The decocting time of herbal medicine

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JTCM-1449

The decocting time of herbal medicine, by Ding Jingyuan

This is a brief discussion of the author's personal view on the decocting times for herbs, based on the nature of the patient's condition and whether the herbs are being directing to the upper, middle or lower jiao. For exterior syndromes and for the upper jiao, herbs are boiled for five minutes only or until there is a 'fragrant smell', and 1-2 doses should be sufficient. For diseases of the stomach when the principle is to warm the middle jiao and eliminate cold, 8 minutes cooking time is sufficient. If there is pain syndrome this is increased to 12-15 minutes and the number of doses increased a little also. In treating the lower jiao the author modifies Liu Wei Di Huang Wan and cooks the herbs for 20 minutes, although individual herbs may need to be decocted for longer according to classical instructions. The author maintains that these reduced cooking times not only save time and still produce similar results to the standard cooking times, but also that it may actually be counterproductive in some cases to prepare them for longer.
JTCM December 2006

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Author Ding Jingyuan
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