List of the 110 Chinese herbs considered as safe as food

By Me & Qi
Jun 08, 2021

There are 2,711 Chinese Medicine herbs listed in the official Pharmacopoeia of China, compiled by the Pharmacopoeia Commission of the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China.

These herbs are further classified into 3 categories:

  1. Herbs classified as food (this list). These are the safest.
  2. Herbs classified as dietary supplements. Please see list here.
  3. Herbs classified as medicine, which you cannot get without a doctor's prescription.

The list below are the 110 herbs that were classified as food in the latest 2020 edition of the pharmacopoeia. In China this means that these ingredients are regulated as food and can be freely sold as such. As such they're considered the safest herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

This list can be extremely useful to anyone living in Western countries because many of these ingredients have been little studied in these countries. For instance in WebMD, a leading US health information website, it is currently written for chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua) that "there isn't enough information to know if chrysanthemum is safe". This would sound totally ridiculous to millions of Chinese who drink it daily as a tea and have done so for centuries!

At the end of the day, China remains the best source of information for Chinese herbs because it is were all these ingredients have been studied in depth and used for centuries.

Without further due, please find the list below. Please note that any herb with an asterisk * is recommended in the pharmacopoeia to be used as food only in limited dosage.

 

Name Pinyin Chinese
Adzuki Bean Chì Xiao Dòu 赤小豆
American ginseng Xī Yánɡ Shēn 西洋参
Amomum villosum pods Shā rén 砂仁
Angular Solomon's seal root (polygonatum odoratum) Yù zhú 玉竹
Apricot kernel Xìngrén 杏仁
Balloon flower roots (platycodon) Jiégeng 桔梗
Dadai orange flowers Dài dài huā 代代花
Black pepper Hēi hújiāo 黑胡椒
Black sesame seeds Hēi zhīma 黑芝麻
Black-tail Snake Wū shāo shé 乌梢蛇
Brown mustard seeds (brassica juncea) Huáng jièzi 黄芥子
Buddha's hand (finger citron) Fóshou 佛手
Japanese bush cherry seeds (pruni semen) Yùlirén 郁李仁
Cao guo (amomum tsao-ko)* Cao guo 草果
Cape jasmine fruit (gardenia jasminoides) Zhī zi 栀子
Chicken Gizzard skin Jī nèi jīni 鸡内金
Chicory Jújù 菊苣
Chinese cinnamon (cinnamomum cassia) Ròuguì 肉桂
Chinese liquorice (glycyrrhiza uralensis) Gāncao 甘草
Chinese nutmeg (torreya grandis) Feizi 榧子
Chinese plum (prunus mume) Wūméi 乌梅
Chinese quince (pseudocydonia sinensis) Mùguā 木瓜
Star anise Bājiao huíxiāng 八角茴香
Chinese white olive (canarium album) Qīngguo 青果
Chrysanthemum flowers Júhuā 菊花
Cilantro* Yánsuī 芫荽
Clove Dīngxiāng 丁香
Codonopsis roots* Dang Shēn 党参
Common purslane Ma chi xiàn 马齿苋
Common reed rhizome (phragmites communis) Xiān lú gēn 鲜芦根
Cornelian cherries* Shān Zhū Yú 山茱萸
Dahurian angelica root Báizhi 白芷
Dandelion Púgōngyīng 蒲公英
