Chinese pharmacology’s unique features are: Firstly, the pharmacological theory is based on the diseases and medicines’ nature. Medicines’ elements were categorised in a way that is against the weakness of the disease. Secondly, the ways to process treatments and the preparation of medicines are unique. Thirdly, the feature of compound prescription; sometimes one kind of herb may be effective to cure many diseases. Lastly, the field of alchemy also made contribution to pharmacology in the modern era if not in ancient China.
First of all, when ancient Chinese were looking into pharmacology, their research based on three aspects: the disease itself, the natural properties of medicines and their therapeutic effects. Ancient Chinese categorised medicines according to these aspects. Firstly, their temperature (hot, warm, cool and cold. ) Secondly, their tastes (hot, bitter, salty, sour and sweet. ) And thirdly, their natures (ascending and descending. ) The prescription for Chinese physicians is like a game of rock, paper, scissors.
For example, when a patient is suffering from fever, then the physician would prescribe cool or cold medicines for him/her. On the other hand, if the patient is suffering from a disease because of a weak physical condition or a disease of a cold nature, then the physician would prescribe warm or hot medicines. When it comes to ascending and descending medicines, the medicines that could induce sweating after consumption are regarded as ascending as they help warming up the patients, such as herbs like lily magnolia and perilla; while seeds are very much likely to be descending. In other words, each medicine is prescribed to aim at the nature of the diseases.
Secondly, the process of preparing the medicine is also a very unique part of Chinese pharmacology. Generally there are three way in processing the treatments: fluid, heat and both fluid and heat. Fluid treatment includes soaking in wine or vinegar or wash with water. Heat treatment INCLUDES FRYING, BAKING AND SINGEING. AND FLUID AND HEAT TREATMENT INCLUDES STEAMING AND BOILING.
MOREOVER, ALTHOUGH FORBEARERS LIKE SHENG NONG HAD TRIED A LOT OF HERBS THAT HAVE VALUABLE MEDICAL EFFECTS, SOME OF THEM ARE ACTUALLY POISONOUS. IN ORDER TO UTILISED OR EVEN TO ENHANCE THEIR MEDICAL VALUES WITHOUT PUTTING THE PATIENTS’ LIFE AT RISK, SOME MEDICINES WERE PREPARED IN THE FOLLOWING WAY: FOR HERBS MONKSHOOD AND THE TUBER OF PINELLIA, THEY HAVE TO BE SOAKED IN WATER WITH GINGER AND VITRIOL SO THAT THEY COULD BE DETOXICATED WITHOUT DETERIORATING THEIR MEDICAL VALUES.
SOMETIMES THE HERB’S “TEMPERATURE” COULD BE CHANGED AS WELL. FOR EXAMPLE, GLUTINOUS REHMANNIA COULD BE CHANGED FROM COLD TO WARM AFTER STEAMING AND DRYING FOR MULTIPLE TIMES. THE THIRD UNIQUE FEATURE OF CHINESE PHARMACOLOGY IS ITS PRESCRIPTION. COMPOUND
PRESCRIPTION IS COMMON AND DIFFERENT PARTS OF A HERB COULD BE USED FOR DIFFERENT MEDICAL BENEFITS. IN A DOSE OF MEDICINE, DOZENS OF ITEMS COULD BE OBSERVED. THEY HAVE TO BE BALANCED WELL BY THE PHYSICIAN FOR COORDINATE ACTIONS SO THAT THE BENEFITS COULD BE MAXIMISED OR ELSE DIFFERENT RATIO OF ITEMS COULD LEAD TO VERY DIFFERENT OUTCOMES.
ZHANG ZHONGJING DEMONSTRATED A HERB COULD BE USED TO CURE DIFFERENT KINDS OF DISEASE WHEN COORDINATING IT WITH DIFFERENT ITEMS. FOR EXAMPLE, CASSIA TWIGS WITH EPHEDRA COULD HEAL COLD BY INDUCING SWEATING; EPHEDRA WITH ALMOND AND PLASTER COULD CURE ASTHMA AND COUGH WITH HIGH FEVER; EPHEDRA COULD HEAL SWELLING WITH GINGER AND LARGE-HEADED ATRACTYLODES.
IN CONCLUSION, THE UNIQUENESS OF CHINESE PHARMACOLOGY IS FORMED BY ITS UNIQUE THEORY IN CLASSIFYING DISEASE AND MEDICINES, THE WAY TO PROCESS TREATMENT AND WAYS TO PREPARE MEDICINE AND THE USE OF COMPOUND PRESCRIPTION TO COORDINATE DIFFERENT HERBS FOR GREATER BENEFITS AND EFFECTS. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, ALL OF THE FEATURES ARE ACCUMULATED BY THE EXPERIENCES RECORDED IN THE CHINESE MEDICAL CLASSICS WRITTEN BY THE FORBEARERS SINCE 2000 YEARS AGO, WHICH ARE STILL VALID AND WIDELY USED NOW.