These brief descriptions use the traditional Chinese descriptions of the actions of the herbs. All Chinese herbs are classified in specific categories, describing their basic, overall functions. These categories would have titles such as 'herbs that cool the blood', 'herbs that stabilise and bind' or 'herbs that calm the spirit' etc. As you will see, these ancient descriptions make perfect sense, even today, when speaking about the treatment of a hot, red, itchy skin condition such as eczema / dermatitis.
Ledbouriella / Shaposhnikova sesseloides (Fang Feng)
Classified as an herb that 'releases the exterior' which refers to removing conditions that arise in the superficial areas of the body. The traditional way of looking at the actions of these herbs is very similar to the old British idea of 'bringing a rash out' onto the surface and thus venting or getting rid of it.
Classified as an herb that 'cools the blood'. This term is self-explanatory in that it refers to the fact these herbs are used to cool the body, or parts of it when there is heat caused by fever or inflammation. This herb, strangely enough, is a purple colour, reminiscent of inflamed skin!
(Sheng di huang)
Another herb that 'cools the blood'. Often used when there is a long-term, 'smouldering' type of heat as in eczema or even inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis.
(Chi shao yao)
An herb that 'invigorates the blood'. When 'blood energy' becomes static or stagnant various conditions can arise such as congestion, inflammation and ulceration. This can affect the skin also and these herbs help to re-energise the skin in eczema patients.
(Dan zhu ye)
Classified as an herb that 'drains fire'. If you have eczema then that description will mean a lot to you. These herbs are used for all hot and febrile conditions.
(Bai xian pi)
This is a herb that 'clears heat and relieves toxicity'. Even nowadays we talk of toxins in our body and how they may be associated with various ailments. This class of herb helps to remove them. A useful herb for itchy skin problems but also for those that ooze and weep. It has also been used as a skin wash for inflammatory skin conditions.
(Bai ji li)
This herb 'extinguishes wind and stops tremors'. The term 'wind' in Chinese medicine refers to a pathological influence that can cause irritation and itching, and so Tribulus is useful in the treatment of itchy skin conditions.
This is a herb that 'tonifies the Qi'. In other words, it is used to improve the basic constitutional strength and energy of the body. This is important in any long-term, energy sapping condition such as chronic eczema. In modern, western chemical terms Glycyrrhiza, which is liquorice, contains chemicals that have a steroid like anti-inflammatory effect.
Another herb that 'releases the exterior'. Schizonepeta is used as a powerful aid to venting rashes, bringing them out and alleviating itching. It is used for a whole host of 'rashes' and diseases that manifest through the skin including such conditions as boils and measles.
(Mu dan pi)
An herb that 'cools the blood'. This herb contains the well studied anti-inflammatory chemical 'paeonol', which at one time was thought to be one of the main active components of the Chinese formulas.