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The Use of Herbs and Food in Taoism (Part 1)

"Many practitioners of the Taoist arts of health use foods and herbs to supplement their training.  The use of herbs and special foods must go hand in hand with the practition-
er's condition of health and spiritual development.  If foods and herbs are used inappro-
privately, internal injuries can occur. 

In Chinese herbology, herbs can be divided into three main groups: those that have cur-
ative properties, those that are used as preventative medicine, and those that facilitate
the gathering and circulation of internal energy.

Herbs with curative properties are prescribed to control illness or strengthen the consti-
tution.  They include herbs that women take to replenish blood and energy lost during childbirth.  Herbs that act as preventive medicine can help to maintain general health
and strengthen the body's immune system.  As a child I took such herbs regularly.  The third group, those that affect the circulation and cultivation of internal energy, are usu-
ally taken in conjunction with spiritual training.  These herbs have powerful effects, and
should be taken only under the guidance of a teacher or doctor.  Some herbs are only
suitable when the practitioner has attained both internal and external strength, and
others are effective only if the blockages in circulatory pathways are opened.  At best, taking the wrong herbs will be a waste of resources, as the body will reject what it can-
not absorb.  However, some herbs can be harmful if they are ingested inappropriately.
The best approach to the use of herbs is to  consult with the teacher of the program you are studying."           "Taoism"    Eva Wong

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