Chinese Herbal Medicine & Formulae 1

General Information
Duration 1 semester (14 teaching weeks)
Level Year 1, Semester 2
Unit Weighting Unit Credit Points: 10 credit points
Total Course Credit Points: 320 credit points
Student Workload Number of timetabled hours per week: 4
Number of personal study hours per week: 6
Total workload hours per week: 10
Prerequisites/ Corequisites TCM103 Fundamental Theory of TCM, PRI104 Communication in Health
Academic Details
Description This unit introduces students to the principles of Chinese herbal material medica and presents the historical development of the Chinese material medica, the theories and systems of traditional classification of Chinese material medica, the characteristics and general clinical applications of substances within these categories, the methods of collection and processing of Chinese medicinal substances, the forms in which they are administered, the effect of Australia’s multi-cultural/multi-racial context on CM herbal application.

Throughout the entire course, students are required to study approximately 450 Chinese medicinal substances. The depth of study for each herb will vary depending on the importance of the substance and its frequency of use. The characteristics and therapeutic applications of individual Chinese medicinal substances in each of the categories are identified, including their names and their appearance, their primary method of preparation, their characteristics (flavour, nature, and channel tropism), functions, combinations with other herbs, primary therapeutic applications, dosage range and any cautions or contraindications.

Students will also learn to identify and describe Chinese medicinal substances that are affected by Australian regulations and the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP). The importance of commitment to the appropriate reporting of adverse events and necessary referral will be emphasised. The desire to achieve excellence in the practice of Chinese herbal medicine and to contribute to improving both the quality of life of patients and the wellbeing of the community and the environment will be a key feature in the teaching and learning of this unit.

Students will be referred constantly and appropriately throughout the course to the TGA and CMBA guidelines on the use of herbs vis-à-vis the various regulatory instruments and the management and reporting of adverse events.

Learning outcomes Upon completion of this unit students should be able to:

  1. Describe the historical development, classification and properties of the Chinese material medica, and how Australia’s multi-cultural/multi-racial context may affect CM herbal application.
  2. Describe the primary methods by which Chinese medicinal substances are collected and processed/prepared (paozhi), and explain the aim and function of specific herb processing methods; Describe the various types of preparations of Chinese medicinal substances and evaluate the respective indications of decoction, infusion, powder, pill, syrups, plasters, and medicinal wines.
  3. Identify commonly used Chinese medicinal substances and name or write (in pinyin and/or Chinese characters) their scientific name and common English name (if applicable); Describe and explain their characteristics, functions and therapeutic applications in each category including properties and channel tropism, and how they contribute to improving the quality of life of patients and the wellbeing of the community and the environment
  4. State the dosage range and any cautions or contraindications of commonly used Chinese medicinal substances and describe any special preparation requirements of the substance; Explain the concept of toxicity, the compatibility and incompatibility of Chinese material medica.
  5. Explain the impact of regulations that establish restricted schedules of drugs and poisons, what impact these have on the use of toxic herbs and endangered species used in CM practice, and the importance of commitment to appropriate reporting of adverse events and necessary referral to other medical practitioners.
Unit requirement To successfully complete the unit, students must: attend 80% of all the lectures and tutorial classes; attempt all assessment tasks including summative and formative assessments and achieve at least 50% of the total marks; and achieve a mark of at least 40% in the final examination.
Assessment Assessment 1: Group Presentation (25%)

Assessment 2: Practical Test (25%)

Assessment 3: Final examination (50%)

* The prescribed and recommended readings are subject to annual review.

Bensky, D., Clavey, S., Gamble, A., &Stoger, E. (2004). Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica (3rd ed.). Seattle, Wash.: Eastland Press.

Recommended readings Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (2017). Guidelines for safe practice of Chinese herbs medicine.  Retrieved from (Accessed 30/01/2019)

Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (2018). Nomenclature compendium of commonly used Chinese herbal medicines. Retrieved from (Accessed 30/01/2019)

Therapeutic Goods Administration, Poisons Standard October 2018, 25 September 2018. Retrieved from (Accessed 30/01/2019)

TGA (2018). Australian regulatory guidelines for complementary medicines (ARGCM). Retrieved from (Accessed 30/01/2019)

TGA (2018). Reporting adverse events. Retrieved from (Accessed 30/01/2019)

Chang, H. & But, P. P. H., (1986). Pharmacology and applications of Chinese materialmedica (English ed.). Singapore; Philadelphia, PA, USA: World Scientific.

Sionneau, P. (1997). Dui yao: The art of combining Chinese medicinals (B. Côté Trans.). (1st ed.). Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Press.

Gao, Xue Min (2007): Chinese Materia Medica (2nd ed.). Beijing, China Chinese Medicine Press.

Wu, J. N. (2005). An illustrated Chinese materia medica. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from