Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) utilizes a large variety of herbs and natural remedies as medicine. These remedies include plants, minerals, animal/insect parts, fungi, and other kinds of supplementation. TCM recognizes that everything is energy, and so unique energies that can impact the human body and energy system are not limited to the plant kingdom.
This holistic healing system uses herbs in a truly unique way: in combination. In a TCM formula the individual herbs used combine to make a substance that is much more powerful that the sum of the individual parts. In a formula the herbs act together as a team, with each herb performing a specific task within the body, to achieve the objective of the formula as a whole.
All remedies are classified according to the Four Natures and Five Flavors. The Four Natures are Hot, Warm, Cool, and Cold. The different natures of the medicine help to balance yin and yang; Warm and Hot remedies treat yin or cold diseases, while Cool and Cold treat yang or Hot diseases. The Five Flavors, which correspond to the Five Elements, refer to the taste of the medicine:
- Acrid-Aids the lungs and stimulates moisture production.
- Sweet-Aids the spleen, particularly with digestion and is associated with calming properties and producing fluids.
- Sour-Aids the liver’s functions and has moistening and softening affects, particularly when it comes to tendons and ligaments. It also help reabsorb fluids that have left the body dampness.
- Bitter-Aids the heart and has heat-removing properties, such as drying.
- Salty-Aids the kidneys and has properties of dryness, which can help in removing moisture and softening hardness.