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Dr. Tsueyhwa Lai and Dr. Henry McCann
Medicinal syrups, known as gao zi in modern Chinese, are a traditional - although lesser-known - method of herb
administration in Chinese medicine. Gao zi are highly concentrated decoctions, usually made with supplementing
herbs and thickened with sugar, gelatin, or fat, which are then used for internal administration. Although they
are labour-intensive to prepare, they store well for long periods of time and are easy to take, and are thus an
effective way of taking herbal formulas. Since they taste better than normal decoctions, they can improve patient
compliance with treatment over a long period of time. This article is an introduction to gao zi in Chinese medicine
and gives an overview of their history, characteristics, preparation methods and administration. Exemplar
formulas and case studies are also provided to illustrate how gao zi are used in the clinic.
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