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Most Westerners feel like strangers to the healing apothecary herbs of China, yet some of these herbs such as honeysuckle, mint, gardenia, hawthorn, dandelion and quince grow in our own gardens. Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system, which has diagnosed, treated and prevented illness for over twenty three centuries. Chinese Medicine uses plants, minerals, and sometimes animal products prepared in specific ways and combinations of them to form therapeutic prescriptions. The strategy of Chinese Medicine is to restore harmony (balance), and the goal of treatment is to balance Yin and Yang, that represent the opposite forces or attributes such as wet and dry, cold and heat, inner and outer, body and mind. This harmony is achieved by the regulation of Qi (vital energy) and of moisture and blood in the organ networks.
In Chinese Medicine the causes of disease can come both from external and internal factors and also form fatigue and inappropriate foods.
Each herb is classified in terms of its nature, taste and the particular organ it enters. For example, gardenia, skullcap and dandelion are categorized as "cold" herbs and for this reason they are used to treat hot disorders such as infections and inflammatory illnesses. On the other hand, cinnamon and dried ginger are both "hot" herbs and are used to treat cold conditions, such as "cold" arthritis (stiff joints that are cold to touch and relieved by warmth) and "cold" stomach pain (stabbing stomach pain relieved by warm drinks and aggravated by cold foods such as ice-cream).
Traditionally in Asia external washes, lotions, and creams are used alongside the internal prescriptions. The famous properties of pearl powder are well known and included in creams to clear the skin of blemishes and keep it young and healthy. Many of the herbs that are used internally as medicines can also be applied topically. These external lotions also clear heat, damp and fire toxin away from the skin, while healing and soothing the acne sores.
Dry skin in Chinese Traditional Medicine is due to Blood and "Yin" Deficiency (lack of body fluids and blood nourishing the skin), and the herbs that nourish blood and Yin are used to strengthen and moisten the skin. These herbs also cleanse the blood and improve its quality therefore improving a quality of the skin. Many of these "blood nourishing" herbs are used in creams as well as taken internally such as Chinese Angelica, Wolfberry fruit, Fleeceflower root and Chinese foxglove root.
Some foods are moisturising for the skin such and therefore recommended as a part of well balance and skin improving diet. Between them avocado oil, wheat germ and almond oil, apple juice, peach juice, oatmeal and brewer's yeast are well known and accepted "skin enhancers".