To understand chinese herbal medicine

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1 Abstract

This project This project are based on two parts, research and product.

Through the research, to understand Chinese herbal medicine which must follow Chinese culture.Such as the purpose of Chinese herbal medicine is to keep the balance in the human body, and this purpose is based on Chinese Yin-yang culture.Also, there are some sociological reason can effect people's opinion, it will be discussed in the research section of the report.

The product created is a web site which provides information of Chinese herbal medicine for the interested needs of people . The system also help people to check the translation of Chinese herbs Also the users can comment on the web site,and exchange the ideas with others. The more information can be shown in the report.

2 Introduction

2.1 Project background

The background of this project can be thought of the points as follows.

At any time, healthy is a important element for the human. Especially these days, anyone should think more about their healthy under the pressure. From the research, nowadays, most people choose western medicine, but western medicine cost too much and it has other defects. In 2009, after the American singer Michael Jackson dead many people realized that eat more western medicine, which will get more adverse effect.Also, in this year, because the Swine Flu, people found the western medicine are not useful as usual. So, come back to nature, and eat more nature herbal medicine become a popular action. In the same way, Chinese Herbal Medicine will be a good choice.So, more and more people are interest in Chinese Herbal Medicine.According the address one the World Hearth Organization "During its 3000-year history, traditional Chinese medicine pioneered interventions such as diet, exercise, awareness of environmental influences on health, and the use of herbal remedies as part of a holistic approach to health."(1). Chinese Herbal Medicine can be widespread used are in evidence. But, Chinese Herbal Medicine are complicated, even for Chinese people, to understand Chinese Herbal Medicine what is not easy. So, non-Chinese people need a system which can provide the information of Chinese herbal medicine.

2.2 Problem definition

From the questionnaire, more than 80% non-Chinese people heard about Chinese Herbal Medicine, but, during these people, more than a half choose western medicine. So, why non-Chinese people do not like Chinese medicine is the first problem.

Also, from the questionnaire, more than 60% people use Internet everyday, that means,with the development of e-commerce, Internet can be a tool that provides people with different views on Chinese herbal medicine. But,during the search, until now, just a few web site can support this.

The web sites list:


On the other hand, there are some problems in these three web sites.

This web site can provide some herbs on line, it is a on-line shopping web site.

But, there are not some information of Chinese herbal medicine. From this web site, users only can buy the herbs, they can not learn some knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine.

This web site can not provide the knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine also.

This web site can provide some knowledge of Chinese herbal medicine, but, in these knowledge, some are not useful, also, the translation is not good.

In summary, although there are a few web sites can support Chinese herbal medicine. But, they still have some problem. So, people need a new system can provide the information of Chinese herbal medicine,

2.3 Aims

The aim of this project is to design, built a web site system which will allow users to understand Chinese herbal medicine. Another aim is to find the reason of non-Chinese people dislike Chinese herbal medicine.

2.4 Objectives

  • Gather information on questionnaires.
  • Do the research of the topic
  • Interview with the Chinese doctor
  • Design the system.
  • Build the system.
  • Test the system.
  • Evaluate the design of the website.
  • Do the final report on project.

3 Literature review

3.1 Chinese herbal medicine

-A practical guide to the healing power of herbs>

Author:Dr. Guang Xu

In this book, the author try to give a general overview about Chinese herbal medicine. The interest chapter can include two parts, one is Chinese herbal medicine history, another one is the elements of Chinese herbal medicine.

At beginning of this book, there is not a clearly definition of Chinese herbal medicine, but, this book provide a few different views of Chinese herbal medicine for people.

Chinese herbal medicine has a long history that more than 5000 years. The history can go back to the time of Sheng Nong.

Through the Chinese herbal medicine history, the readers can find, The time of Chinese people that used plants to treat the illness further than a few thousand years. So, it is better for the non-Chinese people that know some history.

