The purposes of processing Chinese medicinal herbs are briefly summarized as follows.
Removing or reducing the toxicity, drastic properties and side effects of some Chinese medicinal herbs. For instance, the toxicity of medicinal herbs, such as Chuanwu ( Radix Aconiti ), Caowu ( Radix Aconiti Kusnezoffii ), Gansui ( Radix Euphorbiae Kansui ) , and Tiannanxing ( Rhizoma Arisaematis ), will be reduced when they are processed; Changshan (Radix Dichroae), after taken, easily induce vomiting and if used to prevent recurrence of malaria, the side effects can be reduced after stir-baked with wine.
Promoting therapeutic effects. For instance, Baibu ( Radix Stemonae ) and Pipaye ( Folium Eriobotryae) roasted with honey can promote nourishing the lung to relieve cough; Chuanxiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong) and Danggui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis ) stir-baked with wine can promote warming channels to circulate the blood; Yanhusuo (Rhizoma Corydalis) prepared with vinegar can strengthen the effects of relieving pain; the effect of invigorating the spleen to relieve diarrhea will be strengthened after Baizhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae) is stir-baked with earth; Xiangfu (Rhicoma Cyperi) prepared with vinegar can promote soothing the liver and regulating liver-qi
Modifying the natures and actions of Chinese medicinal herbs so as to make them suitable for therapeutic requirements. For instance, Shengdihuang (Radix Rehmanniae) cool in nature has the effect of eliminating blood-heat, but after processed, it can be warm and good at nourishing the blood; Heshouwu (Radix Polygoni) in raw form has moistening-purging effect, but after processed, it can be good at invigorating the liver and kidney; Dahuang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei ) in raw form has strong effect of purging, whereas after processed, its purging effect can decrease and after stir-baked into charcoal, it hardly has purging effect but is good at stopping bleeding.
Facilitating decocting and taking medicine, making preparation and storing medicine. Most botanical medicinal herbs after cut into segments or pieces will be easily decocted in water and their effective components will be easily dissolved out or the forms of medicines will be easily prepared. And most minerals and shells of Chinese medicinal herbs, after calcined or quenched with vinegar, will be easy to be ground into powder. Some medicinal herbs are to be stir-baked and fully dried so as to be kept for a long time from being moldy and rot.
Taking away the impurity, non-pharmaceutical parts and unpleasant tastes, thus making the medicinal herbs clean and pure, and convenient for patients to take. The pharmaceutical herbs which are generally mixed with mud and sand must be washed and the impurity in the plants must be cleared away, thus they are convenient for patients to take. Some pharmaceutical plants need to be softened so as to be easily cut or pre- pared. The hair of some plants must be brushed away; heads, feet or wings of some pharmaceutical animals must be taken out; and the salty or offensive taste or smell of some sea products must be eliminated by rinsing with water.
[PDF] Purposes of processing Chinese medicinal herbs