|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
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
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 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
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
- 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
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,
Bai shao* Peonia alba rt liv pain, excessive menstual bleeding
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
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
Symptoms: fatigue, often poor digestion accompanied by gas, pain, bloating
after meals; depression, chronic loose bowels, a feeling of heaviness in
About The Author
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 Research. Christopher writes and lectures internationally on herbal medicine. He is a consultant to the herb industry and is currently practicing and working on a......more