Chinese Medicine: The Most Significant Substances and Their Indications

By John Amaro, LAc, DC, Dipl. Ac.(NCCAOM), Dipl.Med.Ac.(IAMA)
With the incredible popularity of Chinese herbs and traditional Chinese medicine formulae over the last few years in North America, Australia and Europe, it behooves practitioners to become familiar, or at least aware, of the individual herbs and substances which comprise the majority of formulas, along with their indications.

Ninety-nine percent of all contemporary practitioners will undoubtedly opt to use in their practice ancient formulae which have been tableted and created for today's practitioner instead of spending thousands of hours learning how to formulate these ancient remedies themselves. In our busy practices and lives, we cannot expect to practice the same way it was done during the Ming dynasty and before. Utilizing Chinese herbology today has never been easier. Even with this in mind, knowledge of each individual substance, along with the English translation and indications, could prove to be a very valuable reference tool.

The following list should be saved for future reference. Notice the list is in alphabetical order by Chinese name, followed by the English common name and indications. Should the need for a specific formula arise in which you are stymied not knowing where to look, fax the details to me at 602-488-5008; we will do the best we can to advise you and assist you in locating a patent formula or to create one specifically for your needs.

Chinese name English name Indications
a-chiao gelatin Treats yin weakness
ai-yeh artemisia Quiets the fetus, dispels gas
ch'ai-hu bupleurum Regulates menstruation, antipyretic
ch'an-shui cicada Disperses heat, stops convulsions
che-chien-tzu plantago Diuretic, clears fevers, detoxifies
ch'en-pi tangerine Expectorant, energy tonic
chen-hsiang aquilaria Alleviates pain, reinforces the kidney
chi-li-tzu tribulus Promotes milk production in nursing mothers
chi-lien coptis Digestive, antidysenteric
chiang ginger Food poisoning, cold extremities
chiang-huang tumeric Stimulates the gallbladder
ch'iang-huo chianghuo Diaphoretic, analgesic
chieh-keng platycodon Reduces swelling, promotes pus drainage
chien-chih gardenia Antipyretic, snake bite
chuien-chin-tzu euphorbia Poisonous, purgative, used externally for skin and sores
chien-niu-tzu morning glory Promotes menstruation, induces abortion
chih-ko bitter orange Antidiarrhetic, abdominal swelling, indigestion
chih-mu anemarrhena Antipyretic, urinary and bowel disorders
chih-shao peony Lessens perspiration, purifies yin, night sweats, fever
chih-tzu gardenia See "chien-chih"
chin-chieh schizonepeta Cerebral hemorrhage with aphasia, any bleeding
chin-chiu gentian Relieves pain, promotes diuresis and sweating
chin-yin-hua lonicera Clears fevers and detoxifies
chin-ying tzu rosa Detoxifies, menstrual regularity
ching-san-leng scirpus Stimulates menstrual flow, promotes milk production
chiu-chieh-chang-pu anemone Vermifugal, antitoxic
chu-hua chrysanthemum Antipyretic, headache with fever, vertigo
chu-ju bamboo Expectorant, antipyretic
chu-li bamboo sap Removes internal heat
chu-ling grifolia Diuretic
chu-sha cinnabar Settles nerves, convulsions, fear palpitations
chuan-chiao zanthoxylum Dispels chills and cold, counteracts moisture
ch'uan-hsiung conidium Stops childbirth bleeding, induces uterine contraction
ch'uan-hou-po magnolia bark Antispasmodic, abdominal distention, gastritis
chuan-ku nuphar Gynecological conditions, irregular menstruation
chuan-wu aconite Analgesic, antiarthritic
erh-cha catechu Hemostatic, expectorant
fan-hsieh-yeh cassia Smoothes bowel movement
fan-hung-hua saffron Difficult labor, dead fetus, prolonged menstruation
