List of traditional Chinese medicines
In traditional Chinese medicine, there are roughly 13,000 medicinals used in China and over 100,000 medicinal prescriptions recorded in the ancient literature. Plant elements and extracts are the most common elements used in medicines. In the classic Handbook of Traditional Drugs from 1941, 517 drugs were listed - 442 were plant parts, 45 were animal parts, and 30 were minerals.
Herbal medicine, as used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), came to widespread attention in the United States in the 1970s. At least 40 states in the United States license practitioners of Oriental medicine, and there are about 50 colleges of Oriental medicine in the United States today.
In Japan, the use of TCM herbs and herbal formulas is traditionally known as Kampo, literally "Han Chinese Medical Formulas". Many Kampo combinations are manufactured in Japan on a large scale by reputable manufacturers.
In Korea, more than 5000 herbs and 7000 herbal formulas are used in Traditional Korean Medicine for the prevention and treatment of ailments. These are herbs and formulas that are traditionally Korean or derived from, or are used in TCM.
In Vietnam, traditional medicine comprises Thuoc Bac (Northern Medicine) and Thuoc Nam (Southern Medicine). Only those who can understand Chinese characters could diagnose and prescribe remedies in Northern Medicine. The theory of Northern Medicine is based on the Yin-Yang interactions and the eight trigrams, as used in Chinese Medicine. Herbs such as Gleditsia sinensis are used in both Traditional Vietnamese Medicine and TCM.
Ginseng is the most broadly used substance for the most broad set of alleged cures. Powdered antlers, horns, teeth, and bones are second in importance to ginseng, with claims ranging from curing cancer to curing impotence.
- 1 Mammals
- 2 Reptiles and amphibians
- 3 Marine life
- 4 Insects
- 5 Fungi
- 6 Plants
- 6.1 Aconite
- 6.2 Birthwort
- 6.3 Camellia
- 6.4 Cayenne pepper
- 6.5 Chinese cucumber
- 6.6 Chrysanthemum flowers
- 6.7 Cocklebur fruit
- 6.8 Crow dipper
- 6.9 Croton seed
- 6.10 Dioscorea Root
- 6.11 Ginger
- 6.12 Ginkgo
- 6.13 Ginseng
- 6.14 Goji berry
- 6.15 Horny goat weed
- 6.16 Lily Bulb
- 6.17 Rhubarb
- 6.18 Round Cardamon Fruit
- 6.19 Thunder God Vine
- 6.20 Trichosanthis Root
- 6.21 Strychnine tree seeds
- 6.22 Sweet wormwood
- 6.23 Willow bark
- 7 Minerals
- 8 See also
- 9 References
Human parts and excreta
Human body parts and excreta are currently used in TCM medicines and are included in its new textbooks and handbooks, such as licorice in human feces, dried human placenta, finger nails, child's urine, hair, and urinary sediments (Hominis Urinae Sedimentum, Ren Zhong Bai). The current consumption of human parts is considered cannibalism by some. Other parts include pubic hair, flesh, blood, bone, semen, and menstrual blood. The Bencao Gangmu describes the use of 35 human waste products and body parts as medicines, such as bones, fingernail, hairs, dandruff, earwax, impurities on the teeth, feces, urine, sweat, and organs. - Also listed are human breath and the "soul of criminals that were hanged", which is considered under TCM to be a material object resembling charcoal that is dug out of the ground beneath the body shortly after a hanged criminal died, but very few human or allegedy human products remain in use today.
Dried human placenta
Human feces and urine
The contemporary use of licorice in prepared human feces is known as Ren Zhong Huang Human urine sediment is called Ren Zhong Bai. Both Ren Zhong Huang and Ren Zhong Bai are used to treat inflammatory conditions and fungal infections of the skin and mouth.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, human feces is used in a decoction of licorice. These feces-licorice decoctions have been found to have a profound differences in pharmacokinetics as compared to pure glycyrrhizin. Initial studies investigating traditional Chinese Medicine indicate that taking the fecal bacteria alongside the licorice may improve the pharmacokinetics of glycyrrhizin, and certain strains of gut bacteria may produce an anti-tumor effect and an immune boosting effect. Human gut flora may protect against cell damage caused by hydrogen peroxide.
The human penis is not a drug
Human penis is believed under TCM to stop bleeding, and as with other TCM medicines, the basis for belief in its therapeutic effects is anecdotal and not based on the scientific method; Li Shizhen, author of the greatest pharmacological work in pre-modern China, the Bencao Gangmu, objected to use of human penis, but cited the anecdotal evidence and included it in the Bencao Gangmu, which is still a standard reference today.
