Warm Acrid Herbs Dispel External Pathogens

Warm Acrid Herbs Dispel External Pathogens

Certain herbs work to release conditions regarded as existing at the superficial levels of the body and caused by wind heat, wind cold, wind damp or summer heat. These can invade the body, lodging in superficial exterior aspects and creating symptoms such as chills, fever, headache, stiff neck, general muscle ache along with either sweating or the absence of sweating. 

Herbs that work to release these exterior conditions are diaphoretics, releasing or expelling the external pathogenic influence through sweating. When more internalized and sweating has not brought consideral benefit, the pathogen is considered to have settled in the muscles. Clinical presentation of this phase would include fevers, diffuse body aches and profuse sweating. Of the herbs that release the muscles, the most prominent is ramulus cinnamomi cassiae, gui zhi or good old fashioned cinnamon.  

Warm, acrid herbs that release exterior conditions include:

Herba Ephedrae (Ma Huang or Stem of the Yellow Hemp) enters the lung, bladder to release exterior and disperse cold with chills, fever, headache, lack of sweating, tight floating pulse. This herb opens pores and releases exterior to facilitate circulation of lung qi with wheezing, useful for cough and wheezing from obstructed lung qi by wind and cold. Ma Huang encourages lung qi to flow causing descension, important for either external or internal excessive wheezing. Ma Huang promotes urination and reduces edema, especially beneficial for edema accompanying an exterior pathogenic influence. 

Ramulus Cinnamomi (Gui Zhi or Saigon Cinnamon Twigs) enters lung, bladder, adjusting the nutritive and protective qi levels and useful for deficient cold exterior patterns where sweating occurs without any improvement in condition; warms the channels to disperse cold, particularly painful obstruction in joints and limbs, e.g. shoulders. Gui Zhi is also useful for gynecological problems caused by cold obstructing blood. Gui Zhi Moves Yang and transforms qi, useful for edema from accumulated cold phlegm or poorly circulating yang qi. Gui Zhi strengthens heart yang and is useful for deficiency patterns with palpitations. 

Folium Perillae Frutescentis (Zi Su Ye or Perilla Leaf) releases the exterior to disperse cold, particularly for externally contracted Wind Cold with fever, chills, headache, nasal congestion, cough. Perilla leaf circulates qi and harmonizes the middle burner in exterior conditions accompanied by stomach or spleen disharmony with digestive disturbance, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, distension in chest or abdomen. Perilla has an antimicrobial effect against staphylococcus aureaus and is effective in alleviating seafood poisoning either ingested alone or with other herbs.

Herba Seu Flos Schizonepetae Tenuifoliae (Jing Jie or Stem or Bud of Schizonepeta) releases the exterior and expels wind, useful for wind heat pathogenic influences such as carbuncles or boils accompanied by chills and fever. Schizonepeta encourages rashes to surface and alleviates itching (great for abating itching at initial stages of measles). Schizonopeta has hemostatic effect, stops bleeding and may be used as auxiliary herb for hemorrhage such as found in bloody stool and uterine bleeding. 

Radix Ledebouriellae Sesloidis (Fang Feng or Root of Siler) has temperature regulating, antimicrobial, analgesic, anti poison effect. Fang feng releases the exterior and expels wind, useful for headache, chills and body aches from externally contracted wind cold as well as migraine headches. Fang feng expels wind damp to alleviate pain, trembling of hands and feet and lockjaw. May be used for intestinal wind caused by imbalance between spleen and liver manifested as recurrent painful diarrhea with bright blood in stool. 

Rhizoma or Radix Notopterygii (Qiang Huo or Root of Qiang/Chiang Huo) is acrid, bitter, aromatic and warm to release exterior and disperse cold, useful for exterior cold patterns with chills, fever, headache and body aches and pains. Used most commonly when damp accomanies the condition and causes joint pain, heavy feeling, sleepiness or pain in the occipital region. Notopterygii permeates painful obstruction to alleviate pain especially in upper limbs and back. 

Rhizoma et Radix Ligustici Sinensis (Gao Ben or Chinese Lovage Root) is acrid and warm with an antiviral effect to expel wind and alleviate pain for externally contracted wind cold manifested as headache or pain at vertex or pain that travels downward from cheeks and teeth. Gao Ben is useful for lower back pain from wind cold invasion as it treats both end of the governing channel. 

Radix Angelicae (Bai Zhi or Root of Angelica) enters the lung and stomach channels to expel wind and alleviate pain, useful for supraorbital pain, nasal congestion and toothache. Angelica reduces swelling and is beneficial in early stages of surface sores and carbuncles to expel wind and pus. If the sore, ulcer or carbuncle has already formed pus but has yet to drain, this herb can assist in discharging pus. It expels dampness and alleviates discharge and is used for leukorrhea from Damp Cold in the Lower Burner. Angelica opens up nasal passages and is used to treat sinus congestion. Angelica's antiomicrobial effect inhibits the growth of various species of Shigella and Salmonella. Burn ointments which include Angelica are effective in promoting healing and avoiding deleterious sequelae from corneal ulcers secondary to flash burns.

