Chinese Medicinal Identification - An Illustrated Approach

Chinese Medicinal Identification - An Illustrated Approach

Chinese Medicinal Identification - An Illustrated Approach

Unit Size 560 Pages

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At last, a specialized text dedicated to herbal quality assessment!

For centuries, pharmacists and clinicians have relied on the traditional method of macroscopic identification to assess the quality and authenticity of medicinal materials.   Macroscopic identification uses the naked senses to assess herbal quality, combining appearance, texture, aroma, and taste with traditional methods of fire and water testing.  For the first time, this text brings this specialized discipline of knowledge to English readers using a concise, illustrated format that distills the experience of China’s foremost authorities in visually rich, easy-to-understand format.

Chinese Medicinal Identification: An Illustrated Approach records 429 commonly used Chinese medicinal materials (including associated medicinals), using the Chinese Pharmacopoeia (2005) combined with domestic and international market investigation as a basis for determining medicinal nomenclature.  For each medicinal, details are provided on nomenclature, origin, harvesting and post-harvest handling, functions and properties, macroscopic characteristics, and decoction pieces.  The book can be referenced via a Chinese stroke order index, a Pinyin index, and indexes organized by Latin Pharmaceutical names and Latin binomials.

This book emphasizes the experience-based differentiation of Chinese medicinal materials, which is a treasure of China’s cultural heritage that has been inherited and systematized, combining the technical terms derived from experience in differentiation with a modern scientific perspective.  At the same time, the authors draw upon a foundation of years of field research and experiments related to medicinal materials, synthesizing information on trade, literature, and techniques, dissecting each detail.  The book visually illustrates the art and science of macroscopic identification of medicinal materials in a way that is easy to learn, easy to remember, and easy to disseminate, supplementing the insufficient state of illustrations in the current literature.


  • 428 commonly used Chinese medicinals
  • Over 1000 high-resolution images of medicinal materials and decoction pieces
  • Over 400 photos dedicated to botanical, zoological, and mineral sources
  • Preservation of nearly 200 traditional technical terms used in macroscopic identification

Each of the eight areas of interest are explicated for each medicinal:

  1. The name in Chinese, Pinyin, and Pharmaceutical Latin from the 2010 Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China and other authoritative sources.
  2.  The origin of the medicinal including the zoological or botanical family names. The main entry for medicinals with multiple origins is the commonly used variety.
  3. Production Region is noted as are the primary distributions of medicinals gathered in the wild.
  4. The traditional harvesting and processing methods are noted for each medicinal. 
  5. The properties and functions are noted. These include: nature, flavor and traditional actions.
  6. Macroscopic features are exemplified in color photographs, including the traditional indications of quality.
  7. Decoction pieces are illustrated with color photographs detailing the distinguishing features of each medicinal's processed form.
  8. The eighth section complete the discussion with illustrations of the technical features, multiple species, nationally registered plantation sites and different parts of the plant that have separate entries. 

About the Author's

Dr. Zhao is the Associate Dean of Hong Kong Baptist University.  Dr. Zhao earned his Bachelor and Masters degrees from the Beijing College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and his Doctorate at Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Science. He is a member of the P.R.C. Pharmacopoeia Committee, the International Society of Pharmcognosy, an expert advisor to both the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and the W.H.O. He is extensively published in peer reviewed journals. His bilingual books include the Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Illustrated Microscopic Identification of Chinese Materia Medica, Easily Confused Medicines in Hong Kong, and Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica in Hong Kong.

Dr. Chen received his Bachelors degree from Hunan Normal University and his Doctorate from Beijing Medical University. He is a Professor of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong, Beijing and Japan. He is extensively published in China. Dr. Chen specializes in plant taxonomy, medical botany, and natural resources in Chinese herbal medicine. His texts include the Illustrated Atlas of Local and Minority Medicinal Materials of China, The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Modern Research on Rhubarb, and The Great Compendium of Health Preservation with Cordyceps

About the Editor's: 

Dr. Ping Guo is a lecturer of the School of Chinese Medicine at Hong Kong Baptist University specializing in Chinese materia medica and medicinal authentication. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Chinese materia medica in 1986, master’s degree in Pharmacognosy in 1989, and doctoral degree in Chinese materia medica in 2004 from Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He has been engaged in teaching and research activities in China and overseas higher education institutions of TCM since 1989.

Eric Brand is a graduate of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and a fluent Chinese speaker, he has pursued extensive academic and clinical opportunities in both Asia and the West. He is the author of A Clinician’s Guide to the Use of Granule Extracts and the co-author of the text Concise Chinese Materia Medica,. Eric as a particular passion for Chinese herbal processing and quality discernment and is currently pursuing these interests in his PhD studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. He is the owner of Legendary Herbs.

Published 2014

Hardcover book


ISBN 9780912111995

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