The Four Natures of TCM

Four properties of Chinese medicinal herbs, cold, hot, warm and cool, are also called the four natures or four xing in TCM. Cold-cool and warm-hot are two completely different categories of natures, cold-cool belonging to yin, and warm-hot to yang, whereas cold and cool or hot and warm are only different, to some degrees, in their variance. Chinese medicinal herbs with cold-cool nature can clear away heat, purge fire and eliminate toxic materials, which are mainly used for heat-syndrome; Chinese medicinal herbs with warm-hot nature have the actions of expelling cold and restoring yang, which are mainly used for cold-syndrome.  

In addition, there are also some Chinese medicinal herbs known as neutral ones whose cold or hot nature is not so remarkable and whose action is relatively mild. But actually they still have differences in the tendency to cool or warm so that they are still in the range of four natures.

The four natures -- cold, hot, warm and cool are summarized mainly from the body''s response after Chinese medicinal herbs are taken, which are so defined in relation to the properties, cold or heat of the diseases treated. After Huanglian (Rhizoma Coptidis) and Shigao (Gypsum Fibrosum) are taken, the manifestations of heat-syndromes such as high fever, dysphoria, thirst and profuse perspiration can be eliminated, which indicates that Huang-lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) and Shigao (Gypsum Fibro-sum) are cold in nature. According to the same reason, after Fuzi (Radix Aconiti Lateralis Praeparata ) and Ganjiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis) are taken, the manifestations of cold-syndromes such as aversion to cold and cold limbs, cold and painful sensation in gastric region and diarrhea can be relieved, which indicates that Fuzi (Radix Aconiti Praeparata) and Ganjiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis) are hot in nature. 

Treating diseases with Chinese medicinal herbs is to make use of their cold or hot nature to correct the phenomena of overabundance of heat or cold in the body to restore them as much as possible to the normal state.

Therefore, on the base of syndrome differentiation, you must distinguish heat or cold nature of disease, and have a good understanding of the cold or hot property of Chinese medicinal herbs, and then selectively apply corresponding medicinal herbs so that you can achieve the desired results. Ganjiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis) and Huang-lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) can both be used to treat diarrhea but Ganjiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis) is hot in nature, therefore, used to treat diarrhea of cold type while Huang-lian (Rhizoma Coptidis) cold in nature is indicated for diarrhea of heat type.

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 in TCM Windows.

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