integrating plants into chinese medicine from outside china1

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This is a PPT from a lecture I gave recently in Taiwan. I will be using a revised version of this to teach some classes this Summer in the US.


  • 1. Integrating Plants into Chinese Medicine from Outside China: A Methodology
    Thomas Avery Garran

2. Why is this important?
Chinese medicine is an evolving system, if there is a way to improve it, we should try to do so.
Although there are over 5000 plants used throughout China, only about 500 (10%) are used beyond local traditions. This is primarily because the best has been culled out and into the primary medicine.
3. Difference between Chinese medicine practiced in the West and in Asia
In the West many patients are already using some of Western herbs
Western herbs are often higher quality
The use of Western herbs is more sustainable
4. History
Chinese medicine has long history of integrating plants from outside of Chinese into Chinese medicine
Example: myrrh, frankincense, American ginseng, corn silk, turmeric, coix, evodia, cinnamon, etc.
5. Tools
Historical usage
Understanding thoroughly how a plant has been used historically
Botanical relationships
Very important as traditionally there have been plants used from same genus or even family as the same herb within Chinese medicine, ex.
Knowledge and experience in Chinese medicine
6. Historical Usage
Understanding the systems plants have been used in
This can be complicated in the West
Understanding the historical usage of plants
Because of the above, this is both complicating and helpful
7. Historical Usage
Looking at different descriptions of plant usage
Finding similarities throughout this history
Finding connections between descriptions in Western literature and Chinese theory and materiamedica
Arnica montana
8. Hypericum perfoliatum
Acute and chronic tissue inflammation
Wound healer
Used both internally and externally
Lightens the spirits
For anxiety, depression
9. Avena fatua
Strengthens the male sex organs
Nourishes the exhausted body
Builds blood and energy
Soothes the mind
Helps anxiety and insomnia when exhausted
10. Arnica montana
Acute pain from trauma
Used both internally and externally
Chest pain and heart problems
11. Botanical Relationships
History of using botanically related plants
Many plants in Chinese medicine have been used as the same medicine; several species of Actaea (cimicifuga) used as sheng ma (), Angelica as du huo (), Glycyrrhiza (), etc.
Relationships within families; Apiaceae (Heracleum being used as Angelica (), Asteraceae, etc.
Genus polygala, calamus, cassia, actaea, clematis
12. How we can use these relationships
A Western herb with related plant(s) in Chinese medicine; caulophyllum, angelica, polygala, calamus, lobelia, etc.
Sometimes this there is very different information; lobelia
Sometimes there is very similar information; calamus, angelica
13. Family Relationships
From to Leucanthemumvulgare
From to Hydrastiscanadensis
From to Monardapunctata
14. Leucanthemumvulgare
Mildly stimulate circulation
Diaphoretic (combine with ginger)
Painful menstruation with congestion and scant flow, especially chronic
Emotional issues with foul stomach and nervous tendencies
Temper heat and refresh the liver
15. Hydrastis canadensis
Tonic to the digestion (stomach)
Atonic secretions
Stimulates digestion
Soothes irritation of feeble & congested mucus membranes
Ulceration of the bowels (combine with )
Palpitations combine with Leonorus and Scutellaria
Sore throat
External inflammations and infections
16. Monarda punctata
Mild, diffusive, stimulating and relaxing antispasmodic nervine and carminative
Warming to the stomach, relieves vomiting and diarrhea, especially from acute illness
Diaphoretic for colds, catarrhal fever and eruptive fevers
17. Genus Relationships
Chinese name (multiple species used)
Multiple species used
Chinese names and (multiple species used)
Chinese name (multiple species used)
Chinese names and and others *
Chinese name (two or more species used)
Chinese name (multiple species used)
18. Polygala senaga
Stimulate expectoration for chronic coughs with excessive phlegm
Used in chronic asthma
Considered warm and stimulating
19. Angelica archangelica
Diaphoretic for cold conditions
Dysmenorrhea or amenorrhea do to cold
Cough with abundant mucus
Cold pains in the digestive tract
Comforts the heart, blood and spirit
20. Ligusticum porterii; L. grayii
Head ache do to cold
Sore throat with common cold
Dysmenorrhea or amenorrhea
Body aches and pains do to invasion of external influences or injury
21. Leonorus cardiaca
Dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, or pain in the back during menstruation
Lochia not arriving or scant, especially with after-pains
Suppressed labor
Pain in the chest with palpitations and nervousness
Chronic nervousness, anxiety, insomnia associated with anemia
22. Scutellaria lateriflora
Nervous exhaustion
Insomnia, anxiousness, hypochondria
Antispasmodic; nervous headache, dysmenorrhea, neuralgia
Used for drug and alcohol withdrawals
23. Scrophularia nodosa, S. californica
Red, hot swollen lymph nodes
Red, hot swollen skin diseases
Painful and irregular menstruation with irritation and excitation
Externally for burns, inflammation, sore nipples, eczema, hemorrhoids
Obstinate ulcers, the result of a depraved state of the fluids and solids, are frequently benefited by its use.
24. Taraxacum officinale
Congestion of the liver and spleen
Digestive weakness
Inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract, especially from epidemic illnesses
25. Special Properties
Understanding how the flavors function
The concept of a temperature in different systems may vary
Understanding of the over-all function of the herb
Channels entered
Affinity to organs or areas of the body
26. Experience
The most important aspect
Experiment on yourself
Keep good notes
27. Thank You!


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