Dr. Jiao discusses approximately 300 Chinese medicinal herb substances in practical terms. He begins each section with basic information about a given substance such as taste, temperature, and entering channels. This is followed by a discussion of the functions and indications for the substance. Here, Dr. Jiao gives the details of specific practical applications for each medicinal, including representative formulas for each given function, and also information about specific preparations and dosages, and comparisons with other medicinals having similar or related actions.
Ten Lectures supplements standard Chinese materia medica with copious detail on clinical applications from a personal clinical experience -- information about the medicinals that is not available in any current English-language materia medica. For example, the information comparing and contrasting medicinals having similar functions can help practitioners make better clinical decisions. Dr. Jiao also discusses a specific medicinal's actions in the context of well-known and frequently used formulas. Within practical discussions of medicinal agents, he explains fundamental theory, allowing all levels of student or practitioner to gain increased understanding. Dr. Jiao elucidates information that a practitioner may have already memorized but in a way that allows for better clinical implementation. The Preface provides critical information about the study of the materia medica and the use of prescriptions. The final chapter discusses formula organization with specific examples from Dr. Jiao's own clinical experience.
Although Dr. Jiao stresses the importance of using the results of modern scientific research in order to advance the study and development of traditional Chinese medicine, he nonetheless places equal importance on the need to view these results in the context of the theories of traditional medicine. He is disturbed by the tendency for modern physicians to lose sight of traditional theories and principles in the face of biomedical research. When asked about this, he replied that the physicians of antiquity didn't know the word "hepatitis," but they could treat it without knowing anything about liver enzymes or antigen/antibody titers. He advocates a research methodology that he describes as "carrying on tradition, choosing the strong points, highlighting the distinguishing traits, and developing new ideas."