To provide the distribution pattern and compatibility laws of the constituent herbs in prescriptions, for doctor's convenience to make decision in choosing correct herbs and prescriptions for treating respiratory disease.
Classical prescriptions treating respiratory disease were selected from authoritative prescription books. Data mining methods (frequent itemsets and association rules) were used to analyze the regular patterns and compatibility laws of the constituent herbs in the selected prescriptions.
A total of 562 prescriptions were selected to be studied. The result exhibited that, Radix glycyrrhizae was the most frequently used in 47.2% prescriptions, other frequently used were Semen armeniacae amarum, Fructus schisandrae Chinese, Herba ephedrae, and Radix ginseng. Herbal ephedrae was always coupled with Semen armeniacae amarum with the confidence of 73.3%, and many herbs were always accompanied by Radix glycyrrhizae with high confidence. More over, Fructus schisandrae Chinese, Herba ephedrae and Rhizoma pinelliae was most commonly used to treat cough, dyspnoea and associated sputum respectively besides Radix glycyrrhizae and Semen armeniacae amarum. The prescriptions treating dyspnoea often used double herb group of Herba ephedrae & Radix glycyrrhizae, while prescriptions treating sputum often used double herb group of Rhizoma pinelliae & Radix glycyrrhizae and Rhizoma pinelliae & Semen armeniacae amarum, triple herb groups of Rhizoma pinelliae & Semen armeniacae amarum & Radix glycyrrhizae and Pericarpium citri reticulatae & Rhizoma pinelliae & Radix glycyrrhizae.
The prescriptions treating respiratory disease showed common compatibility laws in using herbs and special compatibility laws for treating different respiratory symptoms. These principle patterns and special compatibility laws reported here could be useful for doctors to choose correct herbs and prescriptions in treating respiratory disease.