The Materia Medica provides a wealth of information and practical insight into more than 530 of the most commonly used herbs in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. Drawing from a wide range of sources, both classical and modern, it provides unparalleled perspective and detail that goes far beyond what is available elsewhere to the Western practitioner. Among its many features:
Herbs are grouped in chapters by function, with expanded summaries and tables for contrast and comparison. Each herb is identified by its pharmaceutical, pinyin, botanical, and family names, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and English common names.
Key characteristics are provided at the beginning of each entry, along with dosage, properties, channels entered, and relevant cautions and contraindications. This provides a quick overview of essential information.
Actions and indications are integrated with important combinations that illustrate the range of an herb’s functions, with references to appropriate formulas. This presents a more three-dimensional picture of how each herb is actually used.
Expanded commentary offers in-depth analysis and places each herb in its clinical context through rich historical references. The mechanisms of action underlying important combinations, and comparisons with similar herbs, provide a broader context for understanding how the herb can be used with optimal effect.
A section devoted to nomenclature and preparation describes the most important methods of processing and preparing each herb, and the advantages of each method. It also provides information about other commonly-used names and historical background.
Safety is an important focus of this edition, with an emphasis on proper herb identification. Issues concerning standardized products, desirable qualities, variants, and adulterants are explained for each herb. There is also extensive information on toxicity, as well as chemical constituents.
The utility of this book is enhanced by its wide range of appendices, among which are color photographs comparing the standard and adulterant forms of over 20 common herbs; tables of herbs that are indicated for specific pathologies of the five yin organs, and the effects of taste combinations; and extensive cross references of the herbs by taxonomy, pinyin, pharmaceutical name, and other East Asian languages. There are also comprehensive indices of both herbs and formulas, as well as a general index.