Introduction to TCM

Basics of TCM

  • Yin-Yang | Five Elements

Zang-Fu Theories

  • Zang Organs | Fu Organs

Classification of Antineoplastic Herbal Medicines

Characteristics of Herbal Medicines


  • By Auscultation & Olfaction
  • By Inspection


Theories of Channels (Meridians) and Collaterals

Reference: A Modern View of the Immune System

Differentiation of Syndromes

  • 8 Principles
  • 6 Channels 4 Stages
  • Syndromes of Zang-Fu Organs


  • Exogenous | Pestilential
  • Pathogenic Factors
  • Emotional

Materia Medica

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Characteristics of Herbal Medicines

The actions of a herbal medicine is always not one but many. For example, Calculus Bovis is not only a phlegm-eliminating agent but also a heat-clearing one; Ganoderma Lucidum seu Japonicum not only can nourish vital energy and blood, but also tranquilize the mind. Therefore, the herbal medicines are difficult to be classified categorically, and the classification mentioned in here is only based on their major effects which are accepted conventionally.

Various properties and flavors of herbal medicines exert different effects. This is an important theory of traditional Chinese pharmacology.

The Four Properties of Herbal Medicines

There are four properties of herbal medicines, i.e., cold, heat, warm and cool. In general, the herbal medicines with warm and heat properties are prescribed for cold-syndrome (e.g. aversion to cold, cold limbs, pale tongue, slow pulse, etc.) and those with cool and cold characters for heat-syndrome (e.g. fever, thirst, deep-colored urine, red tongue, rapid pulse, etc.).

The Five Flavours

The herbal medicines are grouped under five flavors, i.e., acridness, sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness, which exert different effects. Generally speaking, acridness serves to expel and to activate; sweetness, to invigorate, to regulate and to moderate; sourness, to astringe and to preserve; bitterness, to lower, to release and to dry; saltiness, to soften and to purge.

Every herbal medicine possesses a specific character and flavor of varying degrees. It is the combination of both that constitutes the overall action of individual medicine. Hence, the clinical application of herbal medicines, including the antineoplastic therapy, should be based on this conventional theory. The property and flavor of each herbal medicine are mentioned in this book as a reference for their selection in clinical practice.

However, the component of individual herbal medicines is rather complicated and its effect is usually multiple and not single. So, besides the antineoplastic effect, the other effects are also presented. And although the active antineoplastic ingredients have been isolated from some of the herbal medicines, these ingredients may exert effects other than antineoplastic. This multiple effect phenomenon is also observed in some of the western mono-component antineoplastic drugs. For example, cyclo-phosphamide can act on the various phases of proliferative cells causing degeneration of DNA, RNA, enzymes and protein and serves as a killer of tumor cells, and it is also an immunosuppresant and applied for autoimmune diseases, Corticosteroids can inhibit the lymphatic tissue and serves as an antineoplastic agent for some tumors, but it also exerts antiphlogistic, immunosuppressive, antishock and other effects, and is widely used in various diseases. Therefore, the indications of each herbal medicine presented in this site include the diseases other than neoplasms, so as to help browsers to have a more complete understanding of their effects.

Some of the pharmacologic effects of herbal medicines are also presented here. The information listed under this segment are mostly obtained from the published literatures of the experimental animal research, in vivo or in vitro, based on the principle of antineoplastic pharmacology. It has been found that the antineoplastic mechanism of herbal medicines is attributed to their actions chiefly on the proliferative phase of the tumor cells. Some of them inhibit the DNA synthesis, such as Fructus et Radix Camptothecae Acuminatae, Indigo Naturalis, Fructus Bruceae, Rhizoma Zedoariae, Radix Stephaniae Tetrandrae, etc., and some inhibit the synthesis of protein, such as Semen, Cortex, Ramulus et Folium Cephalotaxi Hainanensis, Mylabris, Radix Tylophorae Floribundae, etc. Only a few selectively act on the mitotic phase of tumor cells, such as Herba Catharanthi Rosei, Semen Coicis, etc.

