Compatibility art of traditional Chinese medicine: from the perspective of herb pairs.J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Sep 28; 143(2):412-23.JE
Over the past decades, research of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) mainly focused on developing potential candidates from Chinese medicinal herbs, while the wisdom of applying these traditional herbs has not been paid as much attention as it deserves. As is well-known, multi-herb therapy is one of the most important characteristics of TCM, but the modernization drive of this conventional wisdom has faced many obstacles due to its unimaginable complexity. Herb pairs, the most fundamental and the simplest form of multi-herb formulae, are a centralized representative of Chinese herbal compatibility. In light of their simplicity and the basic characteristics of complex formulae, herb pairs are of great importance in the studies of herb compatibility.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A systematic search of herb pair related research was carried out using multiple online literature databases, books and monographs published in the past 20 years.
A comprehensive introduction to the compatibility of TCM, the position of herb pairs in TCM and the progresses of several famous herb pairs were provided in this review. Furthermore, the clinical study and the future research trends of herb pairs were also discussed.
Herb pairs have played, and may continue to play a key role in full investigation of general herb compatibility for their indispensable position in TCM. Much more research is needed for the standardization, safety evaluation, and mechanism exploration of herb pairs.