Herba Asari cum Radice (Xi Xin or Chinese Wild Ginger) releases the exterior and disperses cold. It is used for any Exterior Cold pattern, especially with an underlying Deficient Yang pattern. Manifestations of this condition include chills, fever, lack of sweat and a deep, weak pulse. Wild Ginger expels wind and alleviates pain and is used against externally contracted Wind Cold patterns when the dominant symptoms are head and body aches. It warms the lungs and transforms phlegm, treating Wind Cold patterns with congested fluids manifested by cough and copious watery soutum. It opens up areas of stagnation and is used for pain due to stagnant Qi in various parts of the body, most notably the chest. Wild Ginger has an antipyretic effect on the body, as seen when the herb's essential oils are mixed with gum arabic. When taken orally, this mixture reduces the body's temperature even if it had started at a normal temperature. When injected locally, there is an analgesic effect to electrical stimulation of tooth pulp equal to that of antipyrine. Antibiotically, Wild Ginger inhibits, in vitro, hemolytic Streptococcus, Shigella and Salmonella typhi. A paste made of ground-based Wild Ginger mixed with water and glycerin can hasten the relief of pain and healing of the lesions of aphthous mouth ulcers.

Rhizoma Zingiberis (Sheng Jiang or Fresh Ginger Rhizome) releases the exterior and disperses cold, used for exterior cold patterns. It warms the Middle Burner and alleviates vomiting, used to treat cold in the stomach especially when there is vomiting. Ginger Rhizome expels cold and alleviates coughing, as it is used to treat cough from both acute Wind Cold cough patterns and chronic lung disorders involving phlegm. It reduces the poisonous effect of other herbs, used to detoxify or treat overdoses of other herbs. It adjusts the Nutritive and Protective Qi, given to Exterior Deficient patients who sweat without an improvement in their condition. Doses of 0.1 to 1.0 gram of Ginger Rhizome induce an increase in the secretion of gastric juice and free hydrochloride. However, pepsin activity was decreased while lipase activity was increased. 30mL preparations of a 10-50% solution of this herb can stop vomiting caused by copper sulfate in dogs. Mixtures of Ginger Rhizome and brown sugar have a 70% cure rate in 7 days when administered to patients with acute bacillary dysentery. Abdominal pain and tenesmus disappeared in average 5 days and stool cultures were negative in average 4 days. No side effects have been observed. Chewing Ginger Rhizome results in an average elevation of systolic blood pressure of 11.2mmHg and diastolic blood by 14mmHg. No significant pulse change has been observed. Certain preparations of this herb have been noted to have a stimulatory effect on the respiratory center and heart of cats. 

Herba Allii Fistulosi (Cong Bai or Scallion or Entire Plant of Scallion or Spring Onion) releases the exterior and causes sweating, used for externally contracted wind cold patterns especially in early stages. Scallion Plant disperses cold and penetrates the Yang, used to alleviate abdominal pain and distension or nasal congestion due to blockage of Yang Qi by cold. The essential oils of Scallions have an inhibitory effect on Corynebacterium diphtheriae and some species of Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Shigella.

Herba Elsholtziae Splendentis (Xiang Ru or Aromatic Madder) releases the exterior, expels summer heat and transforms dampness, used for externally contracted heat or damp patterns with symptoms such as chills and fever, headache, lack of perspiration, body aches or diarrhea. Aromatic Madder also promotes urination and reduces swelling, used for edema and difficulty urinating especially when part of an exterior pattern.

Flos Magnoliae Liliflorae (Xin Yi Hua or Flower of Magnolia) expels wind and opens the nasal passages, used against any nasal obstruction or congestion, sinus problems and related headaches. Preparations of Magnolia applied topically to the nasal mucosa cause a decrease in secretions. When injected intravenously, intraperitoneally, or intramuscularly into anesthetized animals, Magnolia causes a remarkable decrease in blood pressure. Decoctions of this herb have a stimulatory effect on the uterus of rabbits and dogs, and in humans have a very strong inhibitory effect in vitro against many common dermatomycoses.

Ma Huang, Gui Zhi and Xi Xin are relatively strong in ability to disperse wind cold. Ma Huang and Gui Zhi are especially effective in dispersing wind cold in the Greater Yang stage when the disease resides in superficial tissues and are combined for excess cold exterior aka wind cold excess. Gui Zhi alone may be used for wind cold excess or deficiency while xi xin is effective for dispersing cold in the lesser yin stage with accompanying fever and deep pulse.

Zi Su Ye, Jing Jie and Fang Feng are more mild and moderate than Ma Huang and Gui Zhi and used accordingly. Zi Su Ye is beneficial for dispersing cold and used for exterior excess patterns. Jing Jie disperses wind and may be used for hot or cold wind. Fang Feng may also disperse wind but its mildness makes it the most moistening of herbs used to treat wind disorders. Jing Jie and Fang Feng are similar and often used together for externally contracted wind.

Qing Huo, Gao Ben and Bai Zhi all release the Exterior expelling wind damp to alleviate pain - best applied to headaches associated with externally contracted disorders. Qiang Huo and Gao Ben are warm, dry ascending and dispersing entering the Greater Yang Channel and should be used for headaches of vertex and occiput. Bai Zhi, meanwhile, enters Yang Brightness Channel and is used for frontal and orbital headache along with toothache and nasal congestion. Qiang Huo is used for wind damp painful obstruction especially of the upper body. 

Posted by Phong Luu

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