Herbs and Their Lore

The Wonders of Chinese Herbs and Their Legends

Chinese herbal medicine has been practiced for thousands of years, boasting a rich history and tradition. This article explores the fascinating world of Chinese herbs, delving into the various aspects that contribute to their legendary status. By understanding their names, dosages, common uses, and more, we gain insight into their roles in maintaining health and wellness.

Names and Classification

Chinese herbs are identified by their pinyin, the Romanized version of their Chinese name. These names often represent ideas or objects rather than speech sounds. A single herb may have multiple common names, although this article focuses on the most frequently used ones.

Herbs are classified into 20 different classes, with some belonging to multiple classes. In biology, the classification system consists of various subdivisions, including family and scientific or botanical name.

Indications and Uses

Chinese herbs are utilized to treat specific symptoms and diseases. However, it is crucial to consider the herb's actions before using it for treatment, as different causes may require different approaches. The pharmaceutical name of an herb typically consists of two or more words, with the first word representing the plant part used as the herb and the remaining words denoting the overall plant.

Parts of the Plant

Different parts of a plant can be used as herbs, with varying functions. These include leaves, roots, stems, fruit, and seeds. Each part may have distinct medicinal properties, and the appropriate part must be used to ensure effective treatment.

Dosage and Consumption

Dosages for Chinese herbs are typically indicated for one day's consumption for an adult. These dosages should be reduced for children depending on their age, with specific guidelines for those aged between 6-13, 3-5, and under 3 years old.

Flavor and Energy

Chinese herbs possess different flavors, such as sweet, bitter, pungent, salty, sour, light, or constrictive. They may also be classified by their energy, being cold, cool, warm, hot, or neutral.

Meridians and Actions

In Chinese herbal medicine, there are 12 meridians through which herbs may travel after digestion. When an herb acts on a meridian, it affects the related organ. The actions of herbs are essential to consider, as they provide evidence for their applications in treating specific conditions.


Chinese herbs have been revered for their medicinal properties for millennia. By understanding their various aspects, such as names, classifications, indications, and uses, we can appreciate their role in promoting health and well-being. As interest in alternative medicine continues to grow, the legends surrounding these herbs will undoubtedly endure and contribute to our understanding of holistic healing practices.