Herbs that resolve the exterior

These herbs treat superficial conditions, such as the common cold or flu, often by making the patient sweat.  This category is further divided into cooling herbs that resolve the exterior (which are used in heat patterns), and warming herbs that resolve the exterior (which are used in cold patterns).

Herbs that clear heat

These herbs reduce true heat, and false heat.  They treat fevers, infections, the heat of yin vacuity, and other heat conditions.  Many of these herbs have antibacterial or antiviral activity.  Some have cytotoxic and antitumor activity and have been used traditionally as anticancer agents.  Herbs that clear heat can be divided into herbs that quell fire, which treat extreme true heat, herbs that cool blood, which treat heat in the blood, herbs that clear damp heat, which treat mixtures of heat and dampness (such as that found in bacterial infections), and herbs that clear heat toxins, which treat toxin patterns (including viral infections).  Traditional anticancer agents commonly come from this last category.

Herbs that drain precipitation

These herbs induce bowel movements.  They treat constipation and some forms of heat.

Herbs that percolate damp

These herbs are used to remove excess dampness from the body.  Many of these herbs have diuretic actions.  They treat edema and other forms of dampness.

Herbs that dispel wind dampness

These herbs treat arthritic-like conditions.  Many have anti-inflammatory actions

Herbs that transform phlegm and stop coughing

These herbs clear phlegm from the lungs and other areas.  Many of these herbs have antitussive actions.

Aromatic herbs that transform dampness

These are aromatic herbs that treat dampness.  They can also treat digestive disturbances due to dampness.  Many of these herbs are rich in volatile oils. 

Herbs that relieve food accumulation

These herbs improve digestion.  Many contain digestive enzymes such as amylase.

Herbs that rectify the qi

These herbs treat qi stagnation, and also correct the flow of qi if it is flowing the wrong direction (such as the upward rising qi associated with hiccups).  These herbs tend to be rich in volatile oils.

Herbs that regulate the blood

These herbs treat blood stagnation.  Many of these herbs have anticoagulant actions.  A subset of this category treats bleeding problems.

Herbs that warm the interior and expel cold

These herbs warm a patient who is suffering from a cold pattern.

Herbs that supplement

These herbs strengthen the yin, yang, qi, or blood.  Many have a beneficial effect on the immune and hematologic systems and have been used to treat the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Herbs that astringe

These herbs stop excessive sweating or diarrhea.  Many are rich in tannins.

Herbs that quiet the spirit

These herbs calm nervousness and anxiety and treat insomnia.  Many have sedative or tranquilizing actions.

Aromatic herbs that open the portals

These herbs revive a patient from delirium.  Some have an action similar to smelling salts.

Herbs that extinguish wind and stop tremors

These herbs treat wind conditions, such as epilepsy.  Many of these herbs have antihypertensive or antispasmodic actions.

Herbs that expel parasites

These herbs rid the body of parasites.

Herbs for topical application

These herbs tend to be poisonous and treat a wide range of skin infections and other skin diseases.  Some of these herbs are used in cancer treatment.

Boik, John.  Cancer and Natural Medicine: A Textbook of Basic Science and Clinical

Research.  Princeton, MN: Oregon Medical Press, 1996.