The Classical Energetics of the Five Tastes

The therapeutic actions of Chinese herbs are rooted in their tastes and nature and were first recorded in herbal classics such as the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica, while the basic instructions on their therapeutic indications were recorded in theoretical classics such as the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Canon. Modern-day application of Chinese herbs currently relies very heavily on allopathic indications. The only way to reduce this reliance is to revisit the original energetics described in these classical texts in order to gain a genuine understanding of the material medica and thereby increase one’s clinical effectiveness. This article surveys the most influential historical discourses on herb tastes and their therapeutic indications and develops a detailed zangfu and five elements system for their application using the energetics of the five flavours.

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