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3. Aromatic herbs

An aromatic herb has similar functions to those of a pungent herb. It possesses moving and dispersing properties. Furthermore, an aromatic herb has a lighter but more remarkable smell, which brings about the function of penetrating the turbidity of Dampness, reviving the Spleen and transforming Dampness.

It is especially used in conditions where Dampness accumulates in the Middle Jiao and the Spleen fails to transform and transport Dampness, the Spleen-Qi is not able to ascend and the Stomach-Qi is not able to descend. This pathological change leads to symptoms such as poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a sticky sensation in the mouth. Huo Xiang (Agastachis herba), Pei Lan (Eupatorii herba), Cang Zhu (Atractylodis rhizoma) and Sha Ren (Amomi xanthioidis fructus) are the most commonly used aromatic herbs and are used to treat these disorders.

There are other aromatic herbs which can transform the turbidity of Dampness and harmonize the Qi and Blood in certain organs and areas besides the Spleen. For example, Yu Jin (Curcumae radix), Qing Hao (Artemisiae annuae herba) and Yin Chen Hao (Artemisiae scopariae herba) can transform the Dampness from the Liver and Gall Bladder and treat distension in the hypochondriac region, nausea and irritability; Shi Chang Pu (Acori graminei rhizoma), Su He Xiang (Styrax) and Bing Pian (Borneol) can transform Dampness, revive the Heart and open the orifices to treat Closed syndrome; Bo He (Menthae herba) and Ju Hua (Chrysanthemi flos) can clear Wind-Heat from the head to treat headache and a heavy and distending sensation of the head and eyes.

Moreover, since aromatic herbs are light and have a moving ability, they are often used to unblock Qi and Blood obstructions and relieve pain. For instance, Su He Xiang (Styrax), Tan Xiang (Santali albi lignum) and Sha Ren (Amomi xanthioidis fructus) can treat severe pain in the chest and are used for angina pectoris; Mu Xiang (Aucklandiae radix) and Sha Ren (Amomi xanthioidis fructus) can treat abdominal pain; Yu Jin (Curcumae radix), Chuan Xiong (Chuanxiong rhizoma) and Wu Yao (Linderae radix) can treat lower abdominal pain due to disorders in the Liver meridian; Qiang Huo (Notopterygii rhizoma), Chuan Xiong (Chuanxiong rhizoma) and Bai Zhi (Angelicae dahuricae radix) can relieve headache; Ru Xiang (Olibanum) and Mo Yao (Myrrhae) can treat pain due to Blood stagnation.

Since aromatic herbs can penetrate into the deeper regions of the body to regulate the Qi and Blood, they are also often used topically in herbal plasters, lotions or creams to treat muscular pain.

The commonly used aromatic herbs are Chuan Xiong (Chuanxiong rhizoma), Ru Xiang (Olibanum), Rou Gui (Cinnamomi cassiae cortex), Qiang Huo (Notopterygii rhizoma) and Bo He (Menthae herba). In addition, aromatic herbs are also oftenused topically to promote the healing process of wounds, especially the Yin-type ulcers, because the herbs can reach the deep regions of the wound, transform turbidity of Dampness and regulate the Qi and Blood. The commonly used herbs are Ding Xiang (Caryophylli flos), Ru Xiang (Olibanum), Chen Xiang (Aquilariae lignum), Bai Zhi (Angelicae dahuricae radix) and Bing Pian (Borneol).


An astringent herb or substance has the same characteristics as a sour substance, but no sour taste. It can stabilize the essential substances of the body and prevent the leakage of them in pathological conditions.

For instance, Long Gu (Mastodi fossilium ossis) can stabilize the Heart-Qi and calm the Liver-Yang to treat palpitations, restlessness and insomnia; Mu Li (Ostrea concha) can stabilize the Body Fluids and treat night sweating; Shi Liu Pi (Granati pericarpium) and Zao Xin Tu (Terra flava usta) can bind up the intestines and treat diarrhea; Sang Piao Xiao (Mantidis oötheca) and Shan Yao (Dioscoreae rhizoma) can stabilize the Essence, treat spermatorrhea and enuresis.



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