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What are Four Natures?

four_natures4naturesEvery herb or food has a certain nature which. will result in certain responses in the body. The four natures refer to cold, cool, warm and hot. For example, herbs that are hot will increase the yang of the patient and are generally prescribed to dispel coldness, or deficiency of yang.  In general, the natures are not only limited to herbs, but exist with any food or drink we ingest.  For instance, deep fried food is hot and will increase the

yang of the body, particularly the yang of the liver system.  It is critical for the practitioner to understand this aspect of Chinese medicine in order to provide proper diagnostic and the subsequent treatment for various health conditions.  Since each prescription is custom designed for the health status of the patient based on the yin-yang balance of each of the organ systems, the natures of herbs are a particularly important consideration when the herbalist formulates the prescription.


This principle also extends to acupuncture treatments in that there are points that will tonify or strengthen the Yang of a certain organ system, and those that will reduce it.  The acupuncturist must have an intimate knowledge of all aspects of Chinese medicine theory in order to apply the correct combination of acupuncture points to heal the patient.  Without this knowledge, the blind application of acupuncture of set groups of points for set symptoms may cause more harm than good.


That is also why it makes no sense for the patient to keep getting the same precription of herbs over a long period of time since the condition of the patient changes.  A good Chinese medicine doctor goes through the TCM diagnostic in every visit to assess the health status of the patient, before determining the course of treatment, whether it be acupuncture, herbs or both.

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