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Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Third Edition

Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Third Edition 



  • Dan Bensky (Compiler) 
  • Steven Clavey (Compiler)
  • Erich Stoger (Compiler)
  • Andrew Gamble (Compiler)
  • Lilian Lai Bensky (Illustrator)


  • Hardcover: 1311 pages
  • Publisher: Eastland Press; 3rd edition (September 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0939616424
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 8.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.20 pounds 


Book Description 

The new 3rd edition of Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica is designed to give practitioners the information they need to practice Chinese herbal medicine with greater understanding and confidence. It provides a wealth of new information -– more than twice the content of the previous edition — and practical insight into more than 530 of the most commonly used herbs in the Chinese pharmacopoeia.

Drawing from a wide range of sources, both classical and modern, this edition provides unparalleled perspective and detail that goes far beyond what is available elsewhere to the Western practitioner.

Herbs are grouped in chapters by function, with expanded summaries and tables for contrast and comparison. Each herb is identified by its pharmaceutical, pinyin, botanical, and family names, as well as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and English common names.

Key characteristics are provided at the beginning of each entry, along with dosage, properties, channels entered, and relevant cautions and contraindications. This provides a quick overview of essential information.

Actions and indications are integrated with important combinations that illustrate the range of an herb’s functions, with references to appropriate formulas. This presents a more three-dimensional picture of how each herb is actually used.

Expanded commentary offers in-depth analysis and places each herb in its clinical context through rich historical references. The mechanisms of action underlying important combinations, and comparisons with similar herbs, provide a broader context for understanding how the herb can be used with optimal effect.

A section devoted to nomenclature and preparation describes the most important methods of processing and preparing each herb, and the advantages of each method. It also provides information about other commonly-used names and historical background.

Safety is an important focus of this edition, with an emphasis on proper herb identification. Issues concerning standardized products, desirable qualities, variants, and adulterants are explained for each herb. There is also extensive information on toxicity, as well as chemical constituents.

The utility of this book is enhanced by its wide range of appendices, among which are color photographs comparing the standard and adulterant forms of over 20 common herbs; tables of herbs that are indicated for specific pathologies of the five yin organs; and extensive cross references of the herbs by taxonomy, pinyin, pharmaceutical name, and other East Asian languages. There are also comprehensive indices of both herbs and formulas, as well as a general index. 

About the Author(s)

Dan Bensky is a graduate of the Macau Institute of Chinese Medicine (Oriental Medicine Diploma, 1975), University of Michigan (B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature, 1978), Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (Doctor of Osteopathy, 1982), and the University of Washington (M.A. in Classical Chinese, 1996). He is co-author of the companion volumes Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica and Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas & Strategies, and co-translated and edited Acupuncture: A Comprehensive Text. Dr. Bensky is in private medical practice in Seattle, and is a director of the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine.


The Chinese medicinal products bible – required reading, March 22, 2005

At last, Bensky et al. third edition is finally out and what a vast source of knowledge it is. For anyone using Chinese medicinal products, this really is your bible. Massively expanded from the 2nd edition, there are hundreds more many medicinal products included.

Wonderfully categorised, excellently explained, beautifully illustrated and well indexed, this text allows all readers to easily source detailed information on hundred of medicinal products used in Chinese medicine.

Required reading for all Chinese medicine doctors and those wanting to learn more about Chinese medicinal products. Can’t wait for Bensky et al. `Formulas and Strategies’ 2nd edition!