Human pubic hair
Donkey-hide gelatin (Ejiao)
Deer penis is commonly sold in Chinese pharmacies. and served in specialized restaurants such as the Guo Li Zhuang restaurant in Beijing. The deer penis is typically very large and, under TCM it must be extracted from the deer whilst still alive. Often it is then sliced into small pieces, typically by women and then roasted and dried in the sun and then preserved while the deer looks on. China banned deer penis wine during the 2008 Summer Olympics, as it is believed that the wine is an effective treatment for athletic injuries.
Flying squirrel feces
The text Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology notes that flying squirrel feces has a "distinct odor" that "may decrease patient compliance" with ingesting it.
It is believed to have uses for amenorrhea, menses pain, postpartum abdominal pain, epigastric pain, and chest pain. It is boiled in a decoction with other herbs prior to ingestion. If it is to be used in a formula to stop bleeding (dark purple uterine bleeding with clots, retained lochia due to stasis), it is dry fried prior to making the decoction. Use of flying squirrel feces as medicine has been associated with Rickettsia infections.
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The horn of a rhinoceros is used an antipyretic - because it is believed to "cool the blood" - however several scientific studies failed to find any active antipyretic molecule in rhinoceros horn. The illegal trade in rhinoceros horns has decimated the world's rhino population by more than 90 percent over the past 40 years.
The penis and testicles of male tigers is used by some to treat erectile dysfunction and to improve sexual preformance, despite tiger penis being a placebo. Critically endangered species such as the Sumatran Tiger are often being hunted to keep up with the illegal demand for tiger parts.
Reptiles and amphibians
Snake oil is the most widely known Chinese medicine in the west, due to extensive marketing in the west in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and wild claims of its efficacy to treat many maladies. Snake oil is a traditional Chinese medicine used to treat joint pain by rubbing it on joints as a liniment.
This is theoretically possible because oils from snakes are higher in eicosapentaenoic acid than most other oils. But there are no scientific studies showing that rubbing it on joints has any positive effect, or that snake oil is safe for daily consumption.
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Toad (Bufo spp.) secretions are an ingredient used in Traditional Chinese teas. However, teas prepared in this way may contain deadly amounts of cardiac glycosides, such as bufotalin and oleandrin and should be avoided
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Seahorse (Hai Ma) is a fundamental ingredient in therapies for a variety of disorders, including asthma, arteriosclerosis, incontinence, impotence, insomnia, thyroid disorders, skin ailments, broken bones, heart disease, throat infections, abdominal pain, sores, skin infections; it is also used as an aphrodisiac and to facilitate childbirth. As many as 20 million seahorses per year may be used for TCM purposes. In one study, 58 seahorse samples were collected from various TCM vendors in Taiwan, and of all the eight species identified from the fifty-eight samples, seven were vulnerable, and one was endangered.
Shark fin soup
Shark fin soup is traditionally regarded as beneficial for health in East Asia, and its status as an elite dish has led to huge demand with the increase of affluence in China, devastating shark populations.
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Dried scorpions (Chinese: 全蠍, Pinyin:quan xie) may be ground into a powder and mixed with water. In TCM, powdered scorpion is toxic and is therefore used to treat poisoning. A scorpion venom peptide was found to help with arthritis in vitro.
Various fungi are used in TCM. Some may have scientifically proven medicinal value, while others may be extremely toxic.
Supernatural mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)
The supernatural mushroom (lingzhi mushroom, Chinese "linh chi" = "supernatural mushroom", "reishi mushroom" in Japan) encompasses several fungal species of the genus Ganoderma, and most commonly refers to the closely related species, Ganoderma lucidum and Ganoderma tsugae. G. lucidum enjoys special veneration in East Asia, where it has been used as a medicinal mushroom in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest mushrooms known to have been used medicinally. Today, the ling zhi mushroom is used in a herbal formula designed to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy.
Tremella fuciformis is used as a beauty product by women in China and Japan as it reportedly increases moisture retention in the skin and prevents senile degradation of micro-blood vessels in the skin, reducing wrinkles and smoothing fine lines. Other beneficial effects come from it's ability to increase the activity of SOD in the brain and liver.
