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 Herbal Medicine: Deficiency Syndromes Herbs and Herbal Tonic Formulas 
 
Tonics herbs are the highest and most sought-after herbal remedies in many traditional systems of healing, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. These herbs nourish specific cells, tissues, organs, and the whole individual, and are often used for long periods of time. These remedies help focus and call forth the biogenetic potential or vitality of the individual for use such as supporting the immune system, nerve function or hormonal system.

Tonics are very gentle and slow stimulants, and they provide nutrients that the body can use, such as vitamins, minerals, and many other constituents like plant pigments, such as anthocyanins or flavonoids. Large quantities can be given without harm of overstressing cells, tissues, organs or body systems.

Most importantly, the therapeutic and toxic doses are very far apart--giving a large margin of safety. For this reason, these herbs are called "superior" herbs in TCM.

The tonics are remedies that are well-tolerated, do not force the body to change and have a slow, nourishing and normalizing effect on body systems, imparting strength and tone. In western herbal medicine, these medicines were called "alteratives," "roborants" or even "tonics." The most famous example in this category is ginseng.

The two types of tonics are:

1) stimulating tonics (gently stimulates functional activity, like weight-lifting stresses and builds muscle)

2) nourishing tonics (provides vitamins, minerals, other nutrients and building blocks for proper tissue health and organ function.

Deficiency Conditions
Deficiency of blood, Qi (vital energy), yin (vital essence) and yang (functional energy) are common and can lead to pathology and symptoms involving any body system. Herbal "tonics" are used to relieve deficiencies. Following is a list of herbs and herb formulas to tonify blood, Qi, yin and yang.

Keep the following guidelines in mind when using tonics:
  • Take tonics regularly for at least 3 months, on up to 9 months (a usual course for moderate deficiencies) or even for years with chronic or severe deficiencies (AIDS).
  • Tonics are not suitable for people with excess conditions, such as robust individuals who have a stimulating diet with atherosclerosis.
  • Tonics are warming, so excess amounts must be avoided during the acute phases of pathological heat-type infections--or use sparingly with cool, heat-clearing herbs, such as oregon grape root.
  • Tonics are often sticky and moistening (rehmannia), so they should be used cautiously with damp, stagnant spleen conditions (add aromatic, pungent herbs like atractylodes or ginger to counteract this tendency) and with overweight people.

Blood Tonics
Symptoms: dizziness, pale face, lips and tongue, fatigue, small pulse; in women, scanty or absent menstrual flow.
Shu di huang   rehmannia rt           ht, liv, ki    fatigue, poor sleep, chronic fatigue,     
               (prepared)                            infertility, impotence                    
He shou wu     Polygonum              liv, ki        weak heart, palpitations, involuntary     
               multiflorum rt                        seminal emission                          
Dang gui       Angelica sinensis rt   ht, liv, sp    menstual imbalances, infertility,         
                                                     constipation during menstruation,         
                                                     menstrual pain                            
Bai shao*      Peonia alba rt         liv            pain, excessive menstual bleeding
**P.    
                                                     californica avail. Santa Lucia mts.,      
                                                     south; P. alba is a common ornamental     
Gou qi zi      Lycium fr              liv, ki        increases production of sperm and         
                                                     blood, supports vision                    
Nettles lf*                           liv, ki        prostatitis, fatigue, poor sperm          
                                                     production, scanty menstrual flow         
Yellow                                   liv, li        constipation, poor fat digestion, low     
dock
root*                                           hematocrit during pregnancy               
Spirulina*                            liv, ki, ht    low hematocrit, protein deficiency in     
                                                     vegetarians, low sperm count              
Sea                                   ki, ht, liv    slow metabolism, overweight,              
vegetation*                                          neurasthenia, weakness due to anemia      
Qi Tonics
Symptoms: fatigue, often poor digestion accompanied by gas, pain, bloating after meals; depression, chronic loose bowels, a feeling of heaviness in the limbs.
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 About The Author
Christopher Hobbs LAc, AHG Christopher Hobbs is a fourth generation herbalist and botanist with over 30 years experience with herbs. Founder of Native Herb Custom Extracts (now Rainbow Light Custom Extracts) and the Institute for Natural Products......more
 
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