fan-mu-pieh strychnine Debility, convalescence from severe illness
fang-chi stephania Antispasmodic, antipyretic
fang-feng siler Analgesic, antipyretic
feng-jou siler Analgesic, antipyretic
feng-la beeswax Coating of pills, base for ointments
fu-pen-tzu woodberry Prevents graying, vigor, respiration
fu-ling poria Treats spleen and stomach
fu-shen poria Treats spleen and stomach
fu-tzu aconite Analgesic, antiarthritic
ho-shou-wu polygonum Promotes fertility, builds vitality, strengthens ligaments
ho-tzu terminalia Stimulates intestines, strengthens lungs
hsi-hsin asarum Analgesic, sedative
hsi-yang-shen ginseng Mental stability, dispels fire, produces body fluids
hsia-ku-tsao prunella Antirheumatic, red, swelling, itching eyes
hsiang-fu-tzu cyperus Corrects "chi" circulation, alleviates pain, melancholia
hsiao-hui-hsiang fennel Abdominal distention, promotes digestion
hsiao-mai wheat Reduces fever
hsiao-tou-kou cardamon Digestion
hsieh-chieh calamus Blood circulation, stops bleeding, knife wounds
hsien-mi rice Stabilizes pulmonary and intestinal function
hsin-i magnolia flower Alleviates pain, see "mu-pi"
hsing-jen apricot Antispasmodic, sedative
hsu-tuan dipsacus Blood circulation, premature labor, trauma injuries
hsuan-fu-hua inula Intestinal fullness, pulmonary disorders
hsuan-hu corydalis Trauma injuries, relieves pain, stimulates energy
hsuan-shen` scrophularia Anti-inflammatory, thirst from stress, fever, lowers heat
hu-chiao black pepper Warms and aids elimination, ch'i stagnancy in chest
hu-ma-you sesame oil Anti-inflammatory, ringworm, itching, insect bites
hu-po amber Convulsive disorders in children, epilepsy
hua-chiao pepper Expels worms and parasites
hua-shih talc Anti-inflammatory, quenches thirst, sunstroke
huai-hua sophora Strengthens blood vessels, hemoptysis, nosebleed
huang-chi astragalus Stops perspiration, strengthens spleen, night sweats
huang-ch'in scute (skullcap) Reduces fever, quiets the fetus, removes moist heat
huang-ching polygonatum Nourishes liver and kidney, promotes fertility, vitality
huang-la beeswax Used for coating pills, base for ointments
huang-lien coptis Antipyretic, antidysenteric, heart distress
huang-po philodendron Abdominal distention, digestion, constipation
hung-hua carthamus Clears meridian channels, hemorrhage after childbirth
hung-tsao jujube Calms nerves, insomnia, forgetfulness, cardiac function
huo-hsiang agastache Strengthens stomach and stops vomiting, clears fever
i-chih-jen ichihjen Stimulant, tonic, a stomachic
i-i-jen coix Pulmonary disorders, rheumatoid arthritis
i-mi-jen coix Pulmonary disorders, rheumatoid arthritis
i-yi-jen coix Pulmonary disorders, rheumatoid arthritis
jen-shen ginseng See "hsi-yang-shen"
jou-tou-kou nutmeg Vomiting, food stagnancy, pain in the stomach
jou-tsung-jung cistanche General tonic, aphrodisiac, impotence, infertility
ju-hsiang olibanum (mastic) Analgesic, sedative, resolves bruises and clots
kan-ts'ao licorice Relaxant, supplements energy, see "tiao-tsao"
kao-liang-chiang lesser galangal Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea
kao pen ligusticum Antispasmodic, antiarthritic, dispels "wind", benefits skin
keng-mi rice (oryza) Intestinal function, poor appetite, indigestion
ko-ken pueraria Alcoholic intoxication, antipyretic
kou-chi chain fern Excellent tonic for older men, strengthens spine
kou-chi-tzu lychee Strengthens kidneys, restores semen, nourishes liver
kou-teng gambir Infantile fever, hypertension with headache, convulsions
ku-mu picrasma Stomach symptoms
k'u-shen sophora Relieves fever, kills insects, scabies, hives
kua-lou trichosanthes Aids pus drainage, reduces swelling, detoxifies
kua-lou-ken trichosanthes Aids pus drainage, reduces swelling, detoxifies
