Purgative herbs either stimulate or lubricate the large intestines to promote
bowel movement. They are mainly indicated in constipation. Through
the function of purgation, impacted feces and fluid remaining in the intestines
are discharged, pathogenic heat or cold dispelled and edema relieved.
Based on their functions and indications, the herbs are divided into three
classes: herbs that purge feces, herbs that lubricate intestines and herbs that
Notes in application:
interior syndrome occurs with exterior syndrome, these herbs are used with herbs
that release the exterior syndrome. Alternatively,
herbs that release the exterior are given first, then the herbs that treat the
resistance (anti-pathogenic factor) is weak, these herbs are used with tonifying
herbs should be used with caution during weakness of the body due to chronic
disease, during menstruation, pregnancy and after delivery.
herbs induce diarrhea, they should not be used once the bowel movement has
a) Herbs That Purge
that purge cause diarrhea. They are
bitter and cold in property, and function to reduce fire and promote bowel
movement. They are indicated in
retention of feces due to accumulation of excessive heat in the stomach and
intestines. They are often used
with herbs that promote Qi circulation and with herbs that clear heat and
drain feces downward.
Glauber's salt (Mangxiao)
Senna leaf (Fanxieye)
That Lubricate the Intestines
herbs are mostly seeds of plants which contain oil that lubricates the intestines
and moves the stool. They are indicated in constipation due to deficient
body fluids in an aged person or weakness of the body due to chronic
disease. This category of herbs is often used in combination with herbs
that nourish blood or promote circulation of Qi, so as to strengthen the
function of lubricating intestines for normal bowel movement.
That Transform Water
purge water. They cause the discharge of water, together with feces, from
the body. Some of these herbs
promote urination and are indicated in cases with edema in the limbs, ascites,
fullness in the chest and asthma due to phlegm-dampness.
These herbs are toxic; overdosing or prolonged administration is very
harmful to the health. When
symptoms are relieved, the herbs should be stopped.
Kansui root (Gansui)
Peking spurge root (Daji)
Croton seed (Badou)