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Many green age people accept the use of Chinese herbs to strengthen their bodies and to cure diseases. They would add Chinese herbs when they prepare soups. When the weather is hot, they would use herbal tea prepared from Chinese herbs to remove the damp heat. When they have an influenza, they would prepare a herbal tea to fight the cold. And they will even put on a patch of Chinese medicine when they twist their ankle or knock against some hard objects. In recent years Chinese medicine is receiving greater and greater attention and universities offer programmes in Chinese medicine to train experts in Chinese medicine and research is being done on it. There are also universities and other organizations which run large Chinese medicine clinics to treat patients and prescribe Chinese medicine.

Most Chinese medicine comes naturally from plants and a small portion from animals and minerals. There is a great variety of Chinese herbs and in Hong Kong we can get more than 2 000 kinds of Chinese herbs from the market. It is not true to say that the more expensive the herbs are, the greater efficacy they will have. The important thing is that the quality must be good and they can fit the nature of the patient’s body and the prescription should address the symptoms. Chinese herbs commonly used at home and those which have been proved by Chinese medicine practitioners in their prescriptions will have all kinds of desired efficacy provided that they are used in a safe manner. In general, the kinds of efficacy can be divided into curing diseases, nursing one’s health and preserving health.

Curing Diseases

After herbs are treated, they can be used either for internal or external uses.

For herbs intended for internal use, they will work through the blood circulation and can affect the whole body. They can make adjustments to the body and remove the causes of diseases. Herbs can be used on different symptoms and body situations and can achieve the following kinds of efficacy:
  • Boosting Health
    When there are problems in body functions or in the internal organs, using herbs which can boost health can strengthen the functions of internal organs and enhance immunity.
  • Removing Symptoms
    When the body has been under the effects of a cold or heat, the use of this kind of herbs can induce sweating and remove such symptoms.
  • Diuretic and Swell Reduction
    Herbs with diuretic and swell reduction effects can be used to cure dampness in the body, problems in the urinary system and sputum in the bronchitis.
  • Reducing Sputum and Relieving Cough
    Herbs can be applied to reduce sputum caused by coldness or heat, and also to relieve cough and asthma.
  • Arresting Discharge
    Herbs can be applied to arrest perspiration, diarrhea, reduce urine, cough, bleeding and so on.
  • Removing Heat
    Herbs can be used to cure external cold and internal heat, diarrhea, damp toxins, deficiency in yin and so on.
  • Enhancing Blood Circulation and Removing Blood Stasis
    Some herbs can enhance blood circulation and remove blood stasis. They can be used in stopping pain in menstrual periods and remove swelling.
  • Stop Bleeding
    Certain herbs can be used to stop internal bleeding and cure symptoms such as blood in coughs, vomiting blood, blood in excreta and urine, as well as blood in external wounds.
  • Promoting Qi
    Some herbs can promote qi, strengthen the spleen and liver, as well as easing depression, activating qi, killing pain, stopping shortness of breath, and relieving asthma.
  • Stabilizing the Mind
    Minerals, shells and seeds of plants can be made into medicine to stabilize the mind, cure palpitation, forgetfulness and too many dreams.
  • Clearing Liver Fire and Calming Endogenous Wind
    Some medicine can be used to cure headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, irritation, spasm and such like symptoms.

Herbs for external application are used locally on the surface of the body part concerned and directly aimed at the part to be treated. The medicine is absorbed via the skin and the curative effect is achieved. Herbs for external use can be applied by rubbing, washing, placing a patch on, put in a medicated bath, and rinsing the mouth. They have various kinds of efficacy like removing swelling and toxin, stopping bleeding, removing pus and relieving itchiness.

Nursing Health

Herbs can be used to treat diseases when they appear and before they appear. Chinese medicine can be used to strengthen the body, speed up recuperation and nurse one’s health, achieve a balance of the blood and qi, enhance body functions and prevent recurrence of the disease concerned.

People with feeble body may use this kind of herbs to nurse their health, improve their health, increase their immunity and hence prevent the incidence of diseases.

Many green age people like to cook long-boiled soups as a way to moisturize their body and nurse health. They will add certain herbs into the soup such as American ginseng for improving the qi, Chinese caterpillar fungus for enhancing lung functions and stopping shortness of breath, Ganoderma for replenishing qi and strengthening the spleen, red dates for pacifying the mind, Barbary wolfberries for strengthen the liver and lung, yam for the spleen and stomach, silver fungus for nourishing yin and moisturizing the lung.

Preserving Health

The aim of preserving health is to live long and that the body and the mind are free from disease. People of green age are likely to have some health problems and so it is important to preserve health because they will stay energetic and ageing is arrested. One way to preserve health is to use good quality herbs. Herbs should suit the nature of the human body and they should conform with the seasons. In spring the aim is to nourish the liver. In summer the heart and also the spleen during the long days of summer. In autumn the aim is to nourish the lung and in winter the kidney. Suitable herbs can regulate and nourish the internal organs so that both the qi and blood can become smooth, yin and yang can become harmonious and one will be full of energy. Then one can live long and enjoy his or her retirement life.

Spring is the time of the year in which the liver is most active and so it is the best time to nourish the liver. In spring the weather can be cold and warm at times and moist, we can choose herbs which can remove dampness and promote metabolism, such as Tufuling, Gordon Euryale, red dates and so on.

In summer the weather is hot and people tend to sweat. Sweat is considered as the liquid of the heart and extreme heat is damaging to health. So in summer we can eat lily bulb, lotus seed, longan, Tufuling and such like herbs which can nourish the heart.

Long summer refers to the time around the end of summer up to the beginning of autumn. The weather is humid and there is much rain. This dampness affects the spleen and hence digestion and absorption of nourishments. So we should take care of the spleen and consume lentil, small red beans, yam and Tufuling and so on.

In autumn the weather is dry and we should avoid dryness and nourish the lung. We can eat lily bulb, Beishasheng, Yuzhu, silver fungus, almond, Chuanbeimu, dendrobium, American ginseng and so on.

In winter the weather is cold and there will be a decline in yang in the body. Hence the kidney should be strengthened and consideration should be made to the body nature and consume herbs like Duzhong, yam, Yuzhu, Ganoderma, American ginseng and so on.

In addition, with ageing, green age people will find their hair mixed with grey hair and various ageing problems appear in their skin. There are herbs which can make the hair stay shiny and resist the effect of ageing. These are: Yiyi, yam, Barbary wolfberries, silver fungus, papaya, Duzhong, Heshouwu, pearl and so on.

Health is invaluable. People are paying more attention to health and how to stay healthy. Many herbs have been turned into pellets and powder for easy consumption. However, as different people have different physique and conditions, so they should not blindly follow the trend or listen to what people say. They must know their body nature and the ingredients and efficacy of the herbs. They should seek the advice of a registered practitioner of Chinese medicine. Only by doing so that they can gain the effects of Chinese herbs in curing the body, making adjustments and staying healthy.

Please refer to the following websites on information concerning the efficacy of Chinese herbs: