​​​The Office of Dr. John Aguilar, Jr.

Importantly, terms used are translations of Chinese medical terminology and should not be misconstrued as equivalent in meaning to the same or similar English words. For instance, "liver" as used in Chinese medicine may refer to the organ, a specific section of tissue running from the big toe to the head, or even a set of behavioral of psychological characteristics. Similarly, "blood" as used in Chinese medicine has much in common with the modern medical usage. However, there are very important differences, for instance, the Chinese medical understanding of the strong relationship between blood and the mind. 

Except where noted, all information comes from Brand, Eric and Wiseman, Nigel. Concise Chinese Materia Medica. ​New Mexico: Paradigm Publications, 2008.

​Herb Actions and Functions

*** The following information is intended strictly for edification of those patients actively receiving professional Chinese medical care. This information alone is insufficient - even for a fully trained physician - to base a diagnosis upon or guide medical care. There are many details required for treatment, about the patient and the herbs, that are not given here. Further, a hallmark of proper care is oversight by a trained clinician. Readers are advised not to attempt to employ this information for the purposes of self-diagnosis or self-care.

*** The list of herbs is currently under construction with new herbs being added every week. If you are a current patient and an herb in your formula is not listed, let me know, and I will get the information posted within 24 hours.

​​​​To assist in locating specific herbs quicker, it is suggested you use your browser's search feature, for instance, pressing "CTRL + F" and entering the name of the herb in the search box.

For each herb, the following information is given:

  • Chinese pīnyīn romanization, e.g., bái sháo, followed by the Chinese characters (in traditional form)
    • This is the name by which the herb is most commonly identified.
  • Common English name(s), e.g., white peony
  • Latin Pharmaceutical Name, e.g., Paeoniae Radix Alba
  • Therapeutic Nature and Flavor, e.g., bitter, sour, sweet; slightly cold
    • ​Nature and flavor, in part, indicate actions and effects of the herbs. For example:
      • ​Bitter - drains and dries
      • Acrid (pungent, spicy) - disperses and moves
      • Sweet - strengthens, harmonizes, relaxes, and moistens
      • Sour - astringes
      • Salty - purges and softens
      • Bland - leech out dampness and promote urination

               Bear in mind, that which is listed does not necessarily correlate to one's direct                        experience upon tasting the herb. For example, some acrid herbs taste pungent,                    but not all.

  • Channel entry, e.g., liver, spleen
    • ​This category also indicates, in part, the therapeutic effects of the herb. The channels an herb enters are largely the systems within which the herb has effect.
  • Dose, grams per day
  • Chinese medical functions and actions, e.g., nourish blood, calm liver yang
    • ​It is especially important here to bear in mind these are translations of Chinese medical terms. Often, the English is an effective, rough equivalent. However, quite often these should not be taken as exact equivalents to the English words used.



Bái biǎn dòu 白扁豆; lablab [bean]; also called hyacinth bean; Lablab Semen Album

     Sweet; slightly warm; spleen, stomach; 10-30 grams

     Fortifies the spleen and transforms dampness; disperses summerheat

Bái sháo 白芍; white peony [root], Paeoniae Radix Alba

     Bitter, sour, sweet; slightly cold; liver, spleen; 10-30 grams

​     Nourishes the blood and regulates menstruation; emolliates the liver and relieves pain;

            calms liver yang; constrains yīn and checks sweating

Bái zhǐ 白芷; Dahurian angelica [root]; Angelicae Dahuricae Radix

      Acrid; warm; lung, stomach; 3-10 grams

      Resolves the exterior and disperses wind; dispels wind and relieves pain; disperses

            swelling and expels pus 

Bái zhú 白朮; white atractylodes [rhizome]; Atractylodis MAcrocephalae Rhizoma

     Bitter, sweet; warm; spleen, stomach; 5-15 grams

     Supplements qì and fortifies the spleen; dries dampness and disinhibits water; checks                      sweating; quiets the fetus 

Bǎi zǐ rén 柏子仁; arborvitae seed; also called Oriental arboervitae seed; Platycladi                 Semen; also called Biotae Semen

      Sweet; balanced; heart, kidney, large intestine; 10-20 grams

      Nourishes the heart and quiets the spirit; moistens the intestines and frees the stool

Bàn xià 半夏; pinellia [rhizome]; Pinelliae Rhizoma

​      Acrid; warm; toxic; spleen, stomach, lung; 3-10 grams

      Dries dampness and transforms phlegm; downbears counterflow and checks vomiting;                   disperses swelling and relieves pain

       [Dr. Aguilar's note - The listed toxicity of this and other herbs is mitigated with specific                   preparation techniques and is safe for use within professional Chinese medical                       guidelines.]

Bò hé 薄荷; mint; also called field mint; Menthae Herba

      Acrid; cool; lung, live; 2-10 grams

      Disperses wind-heat; clears and disinhibits the head and eyes; disinhibits the throat;                       outthrusts papules; courses the liver and moves qì

Bǔ gǔ zhī 補骨脂; psoralea [fruit]; also called scurfy pea [fruit]; Psoraleae Fructus

      Acrid, sweet; warm; spleen, kidneyl 6-15 grams

      Supplements the kidney and assists yáng, secures essence and reduces urination; warms             the spleen adn checks diarrhea; promotes qì absorption and calms panting 


Cāng ěr zǐ  蒼耳子; xanthium [fruit]; Xanthii Fructus

      Acrid, bitter; warm; slightly toxic; lung; 3-10 grams

      Frees the basal orifices; dispels wind-damp and relieves pain

      [Dr. Aguilar's note - The listed toxicity of this and other herbs is mitigated with specific                   preparation techniques and is safe for use within professional Chinese medical                       guidelines.]

Cāng zhú 蒼術; atractylodes [rhizome]; Atractylodis rhizoma

     Acrid, bitter; warm; spleen, stomach; 5-10 grams

     Dries dampness and fortifies the spleen; dispels wind-damp impediment; treats external                  contraction of wind-cold dampness

Chái hú 柴胡​; bupleurum [root]; also called hare's ear [root]; Bupleuri Radix

      Bitter, acrid; slightly cold; 3-10 grams

      Harmonizes and resolves the exterior and abates heat; Courses the liver and resolves                     depression; uplifts yang qi

(Shí) Chāng pú (石)菖蒲; ​acorus [root]; Acori Tatarinowii Rhizoma

      Bitter, acrid; warm; heart, stomach; 5-10 grams

      Open the orifices and quiets the spirit; transforms dampness and harmonizes the stomach

Chē qián zǐ 車前子;plantago seed; also caleld plantain seed; Plantaginis Semen

      Sweet; cold; kidney, liver, lung (some sources also say uirnary bladder or small intestine);               10-15 grams

      Disinhibits water and frees stranguary; percolates dampness and checks diarrhea; clears                 the liver and brightens the eyes; clears the lung and transforms phlegm

Chén pí 陳皮; tangerine peel; Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium

      Acrid, bitter; warm; spleen, lung; 3-10 grams

      Moves qì and fortifies the spleen; dries dampness and transforms phlegm

      [Dr. Aguilar's note - Chén pí is often used in formulas to aid in digestion of the formula.]

Chì sháo 赤芍; red peony [root]; Paeoniae Radix Rubra

      Bitter; slightly cold; liver; 6-15 grams

      Clears heat and cools the blood; qiockens the blood and transforms stasis

Chuān bèi mǔ 川貝母; ​Sichuān fritillaria [bulb]; also called fritillaria [bulb]; Fritillariae                    Cirrhosae Bulbus

      Bitter, sweet; slightly cold; lung, heart; 3-6 grams

      Clears heat and transforms phlegm; moistens the lung and relieves cough; dispereses                   phlegm and binds

Chuān liàn zǐ 川楝子; ​toosendan [fruit]; Toosendan Fructus

      Bitter; cold; mildly toxic; liver, stomach, small intestine urinary bladder; 3-10 grams

      Moves qì and relieves pain

      [Dr. Aguilar's note - The listed toxicity of this and other herbs is mitigated with specific                      preparation techniques and is safe for use within professional Chinese medical                          guidelines.]

Chuān xiong 川芎; chuanxiong [rhizome]; Chuanxiong Rhizoma

      Acrid; warm; 3-10 grams

      Quickens the blood and moves qì; dispels wind and relieves pain


Dà huáng​ 大黃; rhubarb [root and rhizome]; also called Chinese rhubarb; Rhei Radix et


      Bitter; cold; spleen, stomach, large intestine, liver, heart; 5-10 grams

      Drains and percipitates to attack accumulations; drains fire and resolves toxin

Dān shēn 丹參; salvia [root]; also called red-rooted sage [root]; Salviae Miltiorrhizae Radix

      Bitter; slightly cold; liver, heart; 5-15 grams

      Quickens the blood and regulates menstruation; disperses welling-abscesses

Dàn zhú yè 淡竹叶; 

Dāng guī 當歸; Chinese angelica [root]; also called tangkuei [root]; Angelicae Sinensis                   Radix

      Sweet, acrid; warm; liver, heart, spleen; 5-15 grams

      Supplements the blood; quickens the blood and relieves pain; moistens the intestintes

Dǎng shēn 黨參; codonopsis [root]; Codonopsis Radix

      Sweet; balanced; spleen, lung; 10-30 grams

      Supplements spleen and lung qì; engenders liquids; nourishes blood

Dú huó 獨活; pubescent angelica; also called tohuo [angelica root]; Angelicae Pubescebtis             Radix

      Bitter, acrid; slightly warm; liver, gallbladder; 5-15 grams

      Dispels wind-damp and relieves impediment pain; resolves the exterior

​Dù zhòng 杜仲; eucommia [bark]; Eucommiae Cortex

      Sweet; warm; liver, kidney; 10-15 grams

      Supplements the liver and kidney; strengthens sinew and bone; quiets the fetus  


Fáng fēng 防風; saposhnikovia [root]; also called ledebouriella [root] or siler [root];                         Saposhnikoviae Radix

       Acrid, sweet; slighlty warm; urinary bladder liver, spleen; 3-20 grams

      Dispels wind and resolves the exterior; overcomes dampness and relieves pain; resolves               tetany

Fú líng 茯苓; poria; also called hoelen, tuckahoe; Poria

      Sweet, bland; balanced; heart, spleen, kidney; 10-15 grams

      Disinhibits water and percolates dampness; fortifies the spleen; quiets the spirit  


Gān cǎo 甘草; licorice [root]; also spelled liquorice [root]; Glycyrrhizae Radix

      Sweet; balanced; 3-10 grams

      Supplements heart and spleen qì; dispels phlegm and relieves cough; relaxes tension and             relieves pain; harmonizes the nature of medicinals; clears heat and resolves toxins​

Gǒu qǐ zǐ 枸杞子; lycium [berry]; also called matrimony vine [fruit], boxthorn fruit; Lycii                     Fructus

      Sweet; balanced; liver, kidney (some sources say lung); 5-15 grams

      Supplements the liver and kidney, brightens the eyes

Gōu téng 鉤藤; uncaria [stem and thorn]; Uncariae Ramulus cum Uncis

      Sweet; slightly cold; liver, percardium; 10-15 grams

      Extinguishes wind and checks tetany; clears heat and calms the liver 

​Guì zhī 桂枝; cinnamon twig; Cinnamomi Ramulus

      Acrid, sweet; warm; lung, heart, bladder; 3-10 grams

      Promotes sweating and resolves the exterior; warms and frees the channels


Hé huān pí 合歡皮; silk tree bark; Albiziae Cortex

      Sweet; balanced; heart, liver; 10-15g

      Quiets the spirit and resolves depression; quickens the blood and disperses                                     swelling

Hé shǒu wū (zhì) 何首烏 (炙); ​flowery knotweed [root]; also called multiflorous                         polygonum [root]; Polygoni Multiflori Radix

      Sweet, astringent; slightly warm; liver, kidney; 10-30 grams

​      Supplements essence-blood

Hóng huā 紅花; carthamus [flower]; also called safflower; Carthami Flos

      Acrid; slightly warm; liver, heart; 3-9 grams

      Quickens the blood and frees the menses; dispels stasis and relieves pain

(Huái) Niú xī 懷牛膝; ​achyranthes [root]; Achyranthis Bidentatae Radix

      Bitter, sour, sweet; balanced; liver, kidney; 6-15 grams

      Quickens the blood and frees menstruation; supplements the liver and kidney and                           strengthens sinews and bones; disinhibits urine and frees stranguary; conducts fire and             blood downward

      Note - Chuan niu xi (cyathula [root]; Cyathulae Radix) is similar in action to (Huái) Niú               xi. However, it is more effective in quickening the blood and transforming stasis, and                 lacks the ability to supplement the liver and kidney and to strengthen the sinews and                 bones.

Huáng bǎi 黃柏;  phellodendron [bark]; also called amur cork tree bark; Phellodendri                      Cortex

      Bitter; cold; kidney, large intestine, urinary bladder; 5-10 grams

      Clears heat and dries dampness; drains fire and resolves toxin' abates vacuity heat

Huáng qí 黃芪; astragalus [root]; Aastragali Radiz

      Sweet; slightly warm; spleen, lung; 10-15 grams

      Boosts qì and upbears yáng; boosts defense and secures the exterior; disinhibits water                   and disperses swelling; expresses toxin and engenders flesh

      [Dr. Aguilar's note -  ​Zhǐ Huáng qī 炙黃芪, honey stir-fired astragalus, has similar                          properties, but is stronger in upbearing yáng and weaker in boosting the defense.] 

Huáng qín 黃芩; scutellaria [root]; also called Baikal skullcap [root] or scute;                             Scutellariae Radix

      Bitter; cold; lung, stomach, gallbladder, large intestine; 3-10 grams

      Clears heat and dries dampness; drains fire and resolves toxin; cools the blood and

            stances bleeding; eliminates heat to quiet the fetus     

Huáng lián 黃連; coptis [rhizome]; also called goldthread [rhizome]; Coptidis Rhizoma

      Bitter; cold; heart, liver stomach, large intestine; 1.5-10 grams

​      Clears heat and dries dampness; drains fire and resolves toxin  



Jié gěng 桔梗; platycodon [root]; also called balloonflower root, Chinese bellflower root;                 Platycodonis Radix

      Bitter, acrid; balanced; lungl 3-10 grams

      Diffuses the lung and transforms phlegm; disinhibts the throat; expels pus

Jīn yín huā 金銀花; lonicera [flower]; Lonicerae Flos

      Sweet; cold; lung, stomach, large intestine; 10-30 grams

      Clears heat and rsovles toxin; disperses wind-heat; checks dysentery; treats painful

            swollen throat due to wind-heat or heat toxin

Jīng jiè 荊芥; schizonepeta; Schizonepetae Herba

      Acrid; slightly warm; lung, liver; 3-10 grams

      Dispels wind and resolves the exterior; outthrusts papules and relieves itching; disperses                 sores; stanches bleeding 

Jú huā 菊花; chrysanthemum [flower]; Chrysanthemi Flos

      Acrid, sweet, bitter; slightly cold; liver, lung; 10-15 grams

      Disperses wind-heat; clears the liver and drains fire; brightens the eyes; calms lver yáng;             clears heat and resolves toxin 



Lián qiào 连翘;forsythia [fruit]; Forsythiae Fructus

      Bitter; slightly cold; lung, heart, galbladder; 10-15 grams 

      Clears heat and resolves toxin; disperses welling-abscesses and bnds

Lóng yǎn ròu 龍眼肉; longan flesh; Longan Arillus

      Sweet, warm; heart, spleen; 10-15 grams

      Supplements the heart and spleen, nourishes the blood, and quiets the spirit



Mài mén dōng 麦门冬; ophiopogon [root]; Ophiopogonis Radix

      Sweet, slightly bitter; slightly colld; stomach, lung, heart; 6-12 grams

      Nourishes lung yīn and clears lung heat; boosts the stomach and engenders liquid; clears

            the heart and eliminates vexation

Mò yào 末藥; frankincense; also called olibanum; Olibanum

       Acrid, bitter; warm; heart, liver, spleen; 3-10 grams

      Quickens the blood, moves qì, relieves pain, and dis[erses swelling; dispels putridity and

            engenders flesh

Mǔ dān pí 牡丹皮; moutan [bark]; also called tree peony [bark]; Moutan Cortex

      Bitter, acrid; slightly cold; heart, liver, kidney; 6-12 grams

      Clears heat and cools the blood; quickens the blood and transforms stasis; abates vacuity


Mǔ lì 牡蠣; oyster shell; Ostreae Concha

      Salty, astringent; slightly cold; liver, kidney; 10-30 grams

      Calms the liver and subdues yáng; softens hardness and disperses binds; quiets the spirit

Mǔ xiāng 木香; costusroot; Aucklandiae Radix

      Acrid, bitter; warml spleen, stomach, large intestine, gallbladder, triple burner; 3-10 grams

      Moves qì, regulates the center, and relives pain

      [Dr. Aguilar's note - Mǔ xiāng is often added to herbal formulas aiding in their digestion.]


​Niú bàng zǐ 牛蒡子; burdock [seed]; Arctii Fructus

      Acrid, bitter; cold; lung, stomach; 3 -10 grams

      Disperses wind-heat and disinhibits the throat; outthrusts papules; resolves toxin and

            disperses welling 




Qiāng huó 羌活; notopterygium [rhizome and root]; Notopterygii Rhizoma et Radix

      Acrid, bitter; warm; urinary bladder, kidney; 3-12 grams

      Disperses wind-cold; dispels wind-damp and relieves pain

Qīng pí 青皮; unripe tangerine peel; Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium Viride

      Acrid, bitter; warm; liver, gallbladder, stomachl 3-10 grams

      [Dr. Aguilar's note - Strongly courses liver qi.] 


Rén shēn 人參; ginseng [root]; Ginseng Radix

      Sweet, slightly bitter; slightly warm; heart, lung, spleen, (some sources add kidney); 5-10


      Greatly supplements original qì; supplements lung qì; supplements the spleen; engenders

            liquid; quiets the spirit and sharpens the wits (improves mental faculties)

​Ròu guì 肉桂; cinnamon bark; also called cassia bark, Chinese cinnamon bark;

            Cinnamomi Cortex

      Acrid, sweet; hot; kidney, spleen, heart, liver; 2-5 grams

      Supplements fire and assists yáng; disperses cold and relieves pain; warms the

            channels/menses and drees the vessels



​Shú dì huāng 熟地黃; cooked rehmannia [root]; also called Chinese foxglove [root];

            Rehmanniae Radix Praeparata

      Sweet; slightly warm; liver, kdiney; 10-30 grams

      Supplements the blood; enriches yīn; boosts essence and replenishes marrow


Táo rén 桃仁; peach kernel; Persicae Semen

      Bitter, sweet; balanced; slightly toxic; liver, heart, lung, large intestine; 5-15 grams

      Quickens the blood and transforms stasis; moisteens the intestines and frees the stool 





Xiāng fù 香附; cyperus [rhizome]; also called nu grass [rhizome]; Cyperi Rhizoma

      Acrid, slightly bitter, slightly sweet; balanced; liver, spleen, triple burner; 6-12 grams

      Courses the liver and recitfies qì; regulates menstruation and relieves pain


Yè jiāo téng 夜交藤; flowery knotweed stem; also called multiflorous polygonum stem;         Polygoni Multiflori Caulis

      Sweet; balanced; heart, liver; 10-30g

      Hourishes the heart and quiets the spirit; dispels wind and frees the network vessels