Also, in the beginning of this book, it said:''since Chinese herbal medicine is rooted in the culture of centuries, it can not be easily explained or measured by modern scientific language and methods. Without a total understanding of its background and its history, it is very difficult to understand.''(page1)

  • So,according to the Chinese Culture,basically, there are two different elements can effect Chinese Herbal Medicine, one is Yin and Yang, another one is Five-Element Theory. To understand these two elements is easily for western people that comprehend Chinese Herbal Medicine.
  • 1) Yin and Yang

    Yin and Yang, which is from traditional Chinese philosophy. It is the name of two related things which are opposites that in the natural world. That means, everything in the universe that can have two opposites, such as sunshine, fire, light, these tings are Yang. Such as, grey, dark,cold, these are Yin. In Chinese Medicine, Yin-Yang theory is a important element through the whole medicine system,also, it can explain the body system and guide the treatment.

    The Yin-Yang theory can be simply explained as fallows:

    • Yin-Yang can be meant that everything in the world, there are two opposites, such as sky and land, sun and moon, but, although they are opposites, they also can be an unity. Through this unity, the natural world can keep the balance well.
    • Also, Yin-Yang depend with each other. That means, if there is no Yang, also would be no Yin. However, when the balance of the Yin-Yang's relationship of the substance are destroyed, It will be the end of the life.
    • On the other hand, Yin-Yang have a special relationship, if one wanes while another one will waxes.For example, just as seasons, if winter changes to spring, the weather should be warm. It is the process of Yin waxes and Yang wanes.

    2) Five-Element Theory

    The Five-element theory include fire,metal,water,wood and earth, also it include their motions. The ancient Chinese people found these five element are the basic substances in universe. These five kinds of elements have relationship of generation and restriction, also, in Chinese Herbal Medicine, Chinese doctors use them to describe the problems of disease.

    There are some words of five-element theory.

    1. reinforcing the spleen (earth) to strengthen the lung (metal)
    2. failure of water (kidney) to nourish wood (or failure of the kidney to nourish the liver)
    3. five movements and six climates
    4. wood tending to spread out freely
    5. Depression of the liver (wood) generating fire
    6. fire of the liver (wood) impairing the lung (metal)
    7. fire tending to flare/flame upward
    8. excessive fire impairing the lung (metal)
    9. failure of fire to generate earth
    10. coordination between water (kidney) and fire (heart)
    11. incordination between the kidney (water) and the heart (fire)
    12. "being restricted" and "restricting"

    Traditional Chinese herbal medicine, however, can be based on two treatments which are on philosophical concept.

    l. The Holistic Concept

    By this concept, there is a general meaning of; the human body is a unity and a universe within body. On the other hand, it has a close interaction with the world. Traditional Chinese Medicine maintains that human body is composed of different organs; each organ has its own distinct function, which is a part of the whole body. Also, Chinese medicine regards as the whole body is an organic body. "Its constituent parts are inseparable in structure, interrelated and interdependent in physiology". Man has a nature life, and nature provides an environment for man's survival. So, human can be affected by nature. Traditions Chinese Medicine says" Physicians have to know the law of nature and geographical conditions when diagnosing and treating diseases" . That is the reason of Tradition Chinese Medicine not only stresses the human body is a unity but also regards the interrelationship between the body and nature environment.

    2. Treatment by Differentiation of Syndromes

    To understand Chinese herbal medicine, on the other hand, is understanding by Treatment by differentiation of Syndromes. The meaning of differentiation is analysis the diseases by comprehensive. "So differentiation of syndromes implies that the patient's symptoms and signs collected by the four diagnostic methods are analyzed and summarized so as to identify the etiology, nature and location of a disease, and the relation between vital qi and pathogens, thereby determining what syndrome the disease belongs to".

    According to the relationship between "disease" and "treatment", tradition Chinese medicine is based on two different ways. One is "treating the same disease with different therapies" , the meaning is the same disease may different manifest in different situation. Another one is "treating different diseases with the same therapy". , the meaning is the different disease can be manifested in the same situation may be treated in the same way.

    In summary, using different methods for the development of the disease is the core of Treatment by Differentiation of Syndromes.

    3.2 Chinese Medicine-The web that has no weaver


    Author:TED J.kaptchuk

    Why some westerners dislike Chinese Medicine? From 2.2, there is a philosophic reason, that Chinese culture are hard to understand. But, another reason is sociological. That is the way of western people thinking about Chinese Medicine. In this chapter, author give two different way of seeing and thinking via western view, If non-Chinese people can found these two ways, that they will become more interest in Chinese Medicine.