kuan-mu-tung aristolochia See "ma-tou-ling"
kuan-mu-hsiang saussurea Promotes energy circulation, abdominal symptoms
kuei-chih cinnamon Relaxes muscles, stimulates appetite
kuei-p'i cinnamon Relaxes muscles, stimulates appetite
la-chiao capsicum Promotes sweating, stimulant
liang-chiang lesser galangal See "kao-liang-chiang"
lien-ch'iao forsythia Relieves heat, swelling, and suppuration, erysipelas
lu-chiao deer horn Antispasmodic, antipyretic, tonic, stimulant
lu-hui aloe In conjunction with licorice for eczema
lung-ku dragon bone Anxiety, nightmares, sedative
lung-tan gentian Intercostal pain, chills, fever, sore throat
lung-yen-jou longan Amnesia, palpitations caused by fear, insomnia
ma-huang mahuang Bronchial dilator, stimulates respiration, raises BP
ma-tou-ling aristolochia Relieves coughing, asthma and bronchitis, expectorant
mai-men-tung ophiopogon Regulates lungs and heart
man-chin-tzu vitex Antipyretic, tonic, headache, vertigo
mang-hsiao magnesium sulphate Laxative, reduces fever, expectorant
m-shih-tzu oakgall Chief source of tannic acid, bleeding from cuts
mo-yao myrrh Analgesic, externally applied to scabies, painful boils
mou-tan-p'i moutan Antipyretic
mu-kua Chinese quince Improves gastric function, relaxes muscles
mu-li oyster shell Clears fever, breaks up congestion, night sweats
mu-pi magnolia flower Alleviates pain
mu-t'ung akebia Promotes urination, counteracts inflammation and fever
nan-sha-shen adenophora Nourishes yin and purifies the lungs, excess phlegm
niui-hsi achyranthes Strengthens muscles and bone, heals bruises, pus drain
niu-pang-tzu burdock Antipyretic, diuretic, chills, fever, dermatitis
o-shu zedoary Stimulates menstrual flow, stagnancy of ch'i and blood
pa-chi-tien morinda Strengthens bones and ligaments, anti-arthritic
pa-chiao-hui-hsiang anise Abdominal pain, vomiting, anorexia
pa-tou croton Violent purgative
pai-chi bletilla Knife wounds, burns, nosebleeds
pai-chih angelica Promotes pus drainage, dispels gas
pai-chu atractylodes General tonic, see "tsang-chu"
pai-ho tiger lily Palpitations due to fear, antitussive, antipyretic, diuretic
pai-hsien-p'i Chinese dittany Loosens stiff joints, eliminates wet fevers
pai-pu stemona Calms the respiration, colds, coughs
pai-shao peony Spasms of the arms and legs, strengthens blood
pai-tou-kou cardamon Gastritis, belching, abdominal distention
pai-tou-weng Chinese anemone Eliminates fever
pai-tzu-su perilla See "tzu-su"
pai-wei cynanchum Yin weakness, fever due to wind
pan-hsia pinellia Reduces expectoration, cough, vomiting, asthma
pei-hsin asarum Analgesic, sedative, expectorant, diuretic
pei-mu fritillary Loosens congestion, resolves phlegm, fever
pei-wu-wei schizandra Strengthens lungs and kidneys
pi-hsieh tokoro Antirheumatic, diuretic
pi-ma-tzu castor oil plant Throat paralysis, drooping eyes/mouth
pi-pa long pepper Antipyretic, gastric fullness, watery diarrhea
pi-pa-yeh eriobotrya (loquat) Lowers excess energy, quiets cough
pi-tao-kan persica Injuries from falling, see "t'ao-jen"
pieh-chia turtle shell Cools fever, infantile epilepsy, debilitating fever
pien-tou dolichos Arrests diarrhea and vomiting, abdominal distention
pin-lang betel nut Intestinal parasites, chest pain, abdominal pain
po-ho mint Stomachic, sore throat
po-tzu-jen arbor vita Expectorant, nutritive tonic
pu-huang cattail Prolonged menstruation, aching arms after childbirth
pu-ku-chih psoralea Sexual dysfunction, threatened abortion, impotence
san-chi pseudoginseng Bleeding disorders, nosebleeds, hemoptysis
sang-chi-sheng loranthus Backache, stiff joints, arthritis
sang-pai-pi mulberry Relieves lung congestion, promotes diuresis
sha-jen Chinese cardamon Abdominal pain, distention, gastric disorders
