The Tastes and Properties (Wu Wei) of Chinese Herbs

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The Tastes and Properties (Wu Wei) of Chinese Herbs

The Five Tastes (Wu Wei)

Spicy (Xin) - Yang in Nature

Substances that enter the Lung Meridian.

Spicy substances can scatter, disperse, and move.

  • Diaphoretic, Treats Cold, and is Nourishing
  • Invigorates Blood and Moves Blood Stagnation

Sweet (Gan) - Yang in Nature

Substances that enter the Spleen Meridian.

Sweet substances can scatter, tonify, harmonize, and are sometimes thought to moisten.

  • Alleviate Pain and Spasms
  • Nourish and Tonify the Middle Jiao
  • Changes the taste of Herbal Formula

Bitter (Ku) - Yin in Nature

Substances that enter the Heart Meridian.

Bitter substances can drain, clear Heat, dry Dampness, and descend Fire.

  • Asthma
  • Constipation
  • Retention of Dampness due to Heat or Cold

Sour (Suan) - Yin in Nature

Substances that enter the Liver Meridian.

Sour substances can drain, astringes, improve digestion, soften the arteries, and prevent or reverse the abnormal leakage of energy and fluids.

  • Diarrhea
  • Spermatorrhea
  • Excess Perspiration
  • Softens Arteries

Salty (Xian) - Yin in Nature

Substances that enter Kidneys.

Salty substances can drain, purge, and soften masses

  • Softens and Dissolves Lumps and Masses
  • Constipation
  • Reduce Phlegm

Extra Tastes/Properties

Bland (Dan) - Yang in Nature

Substances that seep and drain, leech out dampness and promote urination

  • Edema
  • Dysuria

Astringent (Se) - Yin in Nature

  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding
  • Spermatorrhea
  • Frequent Urination
  • Excess Perspiration

References Used

The TCM information presented here has been referenced from numerous sources; including teachers, practitioners, class notes from Five Branches University, the following books, as well as other sources. If you have benefited from this information, please consider supporting the authors and their works by purchasing the books below.