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H for Herbs

For millennia, the Chinese have been researching the effects of herbs on the human body and establishing their effective dosing. Nowhere else in the world herbal medicine is as popular and as sophisticated as it is in China.
Chinese medicine is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. Its origins go back a few thousand years. Chinese medicine is holistic in nature - it sees man in connection with all aspects of their life. This means that the desired outcome of the treatment is not merely the elimination of a single illness or ailment, but rather the healing of the entire body.

The basic message of Chinese medicine as well as philosophy or cuisine is harmony. According to the Chinese, health - and thus longevity - can be attained solely through taking care of the harmony between man and nature, man and the cosmos, man and his or her organs. Chinese medicine appeals both to the ying and yang theory as well as to the Five Phases (Five Elements).
Prevent rather than treat

In China, the stress is on prophylaxis: an illness is not to be treated but rather to be prevented. A Chinese doctor, before they decide on the treatment, first attempts to grasp to the root cause of the condition. The diagnosis is made based on pulse measurement, tongue, skin and eye examination, while the therapy is assigned with not only the illness in mind, but also the season or even the day of the year. The components of Chinese medicine are: acupuncture, acupressure, proper diet, various massage techniques, gymnastics (mainly Tai-Chi), respiratory meditation but above all – herbal medicine.

TIENS Group, taking advantage of the achievements of Chinese medicine, applies different types of herbs in its supplements, for instance various kinds of green tea or evening primrose oil. Please refer to the descriptions of TIENS products to learn more on this topic.


Herbs as the basis

The Chinese believe herbs and proper nutrition can affect human health in a similar manner. The differentiating factor here is the strength of the influence. Aside from this, the connection between herbal medicine and nutrition can be seen also in the fact not only the plants known as medicinal in Europe are considered herbal medicine in China. As such are considered also spices widely used in cooking and even substances of mineral or animal origin, for example snake skin.
Chinese medicine divides herbs on the basis of their properties into: the strongly cooling and cooling, which belong to the yin realm; and the warming and highly warming connected with yang. The cold herbs work on hot illnesses and vice versa. For example, mint is among the cold herbs and ginger belongs to the hot ones. Most often an illness causes both cold and hot symptoms. It is, therefore, crucial to properly choose the herbs for a given ailment.

Treatment with flavour

The flavour of the herbs is also given consideration in Chinese medicine. According to the Chinese, a given flavour works on certain conditions. And thus, spicy flavour enhances energy circulation and stimulates metabolism. sweet strengthens the immune, respiratory and digestive systems. Bitter flavour lowers fever, sour has astringent properties, while salty cleanses the intestines.

The Emperor, Minister, Helper and the Messenger

In Chinese herbal medicine it is not only important to choose the herbs accordingly to the illness, but as well their proper preparation. They can be either traditionally brewed, but also boiled in water, consumed as powder or even stewed, fried or… baked. The Chinese pay special attention to proper combining of all the ingredients of a herbal mixture since some of the herbs applied in combination can weaken or enhance their respective action.

In accordance to traditional Chinese medicine, a recipe for a herbal medicament should include four components: a so-called Emperor, a Minister, a Helper and a Messenger. The first, the Emperor is the herb aimed at the target illness. It is the leading herb in the medicament. The second herb, the Minister is meant to enhance the action of the Emperor. In turn, the Helper is on one hand designed to weaken the possibly too strong effect of the main two ingredients; and on the other hand it is meant to aid their absorption. Its role is also to act on the actual symptoms of the disorder. The last ingredient, i.e. the Messenger is there to deliver the herbs to the afflicted organ.


For health and beauty

It is not only medicine that takes advantage of the Chinese herbs. They are also applied in cosmetology due to the fact they contain large amounts of vitamins, minerals or flavonoids. Among the most popular are green tea, aloe vera, gingko biloba, ginseng and seaweeds. Let us take aloe vera for instance. When used in medicine, it is beneficial for blood vessels, enhances the body’s immunity, treats skin symptoms or gastritis. However, when applied in cosmetology, aloe vera in the form of creams, balms and masks, effectively moisturises and prevents hair loss.

How not to cause harm?

Most of the herbal remedies used in Chinese herbal medicine have stronger action than the popular herbs known in Europe. They are not to be applied on one’s own as this may do more harm than potential benefit. Firstly, in order to safely use them one needs the knowledge and experience in the field of Chinese medicine. Secondly, herbal remedies are chosen for the individual, both in terms of dosage and composition. Hence something that would benefit our neighbour may not necessarily help us. Thirdly, the Eastern and Western medicine are usually two entirely different treatment approaches. The medicines used in one do not have to, although may, cancel the effect of the remedies applied in the other. Therefore, one always needs to inform both the Chinese and the conventional medicine doctor about the medication one takes. This will definitely influence the effectiveness of the herbal therapy.


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