Furthermore, some of the data are obtained from both animal experiment and clinical observation on the non-specific antineoplastic mechanism (chiefly the immunologic function), indicating that the enhancement of bodily immunologic function may be an important antineoplastic mechanism of herbal medicines. It has been proved that many herbal medicines can promote the phagocytosis of macrophages (e.g. Herba Hedyotis Diffusae, Herba Sarcandrae, Ganoderma Lucidum seu Japonicum, Poria, Radix Sophorae Flavescentis, etc.). Some can enhance the cellular immunity (e.g. Radix Trichosanthis, Herba Taraxaci, Bulbus Allii, etc.), and some can enhance the humoral immunity (e.g. Radix Stephaniae Tetrandrae, Radix Actinidiae Chinensis, etc.). Some can promote the activty of natural killer cells (e.g. Radix Ginseng) while some can induce the production of interferon (e.g. Radix Astragali, Radix Ginseng, Radix Actinidiae Chinensis, etc.).

In summary, the herbal medicines achieves their antineoplastic effect through various ways. Moreover, some medicine can bring on several actions, for example, they may directly inhibit the growth of tumor as well as indirectly exert an antineoplastic effect by enhancing the bodily immunologic function. Generally they elicit no significant adverse effect on the human body, and this is a strong point of herbal medicine for antineoplastic treatments. Nevertheless, research in this field is only preliminary and we need further in-depth studies to obtain conclusive results.

"Provide treatment based on syndrome differentiation" is an important principle for the clinical application of herbal medicines. This principle should also be followed in the antineoplastic treatment. In recent years, active antineoplastic ingredients have been isolated from some herbal medicines and are applied individually as various preparations for injection, for oral or topical administration. However, many of the crude herbal medicines are seldom used individually but are usually combined together to make prescriptions following the above-mentioned principle.

Traditional Chinese Medicine pages by Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA FRSPH

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With over 3000 years of experience, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has remain one of the many fascinating areas in ancient Chinese culture. First known to be documented in the Yellow Emperor's Canon of Medicine, TCM is believed to have been practised in as early as 475 to 221 B.C. The field of working knowledge of TCM stretches from anything related to general healthcare practice to the philosophy of the mind, the logic of life, religion, and even to as far as cosmology and astronumerology. This is why in order to thoroughly understand the concepts behind TCM, one must be comprehensive in learning and embracing the Chinese culture as a whole.

Just as Douglas Hoff put it when he explained about accupuncture, "The systems of TCM uses the concepts of elements and meridians and are completely immersed in the Asian cosmology which takes shape through the religions." The meridian-brain mechanism, the fundamental working concept of acupuncture, in which the pain block from the message that the needle or burning cone of herbs gives to the point of stimulus, was only found centuries later by the West through science and technology.


Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA Thank you for visiting this TCM and acupuncture information website. If you have previously been to this website, you might have noticed that some of the pages on ancient historical ideas and holistic thinkings related to Chinese metaphysics are temporarily taken offline. This is because I will be revamping the whole website and be moving those information into a new \"Ancient Chinese Culture\" section so as to reflect a more current perspective on the interpretation of some of the fundamental concepts as well as to include some of the latest information in the area. But if you have just found this website for the very first time, I welcome you again and wish you could find what you require and, hopefully, you could also be benefitted from reading the articles I published on this website.

Please be patient and do come and check out this website frequently as it's being revamped.

Raymond Cheng, PhD DPA FRSA FRSPH

March 28, 2020.


This website is published, edited and designed by Raymond Cheng, and reflects only and only his personal views and opinions in his individual capacity. The information available at this website is not intended directly or by implication to either diagnose or treat any medical, emotional, or psychological condition or disorder. It is also not intended to create a physician-patient relationship between you and I or between you and Wyith Institute™ and The Office of Dr Raymond K K Cheng. The information here is not a substitute for advice and treatment provided by your physician or by another healthcare professional. It is always recommended that consultation with local healthcare providers be obtained for any of your specific health or medical concerns. Furthermore, any products that can be purchased (yet you can see I don't have much to sell here) through advertisers' banners or through links to other websites are not either explicitly or implicitly given any warranty or endorsement by me, my colleagues, Wyith Institute™ or any of its associated businesses.