Chinese Medical Glossary

The ancient system of Chinese herbology is mysterious and complex; individual herbs are understood as having more than single actions or targeted issues. Each has a scope of attributes that defines its way of interacting with other herbs and with the body's life-force, the Qi. Like timeless Far Eastern philosophy, the essence of Chinese herbal science is dynamic, balancing, symbiotic.

Qi

Point zero of any discussion regarding Chinese Medicine.  Qi has no exact translation; it is most usually translated as 'energy'... read more

Qi

Point zero of any discussion regarding Chinese Medicine.  Qi has no exact translation; it is most usually translated as 'energy' or 'life-force'.

 

SCIENCE

Qi is the instrinsic, motivating principle of all things; and of each thing, being, and component individually. Every individual thing can be defined, simply, by its Qi.  That of the body is 'righteous Qi', but we speak also of the special Qi of individual parts, such as Heart Qi or Skin Qi. 

HISTORY

Essentially, Qi is the ancient Eastern understanding of the same dynamic recognized by modern physics as molecular and atomic activity.  We think the closest translation is 'life'. 

Yin

A concept of Chinese Medicine derived from and inseparable from Eastern philosophy.   SCIENCE In herbalism and Skin Care, Yin... read more

Yin

A concept of Chinese Medicine derived from and inseparable from Eastern philosophy.

 

SCIENCE

In herbalism and Skin Care, Yin represents such qualities as moisture, cooling, softness, nurturing, night and calm. Yin-tonifying herbs are hydrating, cooling, nutritive and nurturing.

HISTORY

Yin is represented by the dark half of the well-known symbol and, together with Yang, conceptualizes the constant interplay of apparently opposing forces that create both the movement and the balance of the universe (our world) and each person and thing within it.

Yang

Represented by the light half of the familiar symbol, shown in its ebb and flow with Yin to signify the... read more

Yang

Represented by the light half of the familiar symbol, shown in its ebb and flow with Yin to signify the dynamic of forces that creates the harmony and cycles of nature.

 

SCIENCE

Yang-tonifying herbs are brightening, revitalizing and enlivening. When we use Yang herbals for skincare, we balance any drying effects with Yin herbs to get the benefits we want without the drawbacks.

HISTORY

Yang refers to such qualities as brightness, movement, and liveliness. Where Yin is the deep, supportive substance of skin, Yang is its luminous "life", showing through. Together they create the indefinable 'glow from within' that manifests ideal health and balance.

Moisten

To add moisture, hydrate what is too dry.   SCIENCE .Less Yin generally than nourishing substances because not as rich,... read more

Moisten

To add moisture, hydrate what is too dry.

 

SCIENCE

.Less Yin generally than nourishing substances because not as rich, and with a more specific function.

HISTORY

Moistening herbs have the tendency to increase to function of other substances whose action is impeded by excessive dryness.  They are an example of Yin (moisture) catalyzing Yang (movement, activity).   This is the flow and balance so prized in Chinese therapeutics.Less Yin generally than nourishing substances because not as rich, and with a more specific function.

Regenerate

To heal. Regenerating herbs excel at promoting healing and encouraging new healthy cell growth and turnover in the treatment of... read more

Regenerate

To heal. Regenerating herbs excel at promoting healing and encouraging new healthy cell growth and turnover in the treatment of damaged, aging, or scarred skin.

 

SCIENCE

In skin care, this effect can help with uneven color associated with past damage as well.  Many regenerating herbs also have an antiseptic component. 

HISTORY

Herbs in this category also tend to be extremely healing and centering on other levels, the most familiar being frankincense and myrrh with their ancient traditions of sacred spiritual use.

Nourish

To infuse with necessary or highly beneficial substances.   SCIENCE Nourishing substances tend to be Yin in nature, supporting the... read more

Nourish

To infuse with necessary or highly beneficial substances.

 

SCIENCE

Nourishing substances tend to be Yin in nature, supporting the skin by supporting the blood vessels and nutritional resources.

HISTORY

Very similar to 'supplement' but with more emphasis on providing what is strictly necessary, on a deeper level both energetically and substantially.

Clear

To remove heat. To 'clear' in Chinese therapeutics technically implies to clear heat.   SCIENCE Clearing is... read more

Clear

To remove heat. To 'clear' in Chinese therapeutics technically implies to clear heat.

 

SCIENCE

Clearing is differentiated from 'cooling' in that it actually means to take the heat away altogether, not just to balance out the effect of it with its opposite. It is used in cases of excess heat, rather than deficient Yin.  Many Chinese medicinals with heat-clearing properties have antibiotic effects.

HISTORY

This is the equivalent of drinking cold water to rebalance the temperature of  the system and thus the face (clearing), vs. splashing cold water directly on the skin for a more temporary fix. It removes excess heat at its source.  Clearing is a deeper action, and takes longer to accomplish.

