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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 10-25

Tonic herbs and herbal mixtures in Chinese medicine

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Johannes Gutenberg University, Staudinger Weg 5, 55128 Mainz, Germany
2 Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, China

Correspondence Address:
Thomas Efferth
Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Johannes Gutenberg University, Staudinger Weg 5, 55128 Mainz
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.15806/j.issn.2311-8571.2015.0037

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This review results from a PubMed-based data-mining of scientific literature concerning typical tonic herbs and formulas of Chinese herbal medicine and their application principle under the theory of CM. We have focused on two aspects of tonic activity: body tonification against qi 气-, blood血-, yin阴- and yang阳-deficiency, respectively, and organ (Zang 脏and Fu腑) tonification against heart-, liver-, spleen/stomach-, lung-, and kidney-deficiency, respectively. Body-tonifying herbs are: Astragalus Membranaceus Radix (Huang-qi黄芪) and Panax Ginseng Radix (Ren-shen人参) for qi-tonification; Angelicae Sinensis Radix (Dang-gui当归) and Rehmannia Glutinosa Radix Preparata (Shu-di熟地) for blood-tonification; Ophiopogon Japonicus Radix (Mai-dong麦冬) and Scrophularia Ningpoensis Radix (Xuan-shen玄参) for yin-deficiency; Myristica Fragrans Semen (Rou-dou-kou肉豆蔻) and Psoralea Corylifolia Fructus (Bu-gu-zhi补骨脂) for yang-deficiency. The corresponding CM formulas are: Bu-zhong-yi-qi decoction (补中益气汤) for qi-tonification; Si-wu decoction (四物汤) for blood-tonification; Zeng-ye decoction (增液汤) for yin-tonification; Si-shen pill (四神丸) for yang-tonification. Organ-tonifying herbs are: Glycyrrhizae Uralensis Radix Preparata (Zhi-gan-cao炙甘草) and Rehmannia Glutinosa Radix (Di-huang地黄) for heart-tonification; Lycium Barbarum Fructus (Gou-qi-zi枸杞子) and Angelicae Sinensis Radix (Dang-gui当归) for liver-tonification; Panax Ginseng Radix (Ren-shen人参) and Atractylodis Macrocephala Rhizoma (Bai-zhu白术) for spleen/stomach-tonification; Panax Ginseng Radix (Ren-shen人参) and Astragalus Membranaceus Radix (Huang-qi黄芪) for lung-tonification; Cornus Officinalis Fructus (Shan-zhu-yu山茱萸) and Dioscorea Opposite Rhizoma (Shan-yao山药) for kidney-tonification. The corresponding CM formulas are: Zhi-gan-cao decoction (炙甘草汤) for heart-tonification; Yi-guan decoction (一贯煎) for liver-tonification; Shen-ling-bai-zhu powder (参苓白术散) for spleen/stomach-tonification; Bu-fei decoction (补肺汤) for lung-tonification; Liu-wei-di-huang pill (六味地黄丸) for kidney tonification. These herbs and formulas were described regarding their efficacy, reasonable use and unreasonable abuse specific to different patients with different symptoms. The scientific investigation on efficacy and safety of Chinese formulas will propel the acceptance and spread of TCM in the western world for the sake of patients worldwide.

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