    The first one is"As a result, many westerners have strange notions about Chinese medicine, Some of them see it as hocus-pocus-the product of primitive or magical thinking.If a patient is cured by means of herbs or acupuncture, they see only two possible explanations: Either the cure was a placebo effect, or it was an accident".(page 1)

    Nowadays, many non-Chinese people, when they heard about some Chinese medicine, the first feeling in their mind is that, Chinese medicine is magical. That is not science. The reason can be understand that Western medicine like data. Western doctor prefer using data to treat disease. But, Chinese Medicine prefer the experience of doctor.

    Some Western people, when they got sick, if they think Western medicine can not treat this, then, they will think about Chinese Medicine. In their deeply mind,they think Chinese medicine can not be use. If they get well by using Chinese medicine, but, they still think, it is an accident.So, some Western people think about Chinese medicine in this way. But, Chinese medicine is not just an accident.

    Another way of thinking is "Other Westerners have a more favorable but equally erroneous view of Chinese medicine.Deeply and often justifiably disturbed by many of the products of Western science and culture, they assume that the Chinese system, because it is felt to be more ancient, more spiritual,or more holistic, is also more "true" than Western medicine."

    In this way, some Westerners like Chinese medicine, but, because the different background, different culture,different history, so, they image Chinese medicine by using their own culture. Also, they can know Chinese medicine by TV, Internet and some other media, and then, in their mind, Chinese medicine should like this. But, actually, they never use Chinese medicine. All the idea just accord to their mind.

    In this chapter, there are two kinds of Westerners, one kind of people used Chinese medicine, but, they think that Chinese medicine is less logical, it is not based on science, it depends on patient's fortune. Another kind people think Chinese medicine through their own culture.Their mind often disturbed by this culture and other media. So, in their head, they have a different image of Chinese herbal medicine. But, many times, this image is incompleted.

    This chapter can be used to describe the sociological reason that westerners dislike Chinese medicine. To understand Chinese medicine should be based on a whole system."The Chinese method is based on the idea that no single part can be understand except in its relation to the whole.Understanding that overall pattern,with the symptom as part of it, is the challenge of Chinese medicine. The Chinese system is not less logical than western, just less analytical. " (page 7).

    3.3 Chinese herbal me

    dicine Formulas and Strategies>

    Author: DAN Bensky and Randall Barolet

    Author:Zhu Zhongbao

    From the name"Chinese herbal medicine", people can know that it include two parts, one is Chinese herbal and one is Chinese medicine. In these two books, authors try to describe Chinese herbal by using different ways, the fist book gives some formulas and the second one use many herbal stories. But, during this research, the important purpose is that finding the translation of Chinese herbal.

    These days, more and more Chinese doctors found, to translate Chinese herbal name is hard. Because, the herbal name is based on Chinese culture and history, According to the book "Translating the names of the formulas was difficult because there are so many acceptable solutions. Bearing in mind that this book is a reference text. Our choices reflect as closely as possible possible the meaning and syntax of he original Chinese. We use anglicized Latin names for medicinal substances" Readers can find the right translations of herbal from these two books.

    For example:

    1) Cang zhu


    English name: Swordlike Atractylodes Rhizome

    Pharmaceutical name :Rhizoma Atractylodis

    Nature and flavor: Pungent, bitter and warm


    1. Dries dampness and strengthens the spleen
    2. Dispels wind dampness
    3. Induces sweat, releases the exterior


    1. Syndrome of dampness stagnation in Middle Burner
    2. Impediment syndrome due to wind damp
    3. Exterior syndrome of wind , cold and dampness
    4. Chickenpox, mumps and scarlet fever
    5. Infantile rickets
    6. Night blindness and dry eyes
    7. Diabetes

    2)Jin Yin Hua


    English name: Honeysuckle Flower

    Pharmaceutical name: Flos Lonicerae Japonicae.

    Nature and flavor:Sweet and cold


    1. Clears away heat and resolve toxin
    2. Disperses wind and heat


    1. External contracted wind-heat, the onset of warm disease
    2. Carbuncle and clove sores
    3. Bleeding due to heat toxin

    More information about translation will be given by chapter 3"result and disscuess".

