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TCM herbal classifications glossary

Here is a non-exhaustive list of Traditional Chinese Medicine terms used.

Five Palm Sweat Characteristic sweat associate with Yin deficiency appearing on the palms, the soles of the feet and chest.

Fu The hollow Yang organs of the body

Ke Cycle The cycle of mutual control in the Five Elements system

Kong Qi Qi derived in the lungs from the air

Jiao Refers to the areas of the body; “heater” or “burner”

Jin Ye Body Fluids; Jin refers to the lighter fluids, Ye to the denser fluids

Jue Yin Arm and leg channels of the Pericardium and the Liver

Mingmen Fire The nature of the essential warming energy of Kidney Yang. Considered to be vital in maintaining the heat in the body.

Shao Yang San Jiao and Gall Bladder channels

Shao Yin Heart and Kidney channels

Tai Yang The small intestine and Bladder channels

Tan Yin The Lung and Spleen channels

Wei Qi Defensive Qi, which protects the body from invasion by external pathogenic factors. It flows just beneath the skin.

Qi (chi) The Chinese term for the life force or vital energy of the universe, which is fundamental to all aspects of life. It permeates the whole body and concentrates in the channels.

Qi External In Chinese medicine, any factors influencing the body from outside.

Yin One aspect of the complementary opposites in Chinese philosophy. It reflects the more passive, still, reflective aspects. It is the opposite to Yang.  

Yang One aspect of the complementary opposites in Chinese philosophy. Reflects the more active, moving, warmer aspects. It is the opposite to Yin.

Yang Ming Large intestine and Stomach channels

Zheng Qi Normal or upright Qi; Qi that circulates through the channels and the organs of the body

Zong Qi Gathering Qi; the Qi that gathers in the chest areas through the coming together of Gu Qi and Kong Qi

These definitions are from the book Complete Chinese Medicine – A Comprehensive System for Health and Fitness by Tom Williams PhD.

TCM physicians use eight treatment methods (ba fa):

  1. Han fa – Sweating ‘When it is at the level of the skin, use sweating to discharge it!’
  2. Tu fa – Vomiting ‘When it is at the upper level, draw it up and out’ – (rarely used today)
  3. Xia fa – Draining downwards ‘When it is at the lower level, lead and draw it down’
  4. He fa – Harmonising a broad category used to integrate and bring a formula together.’
  5. Wen fa – Warming ‘Warm that which is cold.’
  6. Qing fa – Clearing ‘Clear that which is warm…treat hot with cold.’
  7. Xiao fa – educing ‘Pare away that which is firm, disperse that which is clumped.’
  8. Bu fa – Tonify ‘Tonify that which is deficient. Augment that which is injured.’

You can read more about TCM formulations and how they work here.

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