Can different herbal combinations work together in TCM?

Herbal medicines can complement and assist each other in certain combinations, a qualified practitioner will know which herbs to combine together and at what dosage to ensure they work best for your body.

1. Mutual reinforcement leads to a synergy effect when two drugs of a similar nature are used simultaneously. For example, when Rhizoma Anemarrhenae and gypsum are used together, the effect of heat clearing is enhanced.

2. Mutual assistance means the major ingredient of a prescription is enhanced by other subsidiary drugs, for example when Rhizoma Coptidis is used to treat dysentery, Radix Aucklandiae can assist to smooth bowel movements and arrest abdominal pain.

3. Mutual suppression helps to reduce the toxicity of a drug. For example, the toxicity of Fructus Crotonis can be reduced by mung beans.

4. Mutual restraint occurs when two drugs, when combined together inhibit the toxicity of each other, for example, ginseng and Faeces Trogopterorum.

5. Mutual aversion means when two drugs are used together, the healing effect of one drug is inhibited by another, such as the invigoration effect of ginseng can be inhibited by radish seeds.

6. Mutual incompatibility means that certain drugs in combination can lead to adverse effects; for example, liquorice root will increase the toxicity of Flos Genkwa .

7. Single application refers to a drug used alone in order to exert its own specific action, e.g. using ginseng to replenish primordial qi.

These contraindications are not absolute, but in actual practice most TCM practitioners base their prescriptions on these fundermental principles.

These and other Traditional Chinese practices all form part of TCM, each adding a little to the history and methodology of Acupuncture and Herbs.

Eca Brady is a fully licensed physician of Chinese Medicine BSc(Ac) MBAcC PGDip(CHM), practicing Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs from Harley Street, London. Make an appointment for an acupuncture or Herbs treatment and we can discuss how we can help you, to read more about Eca click here.

This article includes excerpts from the original article by Shennong.

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