Aconite root contains what is called "the Queen of Poisons", the highly toxic alkaloid aconitine. There is no antidote. It is quickly absorbed via mucous membranes, but also via skin. Respiratory paralysis, in very high doses also cardiac arrest, leads to death. A few minutes after ingestion paresthesia starts, which includes tingling in the oral region. This extends to the whole body, starting from the extremities. Anesthesia, sweating and cooling of the body, nausea and vomiting and other similar symptoms follow. Sometimes there is strong pain, accompanied by cramps, or diarrhea.
When a person has a negative reaction to the highly toxic aconite root, some proponents of classical Chinese medicine think that this is because it was either processed incorrectly or planted on the wrong place or on the wrong day of the year, i.e., for supernatural or astrological reasons, not because of the toxins.
Birthworts are plants in the genus Aristolochia used many for conditions, including hypertension, haemorrhoids, and colic. It was recently discovered that birthworts contain the toxic substance aristolochic acid and can cause cancer and kidney failure. Birthworts are thought to be a significant cause of upper urinary tract cancer and kidney failure in Taiwan because of their prevalence in herbal medicine; in 2012, approximately a third of all herbal prescriptions in Taiwan contained aristolochic acid. Birthwort has also been linked to Balkan endemic nephropathy.
Trichosanthes kirilowii is believed to treat tumors, reduce fevers, swelling and coughing, abscesses, amenorrhea, jaundice, and polyuria. The plant is deadly if improperly prepared; causing pulmonary edema, cerebral hemorrhage, seizures, and high fever.
Chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua ) are used in TCM to treat headaches, fever, dizziness and dry eyes. It is also used in certain beverages. Chrysanthemum flowers are believed to "brighten the eyes, pacify the liver, break blood, clear heat, stop dysentery, disperse wind, relieve toxicity, and regulate the center".
Care should be taken as crow dipper is toxic.
Croton seed (Croton tiglium) is used in TCM to treat gastrointestinal disorders, convulsions, and skin lesions. It is often used with rhubarb, dried ginger and apricot seed. Care should be taken as croton seed is carcinogenic.
In TCM, Dioscorea Root (Radix Dioscorea, Huai Shan Yao or Shan Yao in Chinese), benefits both the Yin and Yang, and is used to tonify the lungs, spleen and kidney. It can "be used in large amounts and 30g is suggested when treating diabetes". If taken habitually, it "brightens the intellect and prolongs life".
Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) has been used in China for over 2,000 years to treat indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. TCM also teaches that it helps treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that it treats the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and menstrual cramps. Today, health care professionals commonly recommend ginger to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness, pregnancy, and cancer chemotherapy. It is also used as a digestive aid for mild stomach upset, as support in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, and may even be used in heart disease or cancer.
Ginkgo biloba seeds are crushed and believed under TCM to treat asthma. Ginkgo has been used in TCM for nearly 5,000 years. Further scientific studies are needed to establish the efficacy of Ginkgo biloba as a medicine.
Ginseng root is the most widely sold traditional Chinese medicine. The name "ginseng" is used to refer to both American (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian or Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), which belong to the species Panax and have a similar chemical makeup. Siberian ginseng or Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is another type of plant. Asian ginseng has a light tan, gnarled root that often looks like a human body with stringy shoots for arms and legs. In ancient times, herbalists thought that because of the way ginseng looks it could treat many different kinds of syndromes, from fatigue and stress to asthma and cancer. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng was often combined with other herbs and used often to bring longevity, strength, and mental alacrity to its users. Asian ginseng is believed to enhance the immune system in preventing and treating infection and disease. Several clinical studies report that Asian ginseng can improve immune function. Studies have found that ginseng seems to increase the number of immune cells in the blood, and improve the immune system's response to a flu vaccine. In one study, 227 participants received either ginseng or placebo for 12 weeks, with a flu shot administered after 4 weeks. The number of colds and flu were two-thirds lower in the group that took ginseng.
Ginseng contains stimulants, but may produce side effect including high blood pressure, low blood pressure, and mastalgia. Ginseng may also lead to induction of mania in depressed patients who mix it with antidepressants. One of the most common and characteristic symptoms of acute overdose of ginseng from the genus Panax is bleeding. Symptoms of mild overdose with Panax ginseng may include dry mouth and lips, excitation, fidgeting, irritability, tremor, palpitations, blurred vision, headache, insomnia, increased body temperature, increased blood pressure, edema, decreased appetite, increased sexual desire, dizziness, itching, eczema, early morning diarrhea, bleeding, and fatigue. Symptoms of gross overdose with Panax ginseng may include nausea, vomiting, irritability, restlessness, urinary and bowel incontinence, fever, increased blood pressure, increased respiration, decreased sensitivity and reaction to light, decreased heart rate, cyanotic facial complexion, red face, seizures, convulsions, and delirium.