    3.4 Interview with a Chinese doctor

    Location: brent cross doctor herb

    Student Name: Yuan lei wang

    Follow the supervisor's advise, this interview gave some useful information via a professional view. The Chinese doctor of doctor herb described the changing of Chinese herbal medicine during this 10 years.After translation,recording, collecting and analysis, the main point can be summarized as follows.

    Back to the beginning, there are two main reason, which can make Chinese herbal medicine can not develop, the first one is the government, the second one is Western society.

    l The reason of government

    In the past, because Chinese government was not strong, and open. So, just little people are interest in Chinese culture,history, also Chinese herbal medicine. On the other hand,Chinese government also did not care about Chinese herbal medicine, that cause less and less people know this medicine,even in China. Also, In UK, the British government did not admit Chinese herbal medicine are legitimacy. That make Chinese herbal medicine stop developedment.

    l The reason of Western society

    Until now, Chinese herbal medicine still can not be used in many hospitals. In Western society, Chinese herbal medicine just can be used as adjunctive therapy. Such as acupuncture. Because the culture is different, so, it is hard for non-Chinese people to understand this medicine,

    Also, NHS(national health service ) did not admit Chinese herbal medicine, and most of the GP(general practitioner) dislike Chinese herbal medicine, they think this medicine is an accident not a science.

    On the other hand, in UK, treatment is free for people, but if a person want to see the Chinese doctor, that he must pay some fees. So, less and less people went to Chinese medicine shop.

    l Now, Chinese herbal medicine in UK.

    These years, because, China become more stronger and open. More and more non-Chinese people went to china, and be interest in Chinese culture. That include Chinese herbal medicine.

    Now, in UK, there are more than 3000 Chinese medicine shops. Its incidence has increase by over 30% in the least 30 years. More and more English people choose Chinese herbal medicine.

    On the other hand, the British government plan to write Chinese herbal medicine into the law. So, this year is the best time for Chinese herbal medicine.

    (More information will be given in result and discussion )

    3.5 BBC Channel 2:Back-pain acupuncture effective

    Date:Thursday, 14 September 2006, 23:02

    BBC channel 2:Acupuncture 'deactivates brain

    Date:Saturday, 21 January 2006

    A few yeas ago, a British doctor wanted to discovered acupuncture, so, she did the test in York university. And then BBC made this test became a TV programme. In the early programme, the doctor try to use the acupuncture instead the general anaesthetic.

    During in this programme, Professor Sykes said: "The pain matrix is involved in the perception of pain - it helps someone decide whether something is painful or not, so it could be that acupuncture in some ways changes a person's pain perception. "But he added: "The thing about acupuncture is that it does not work on everyone. It is more likely to be effective if you believe it."I think it is a psychological manipulation technique, a distraction. We are not going to get to the stage where this could be used instead of a general anaesthetic."

    Then the second programme wanted to tell people "Acupuncture for low back pain is cost-effective and works, according to medical researchers."

    According the interview of Chinese doctor, the doctor remembered that after this TV programme, many people found that Chinese herbal medicine are useful for their body. More and more English people went to the Chinese medicine shop.

    In this example, the media can provide a good method and this method can let more people know Chinese herbal medicine.

    But, because this BBC programme just broadcast during midnight, so, some people missed it. So, people should find another media to instead TV.

    3.6 Result and discuss

    Through the questionnaire and the interview with Chinese doctor, The data can be showed:

    From this graph, the reason of English people dislike Chinese Herbal Medicine can be described by four parts. In these four parts, more than half people think that Chinese Herbal Medicine are hard to understand, then some people think that they do not know where can buy the medicine. Just few people choose they never heard Chines Herbal Medicine.

    According to the data, The reason can be concluded by two points:1) Culture 2) Translation.3) Media 4) Government 5) The tastes of Herbal. In these data,

    Culture belong philosophic reason, media, translation, government and the tastes of herbal belong sociological reason.

    1) Culture:

    From the , Chinese Herbal Medicine are based on the Chinese culture, but, because the differences between Chinese culture and Western culture. So,English local people should know the characteristic of Chinese Medicine.

    l Preventing is more important than treatment .