Dendrobium* Shí Hú 石斛
Desert Living Cistanche* Ròu Cōng Róng 肉苁蓉
Dong quai (angelica sinensis)* Dāngguī 当归
Donkey-hide gelatin (angelica sinensis) Ē Jiāo 阿胶
Dried citron (citrus medica) Gān Jiāng 干姜
Dried ginger(citrus medica) Xiāng yuán 香橼
Dried nanfengmiju mandarin Jú hóng 桔红
Dried nanfengmiju mandarin peel Jú pí 橘皮
Eucommia leaf* Dù Zhòng Yè 杜仲叶
Fennel seeds Xiao huíxiāng 小茴香
Fermented soybean Dàn dòuchi 淡豆豉
Field thistle (cirsium setosum) Xiao jì 小蓟
Foxnut seeds (euryale ferox) Qiànshí 芡实
Gastrodia rhizomes (euryale ferox)* Tiān Má 天麻
Ginger Jiāng
Ginkgo seeds Báiguo 白果
Ginseng* Rénshēn 人参
Goji berry Gouqi zi 枸杞子
Greater burdock seeds (arctium lappa) Niú péng zi 牛篣子
Hawthorn berry Shānzhā 山楂
Heal-all (prunella vulgaris)* Xià kūcao 夏枯草
Hemp seeds Huo má rén 火麻仁
Honey Fēngmì 蜂蜜
Honeysuckle flowers* Shān yín huā 山银花
Houttuynia herb (houttuynia cordata) Yú xīng cao 鱼腥草
Hyacinth beans (lablab beans) Bái biandòu 白扁豆
Indian gooseberry (phyllanthus emblica) Yú gānzi 余甘子
Japanese honeysuckle flowers (lonicera japonica) Jīnyínhuā 金银花
Job's tears (coix lacryma-jobi) Yìyi rén 薏苡仁
Jujube dates Zao
Jujube seeds Suānzao rén 酸枣仁
Kencur root (kaempferia galanga)* Shānnài 山奈
King Solomon's seal root (polygonatum kingianum) Huángjīng 黄精
Kombu (kelp) Kūnbù 昆布
Korean mint (agastache rugosa) Huò xiāng 藿香
Kudzu root* Gégēn 葛根
Kudzu root powder Fen gé 粉葛
Lablab flowers Bái biandòu huā 白扁豆花
Lalang grass rhizome (imperata cylindrica) Xiān bái máogēn 鲜白茅根
Lesser galangal root (alpinia officinarum) Gāoliáng jiāng 高良姜
Lily bulb Baihé 百合
Lingzhi mushroom* Línɡ Zhī 灵芝
Long pepper (piper longum)* Bì bá 荜茇
Long-stamen onion bulb (allium macrostemon) Xièbái 薤白
Longan fruit Lóngyan ròu 龙眼肉
Lophatherum gracile herb (lophatherum gracile) Dànzhú yè 淡竹叶
Lotus leaf Hé yè 荷叶
Lotus seeds Liánzi 莲子
Malt Màiyá 麦芽
Malva nut (scaphium affine) Pàng dàhai 胖大海
Masson's pine pollen* Huáng Qí 黄芪
Milkvetch roots* Sōng huāfen 松花粉
Monk fruit (siraitia grosvenorii) Luóhànguo 罗汉果
Mulberry fruit Sāngrèn 桑葚
Mulberry leaves Sāng yè 桑叶
Nutmeg Ròu dòukòu 肉豆蔻
Pagoda tree flowers (sophora japonica) Huái mi 槐米
Palmleaf raspberry fruit (rubus chingii hu) Fù pénzi 覆盆子
Peach seeds Táorén 桃仁
Peppermint Bòhé 薄荷
Perilla leaves (perilla frutescens) Zi sū 紫苏
Perilla seeds (perilla frutescens) Zi sū zi 紫苏籽
Poria mushroom (wolfiporia extensa) Fúlíng 茯苓
Radish seeds (semen raphani) Láifú zi 莱菔子
Rose flowers (rosa rugosa)* Méiguī huā 玫瑰花
Saffron* Xī hóng huā 西红花
Sea buckthorn fruit Shājí 沙棘
Sharp-leaf galangal fruit (alpinia oxyphylla) Yì zhì rén 益智仁
Shiral leaves (microcos paniculata)* Bù zhā yè 布渣叶
Sichuan pepper Huājiāo 花椒
Sicklepod seeds (senna obtusifolia) Juémíngzi 决明子
Sponge gourd (luffa cylindrica) Sīguā 丝瓜
Sword bean (canavalia gladiata) Dāo dòu 刀豆
Turmeric root* Jiānghuáng 姜黄
Vietnamese balm (elsholtzia ciliata) Xiāngrú 香薷
Viper snake Fù shé 蝮蛇
Yam Shānyào 山药

 

Article tags: Chinese herbal medicine

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