The constituents of ginseng include triterpene saponins, aglycone protopanaxadiol, aglycone protopanaxytriol, aglycone oleanolic acid and water-soluble polysaccharides.
Marketing literature for goji berry (wolfberry) products including several "goji juices" suggest that wolfberry polysaccharides have extensive biological effects and health benefits, although none of these claims have been supported by peer-reviewed research.
A May 2008 clinical study published by the peer-reviewed Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine indicated that parametric data, including body weight, did not show significant differences between subjects receiving Lycium barbarum berry juice and subjects receiving the placebo; the study concluded that subjective measures of health were improved and suggested further research in humans was necessary. This study, however, was subject to a variety of criticisms concerning its experimental design and interpretations.
Published studies have also reported possible medicinal benefits of Lycium barbarum, especially due to its antioxidant properties, including potential benefits against cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, vision-related diseases (such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma), having neuroprotective properties or as an anticancer and immunomodulatory agent.
Wolfberry leaves may be used to make tea, together with Lycium root bark (called dìgǔpí; 地 骨 皮 in Chinese), for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). A glucopyranoside isolated from wolfberry root bark have inhibitory activity in vitro against human pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
Horny goat weed
Lily bulbs (Bai He) are used in TCM to treat dry cough, dry and sore throat, and wheezing.
Round Cardamon Fruit
Round Cardamon Fruit (Bai Dou Kou) is used in TCM to treat poor appetite, breathing problems, vomiting and diarreahea 
Thunder God Vine
Thunder God Vine is used in TCM to treat arthritis, relieve pain and reduce joint swelling. It can be extremely toxic, if not processed properly If used inappropriately, within two to three hours after ingestion, a patient may begin to have diarrhea, headache, dizziness, severe vomiting (sometimes with blood), chills, high fever, and irregular heart beat. Long term inproper use may result in nervous system damage.
In TCM, Trichosanthis Root (Radix Trichosanthis or Tian Hua Fen in Chinese), is used to clear heat, generate fluids when heat injures fluids causing thirst, in the wasting and thirsting syndrome. The pairing of Tian Hua Fen and Zhi Mu had a faster, stronger and longer effect in reducing blood sugar levels than either herb alone.
Strychnine tree seeds
Strychnos nux-vomica seeds are sometimes used to treat diseases of the respiratory tract, anemia, and geriatric complaints. The active molecule is strychnine, a compound often used as a pesticide. Strychnine can be used as a medication - however it has an extremely low therapeutic index and better, less toxic replacements are available.
See also Artemisia annua
See also Artemisinin
Sweet wormwood had fallen out of common use under TCM until it was rediscovered in the 1970s when the Chinese Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency Treatments (340 AD) was found. This pharmacopeia contained recipes for a tea from dried leaves, prescribed for fevers (not specifically malaria). The plant extracts in TCM have the antimalarial artemisinin.
However, it has been questioned as to whether the TCM tea made from Sweet wormwood is effective, since artemesinin is not soluble in water and the concentrations in TCM medicines are considered insufficient to treatment malaria.
See also Aspirin
Salix genus plants were used since the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. Willow bark has been used throughout the centuries in China and Europe to the present for the treatment of pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions such as bursitis and tendinitis. The bark of white willow contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). It is thought to be responsible for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the herb. In 1829, salicin was used to develop aspirin. White willow appears to be slower than aspirin to bring pain relief, but its effects may last longer.
Arsenic compounds, while possibly essential for life in tiny amounts, Are extremely toxic. They are most commonly given as a pill or capsule, although are sometimes incorporated into a mixture with other substances.
Galena is used in TCM to treat ringworm, skin disorders and ulcers, and is thought to "detoxify" the body. It is crushed and taken orally or used on the skin. Lead tetroxide (Qian Dan) is used to treat anxiety, itching, and malaria. It is important to note that most lead compounds are extremely toxic.
Despite its toxicity, mercury sulfide (cinnabar) has historically been used in Chinese medicine, where it is called zhūshā (朱砂), and was highly valued in Chinese Alchemy. It was also referred to as dān (丹), meaning all of Chinese alchemy, cinnabar, and the "elixir of immortality". Cinnabar has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine as a sedative for more than 2000 years, and has been shown to have sedative and toxic effects in mice. In addition to being used for insomnia, cinnabar is thought to be effective for cold sores, sore throat, and some skin infections.
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