    Chinese medicine book "Yellow Emperor" said: "people should treat disease before they have it.," That means. People should take care their body although they do not get sick. Another book "Hua inan zi" said: "The good doctor who often treat non-disease, hence there is no disease." That means, if a doctor can find a person's disease before this person get it, he will never get this disease. Also, this prevention-oriented medical thought that people should care their healthy from an early age, This idea can transformated as a measure of dialectical philosophy,which is the essence of Chinese culture.

    l Nature and Man should be together

    Form the overall concept of Chinese philosophy. This focus on that human and nature world should be together, like a body. That the world and the human are not isolated, and they are interdependent, interacting, interrelated and interdependent. Back to the Chinese Herbal Medicine, it also have the same opinion.

    Chinese herbal medicine advocates astronomy, geography, and personnel should be a whole looking. A nature human can not leave the social world to survive. The factors that influence health and disease,not only biological factors, but also social and psychological factors, So, Chinese Herbal Medicine also advocates treating should focus on the change of nature world.

    l To adjust the balance of yin and yang

    Chinese Medicine mention that the yin and yang are two sides ,which are relatively representative of the body. The formation and growth is inseparable from the development of yin and yang. In the body's normal physiological conditions, to maintain the relative balance of yin and yang, which is important, if there is one changed , it will cause the body's normal physiological function of disorder, All the actions that human done in the nature world, which are inseparable from the balance of yin and yang, Therefore, .The purpose of coordination shows that traditional Chinese culture focus on symmetry, bedrock philosophy of balance.

    l Static and dynamic idea of the constant Combining .

    From the early age, Chinese Philosophy already found relationship between static and dynamic understanding , "Zhou Yi (Book of Changes)" said "The static and dynamic thing can happen all the time", "That means,substance in nature world should keep moving and changing. Chinese Medicine find , in the whole human life, everything in the body, should keep changing until death. Moving is the rule of nature world, also, It is the basic element of human healthy.So, Chinese Medicine stress that keep moving which can treat disease.

    Nowadays, people know that sporting is good for healthy. That is the same with Chinese Herbal Medicine view.

    On the other hand, comparing with dynamic view, Chinese Herbal Medicine also found that silence also can keep healthy. "Qi Gong" is based on this opinion. So, Static and dynamic element should be completed.


    A good translation can let different country people understand Chinese Herbal Medicine. But, because, Chinese Herbal Medicine have their special culture, history background, so, it is hard to translate the words. That cause more and more English people loss the interesting of Chinese Herbal Medicine.

    The reason as follows

    l The philosophic meaning in the medicine name. Some Chinese Herbal Medicine name are based on their own philosophic meaning. Such as Ying Yang, Yuan Qi and so on, if people do not know Chinese philosophic culture, it would be hard to translate.

    l Some Chinese doctor, when they translate medicine name, they just copy some western medicine name. But, actually they are totally different medicine, it should not have the same name.

    l Because the history of China. Chinese Herbal Medicine are based on the old knowledge system. Through more the thousand years, some of them already lose their meaning, just a few people can understand, So, although Chinese people, who want to translate medicine names , which are hard..

    Media: according to the interview with the Chinese doctor, media is very important in order to let more people know Chinese medicine. But, some media, such as TV programmes, people often miss them.

    Government: In the past time, the British government still can not admit Chinese herbal medicine, that cause less and less people trust it.

    Herbsl: From the questionnaire,there was one person said: the tastes of Chinese herbs are very bad, nobody can drink them. That means, the Westerners do not like the tastes.


    After the research, there are some suggestion for Chinese herbal medicine.

    1. Using some short stories to tell people Chinese culture.
    2. To use a new media that can support Chinese herbal medicine.
    3. To make some rules in translations.
    4. To invent a new kind of herb, that can change the tastes.

    Chinese herbal medicine are hard to understand, a few months are not enough for the research, and the translations are hard also. So, in this research, there might be some problems.

    4 Product

    4.1 Product requirement:

    Nowadays, more and more people want to find out the information about Chinese herbal medicine. So, they need some methods that can provide. Until now, there are some TV programmes and newspapers can support this. But, both of them have some weakness.

    l According the review, because, some Chinese herbal medicine TV programmes broadcasted in midnight. That cause many people miss this programme.

    l Nowadays, less and less people read newspapers.

    l Althrough people are interest in some TV programmes, but, it is hard for them to store the information.

