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Herbs for Inflammation

Posted on January 28, 2019 by AUTHOR (edit in theme settings) | 0 comments
photo: joelschreck.com

TCM Herbs for Inflammation

First, it should be understood that the modern concept of inflammation closely parallels the TCM concept of “heat”. However the concept of heat in TCM is far more developed and better understood than the idea of inflammation is in modern Western thought.

In Western thought, inflammation is considered a reaction of body tissue to harmful stimuli like bacteria, virus, allergies, and other pathogens, or irritants.  Inflammation is thought by many to be a protective response designed to neutralize the effect of these provocative stimuli.

Traditional Chinese medicine has dealt with inflammatory symptoms for millennia and has reached an understanding of this phenomenon that fits neatly into the framework of Chinese medical theory.  Chinese herbalists understand inflammation in a different way.  We call it heat.  Heat is a form of energy. We see that heat, like all energy, is provocative. It makes things go; it makes things warm.

We know that heat is involved, when the flesh looks red, or feels warm, or when mental or physical agitation are obvious, or when the pulse rapid, or when hyper-stimulation creates a panoply of symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, headaches, fevers, hot flashes, ad infinitum.

TCM advises that there can be many causes of heat.  The pathogens and irritants noted by medical scientists are, according to traditional Chinese medicine, usually hot in nature and therefore provocative of heat in the body.  This is known as Exterior Heat.  Febrile (fever) diseases like flu, measles, malaria, and other pestilential invaders create exterior heat.  If these pathogens are able to penetrate the body’s exterior defense, they will create Interior Heat.  

Both Exterior Heat and its resulting Interior Heat are considered Excess Heat.  They represent an oversupply of radiant qi to the body.  That’s why an ‘inflamed’ area feels warm. Since qi and blood always go together, the oversupply of energy will bring more blood to the area.  That’s why it looks red.

Another source of Excess Heat is stagnation. In TCM we also know that stagnation creates friction and that friction creates heat.  If you believe that Chinese medicine is unscientific, don’t take the word of the ancients, ask a physicist.

Some Common TCM herbs used to “Clear Heat” are:

BO HE – Mint – Clears Wind-Heat

JIN YIN HUA – Honeysuckle – Clears Heat Cleans Toxins

HUANG QIN – Scutellaria – Clears Heat & Dries Dampness


Some Common TCM formulas used to address ‘heat’

YIN CHIAO CHIEH TU PIAN (Honeysuckle & Forsythia Clean Toxin Pill)- Wind Heat

BAI HU TANG (White Tiger Decoction) – Clears heat from the Qi Level

HUANG LIAN JIE DU TANG (Coptis Decoction to Relieve Toxicity)


Information on this site is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your own physician or another medical professional. We make no claim as to efficacy or safety of herbs or herbal medicine appearing on this site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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