 

Cool

To counteract heat in the system or skin; as usually indicated by redness, soreness, and feelings of warmth.   SCIENCE... read more

Cool

To counteract heat in the system or skin; as usually indicated by redness, soreness, and feelings of warmth.

 

SCIENCE

The action of cooling slows down chaotic movement of Qi and other substances such as blood.  It also removes soreness associated with excessive heat.  This gives it a generally calming effect as well; and removes redness in the skin. 

HISTORY

Cooling herbs are necessarily Yin in nature, as it is this quality which balances out the heat (an expression of Yang) by neutralizing it with its opposite. 

 

Astringe

To tighten; by contracting skin or tissue.   SCIENCE This effect is sought usually either to minimize the appearance of... read more

Astringe

To tighten; by contracting skin or tissue.

 

SCIENCE

This effect is sought usually either to minimize the appearance of pores or to minimize blood vessels and redness.

HISTORY

Astringing is generally a temporary temporary effect but can be protective and create a look of evenness and smoothness to the skin.

Harmonize

To smooth out; even out the action of, unify.   SCIENCE Harmonizing herbs for the skin excel at correcting such... read more

Harmonize

To smooth out; even out the action of, unify.

 

SCIENCE

Harmonizing herbs for the skin excel at correcting such things as uneven redness ( a disharmony of heat and coolness) and combination skin ( a disharmony of yin and yang, ie oil and dryness).

HISTORY

Harmonizing herbs typically have a gentle nature and a sweet flavor.  They are used to unify a formula, helping components work together.   They also often have the action of 'moderating tension', which means to release what is stuck, to improve flow.

Transform

To change, especially to correct the metabolism of water, ie edema.   SCIENCE Puffiness is water in the body that... read more

Transform

To change, especially to correct the metabolism of water, ie edema.

 

SCIENCE

Puffiness is water in the body that is remaining where it should not (under the skin, in the tissue). To transform it means to encourage it back into the circulation so it is used where it is needed, not pooled where it is creating imbalance.

HISTORY

Because movement is needed to effect transforming action, many herbals that have this action are quite Yang in nature.

Regulate

To energize harmoniously.   SCIENCE Life shows in the skin as vitality, vibrance, youthfullness, and radiance. Regulating the Qi maintains... read more

Regulate

To energize harmoniously.

 

SCIENCE

Life shows in the skin as vitality, vibrance, youthfullness, and radiance. Regulating the Qi maintains these things in the complexion as well as in the body.

HISTORY

The Chinese therapeutic principle is literally 'to move' - with the understanding that movement is intrinsic to, and specifically expresses, Life.

Supplement

To increase the quantity of. Supplementing herbs provide or replace Qi, moisture, nutrients and/or energetic properties the skin may need... read more

Supplement

To increase the quantity of. Supplementing herbs provide or replace Qi, moisture, nutrients and/or energetic properties the skin may need more of.

 

SCIENCE

Supplementing substances tend to be very nourishing and substantial, particularly beneficial for dull, dry, or mature skin.

HISTORY

They infuse additional benefits, actually adding something to the system, as differentiated from 'tonifying', which strengthens and maximizes what is already there (see 'tonify').

Tonify

To increase the power and/or strength of.   SCIENCE Tonifying herbal formulas are prized for their ability to deeply and... read more

Tonify

To increase the power and/or strength of.

 

SCIENCE

Tonifying herbal formulas are prized for their ability to deeply and lastingly fortify the body's and skin's resources.

HISTORY

They are considered the most precious therapeutically.  Many secret elixirs and youth-maintaining formulas of ancient texts owed their powers to the principle of tonification.   It means to maximize both in terms of quantity and quality - especially the Qi, the essential life-force. 

Purify

To clean.    SCIENCE Purifying herbs generally have antiseptic properties or known anti-microbial actions and keep toxic organic material from... read more

Purify

To clean. 

 

SCIENCE

Purifying herbs generally have antiseptic properties or known anti-microbial actions and keep toxic organic material from harming the skin and body.

HISTORY

Some herbs in this category also have long use in spiritual rituals.  They are often bitter in flavor, and aromatic. 

Calm

To stop itching, irritation, redness or pain.It refers to the mind, emotional and spiritual levels as well. Most calming herbs... read more

Calm

To stop itching, irritation, redness or pain.It refers to the mind, emotional and spiritual levels as well. Most calming herbs are very Yin in nature.

 

SCIENCE

This effect is also associated with 'harmonizing', the evening out of the complexion. The Chinese call this action, more properly, 'quieting'.

HISTORY

The action 'to calm' refers to the mind, emotional and spiritual levels as well. Most calming herbs are very Yin in nature.

 


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