    So, people need another method. That can provide a simple environment that can help the students understand the courses easily. Web site can make this come true., when people read information via Internet, they can receive knowledge anytime, everywhere. And they can store the data which they like. It is quick and easy. To a certain extent, this product can replace the traditional method.

    In short, this product base on computer technology and internet, this system make finding information easily and more colorful. However, it can give people more than they did before.

    4.2 The product detail

    This product is a web site system, it can provide users three kinds of function.

    The aim of each function can be describe, to solve the problems that already been discussed in literature review, So, the product detail will follow these functions.

    4.2 1Resources review

    Comparing with another scripting language ASP, PHP has some positives.

    l PHP can runs faster than ASP.

    l In IIS4, if there is one ASP script "head.asp" can be included by twenty web pages. After running, the computer memory will have twenty "head.asp" copies. This problem can make computer slowly. But, PHP without this problem.

    l If users want to use ASP, they should choose Access as database, but, Access is slow. But, PHP can support MY SQL as database, MY SQL is much faster than Access.

    l Until mow, ASP just can runs in windows system, If users only know Linux, they will face troubles, but, PHP can runs in other systems, such as Solaris?Linux.


    Mysql is a relational database management system, it is widely used for some medium web sites, also, these days, it can be used for some large web sites, such as facebook, google.

    Mysql is designed by C and C++, that can promise the database can runs in different system.

    One Mysql database can support many users.

    Mysql is fast and free.

    Also, Mysql can support many languages,such as Chinese, Japanese.

    4.3 Evaluation of product

    To evaluate this web site is based on heuristic evaluation. That can give a general overview of the web site, also, through this way, it can give a good idea for developer to increase the web and system design.

    The purpose of this evaluation is that, users have a task to browse the complete web pages. This task should be start on the home page. And finish when users get the feedback. Through this way, users can have a general view of the system.

    Evaluate this web site system should as follows.

    l User control and freedom

    Users control and freedom can be understand that system can support users undo or do. Through the task we choose, users can find that it is not easy for them to control the web sites. ie, in the comment page, when users submit the words, they will find that there is a button for them to resubmit.

    l Fun and enjoyment

    According the purpose of this web site. The web site should give the information of the Chinese herbal medicine to users. That mentions the web pages should be fun, but these web pages are boring, ie. 1)All the background colours are white.2) The web site is too simply , There is no enjoyment for users.

    l Feedback

    Feedback is important for users to understand the information of the web site. In this web site, users can comment and see the result, they can get feedback.

    l Provide short cuts

    Short cuts are easily for users to find goal which they want. In general, the web site is well, users want to know the information of Chinese herbal medicine, they will find them on the home page.

    l Aesthetics and minimalist design

    Normally, users can have a good feeling with a good minimalist design. But, this web site is boring at this part. Through all web pages, there is no colour, no pictures, all the buttons are closed with each other. That might be caused some mistakes of users.

    On the other hand, there are some positive parts, the users can find buttons easily, and on the last page, there is a comment page, it good for interaction between users and web site.


    In summary, this web site is fine, users can get the information about Chinese herbal medicine from this web site, also, this web site has guest page. Users can have a good interaction with the system.

    According heuristic evaluation, there are some negative aspects. Such as, 1)This system is very simply . 2) The colours are not very good. 3) It is boring for users 4) Some steps are not useful.

    Anyway, this web site can give users a general opinion of Chinese herbal medicine. On the other hand, because this project should spend a lot of time on research. So, the time is not enough for the system designing.


    There are some aspects which need to recommend.

    1. It should change colours of the web pages.
    2. The system should not be simple.
    3. The web site should increase some enjoyment.
    4. It should provide the search function for users.
    5. The web pages should give more freedom to users.


    1. Dr Guang Xu. (1996) Chinese herbal medicine-a practical guide to the healing power of herbs (1st Edition), vermilion, London
    2. TED J.kaptchuk(2000) Chinese Medicine-The web that has no weaver (3rd Edition),Rider,London