a slow and gradual action on the body of the patient compared to modern chemotherapeutic drugs. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of many traditional medicines in some cases surpasses the neoteric pharmaceuticals. It is oftentimes believed that a reasonable combination of techniques and tools used for thousands of years in Chinese traditional medicine with modern methods of treatment, in particular with the latest antibiotics, vitamins, hormones, and etc. helps to achieve outstanding results.
For several thousand years, Chinese traditional medicine has been enriched by numerous effective treatment methods of various diseases. A good example of such disease, successfully treated by means of traditional medicine, is hemorrhoids. Actually, ancient Chinese chronicles described over 500 treatment methods for hemorrhoids, including internal and external therapies, acupuncture, moxibustion and many more.
The unparalleled efficiency of several methods contributed to integrating a number of treatment approaches into hospitals in China. Thus, in 1952 one of these herbal remedies, Ku Shen, was successfully applied in traditional medicine hospital of the city of Chongqing. Subsequently, the method was added to the armory of clinics in Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing and other major cities. Clinical observations have shown that the treatment is valued for certain advantages with simplicity and non-surgery type among them. The method’s spreading was accelerated by due to impressive effectiveness, virtually recurrence and no rectal sphincter contraction. This method can be widely used in the treatment of elderly patients and debilitated; outpatient treatment is also possible.
The ultimate power of chinese herbs
It is now established that the various herbal remedies have a beneficial therapeutic effect in many other diseases, such as jaundice, hepatitis, leprosy, asthma, eczema, atopic dermatitis, neuralgia, paresis and paralysis, hypertension, encephalitis, disorder menstruation, inflammatory diseases of the uterus, as well as malaria, blindness, chronic nephritis in a late stage and others. And undoubtedly, searching a primary remedy for treating of this or that disease among Chinese natural medicines is always a reasonable way to go.