sha-jen-k'o Chinese cardamon Abdominal pain, distention, gastric disorders
sha-k'o Chinese cardamon Abdominal pain, distention, gastric disorders
shan-cha crataegus Distention in the chest and abdomen, food stagnancy
shan-chu-yu cornus Liver and kidney dysfunction, tinnitus
shan-nai galangal Dandruff, scabies
shan-yao dioscorea (yam) Nutrient tonic, digestant
shang-lu phytolacca Externally used for foul sores, poisonous
she-hsiang musk deer Antispasmodic, analgesic, convulsions, apoplexy
sheng-chiang ginger Food poisoning, nausea, abdominal distention
sheng-ma cimicifuga Chronic diarrhea, uterine prolapse, antipyretic
sheng-ti rehmannia Premature graying, cardiotonic, hemostatic
shih-chang-pu acorus Analgesic, vermifugal, externally applied to carbuncles
shih-chun-tzu quisqualis Vermifugal, abdominal pain due to parasites
shih-hu dendrobium Nourishes yin and promotes salivation
shih-kao gypsum Speech disorders, extreme thirst, dry mouth, heat symptoms
shih-lien-tzu lotus Tonic
su-hsia pinellia Stops bleeding, reduces inflammation, strengthens SP
suan-tsao-jen zizyphus Insomnia due to stress, palpitations, sedative
suo-yang cynomorium Strengthens kidneys and gonads, impotence, tonic
ta-chi knoxia Diuretic
ta-fu-pi betel nut See "pin-lang"
ta-huang rhubarb Constipation, indigestion, stomachic
ta-ma-jen cannabis Constipation, substituted by linum usitatissimum
ta-tsao jujube Regulates cardiac and pulmonary function
tan-chu-yeh lophatherum Clears fever, irritability
tan-hsiang sandal wood breathing
tan-tou-shih soja Relaxes muscles, clears fever, apprehension, irritability
tang-kuei tang-kuei Headache, lower back, meridian blockage, circulation
t'ao-jen persica Injuries from falling, mental instability, sedative
teng-hsin-tsao juncus Sedative, diuretic
ti-huang rehmannia Cardiotonic, hemostatic
ti-ku-pi lyceum bark Antipyretic, cough, fever
ti-yu sanguisorba Postpartum difficulties, snake and insect bites
tiao-teng gambir Flatulence, vertigo, hypertension with headache
tiao-tsao licorice Supplements energy, loosens phlegm, intoxication
tien-ma gastrodia Anti-gas, quiets muscle spasms
tien-nan-hsing arisaema Relieves spasms and pain, reduces swelling
ting-hsiang cloves Warms the body, alleviates pain, increases circulation
tsang-chu atractylodes General tonic to increase appetite and promote health
tsao-chiao gleditsia Loosens congestion, resolves phlegm, constipation
tsao-wu aconite Very toxic, antiarthritic, analgesic
tse-hsieh alisma Urinary tract, kidney stones, aphrodisiac
tse-she alisma Urinary tract, kidney stones, aphrodisiac
tu-fu-ling smilax Antispasmodic, diuretic
tun-chih lard Base for ointments
tung-chung-hsia-tsao cordycep Restorative and tonic
tung-jua-tzu benincasa Anti-inflammatory
tzu-su perilla Chi imbalances, quiets fetus, asthma, detoxifies
tzu-ts'ao lithospermum Antifebrile, cools blood, lubricates intestines
tzu-wan aster To quiet restless crying children, quiets nervous system
wei-ling-hsien Chinese clemati Flatulence, pain at the waist, knees, arms and legs
wei-ling-ts'ai potentilla Eliminates fever, cools the blood
wu-chu-yu evodia Uterine muscle stimulant, increase blood pressure
wu-mei dark plum Antifebrile, antispasmodic, persistent cough, worms
wu-pei-tzu Chinese sumac Pulmonary weakness, hemostatic
wu-yao lindera Anti-inflammatory, analgesic
ya-men-jen linseed Laxative, constipation
yen-hu-suo corydalis Relieves pain, stimulates energy and circulation
yin-ch'en-hao artemisia Antipyretic, diuretic
yin-yang-huo epimedium Aphrodisiac, warms the kidneys, strengthens yang
ying-pi cherry Relieves cough
yu-chu polygonatum Slows and deepens respiration, antiarthritic, fever
yuan-chih polygala Reduces swelling, sedative

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