Herbal Tonics have been used for thousands of Years in East Asian Medicine and are as relevant for their use today as they were all those years ago. Of particular interest are those Herbs or Herbal tonics that can either help the body’s immune system function better and thus help ward off disease or can be used to treat post-viral fatigue to increase vitality!

A tonic is something – a food, an herb, a thought -that improves your well being. It tones – hence the name,  A tonic can be defined as a substance that can help the body restore its balance or equilibrium and can affect every system of the human body. In European culture, tonics improve digestion by stimulating the liver, stomach, and pancreas to produce more digestive enzymes. Some famous examples are Rosso Antico or Campari, taken as aperitifs before or in between meals. In East Asia, they are used extensively to promote longevity,  reduce adrenal fatigue, and aid immunity.

In Asian Herbal Medicine, there are three classes of Herbs- Inferior: which should only be taken for a short period, General: That can be taken some of the time. And Superior: that can be taken all of the time.  Inferior herbs may be helpful for a particular disease. Still, they may have long term side effects, whereas Superior Herbs have no side effects and are considered very nutrient in their composition. Tonic herbs can further be classified as Yang – warming and drying or energising like Red Ginseng or Yin –  cooling, moistening, and nourishing .-Like licorice Root.  Naturally, some herbs contain both Yin and Yang Qualities, like Ashwagandha ( Withania Sominfera ).


Let’s look at a Herbal formula called “Astragalus 8 ”   http://www.fusionhealth.com.au. This formula which contains 8 Herbs, has been used for centuries to strengthen the immune function, assist recovery during convalescence,e and promote good health. It helps manage chronic fatigue syndrome, recurring colds, flu, sore throats, and other upper respiratory infections. It works to improve stress resistance, increase stamina, and enhance vitality.

Astragalus 8 formula is a classic example of a formula based on Chinese Therapy called Fu Zheng Pei Ben. In Chinese Medicine terms, Fu Zheng means to rectify and support all body systems’ health energy ( vital force). In contrast, Pei Ben means to strengthen the resistance mechanisms of the body, especially those underpinning a healthy immune system, by understanding a little about each herb in the formula will give clues as to how it works.  It contains the following Herbs –

  • Astragalus: Ranking as one of the Superior Chinese tonics for thousands of years, this herb enhances the functioning of the immune system, increases white blood cell counts, and aids digestion. It recently has gained fame as a longevity herb as it has been found to have a protective effect on DNA strands within cells.
  • Codonodopsis: is believed to have similar actions to Ginseng but milder. Thus it can be used in formulas and be used over a long period. It is less stimulating and gently restorative to be very suitable for those who have chronic fatigue. It has mild immune-stimulating properties but is gentle enough to be used by children and nursing mothers alike who wish to have a gentle remedy.
  • Reishi: The Supreme Tonic, whose use was initially reserved for Emporers of China, is revered for its effects on calming the spirit or balancing effect on the nervous system. It is restorative to liver function, reduces blood pressure if high, and improves cardiac output. It is known as an immune modulator thus can be used in those who have auto-immune disorders, and those who have cancer or require immune support / It has anti-allergy properties.
  • Siberian Ginseng:  Used by Russian Cosmonauts to increase strength and stamina, this herb has been widely studied for its effects as a – immune modulator, adrenal gland restorative, and Anabolic action on cellular tissue.
  • Atractylodes:  This herb is mainly used in formulas to strengthen digestion and improve the absorption of nutrients. Although it has mild immunostimulating properties and effects on adrenal glands, it is used mainly to support other herbs. In its support with different formulas, it assists in treating conditions such as Anemia, Arthritis, immunity deficiency, and signs of cold and dampness in the body.
  • Ligustrum: This is considered to be an anti-aging rejuvenating herb, and it has immune-enhancing properties and positive effects on the hormones of the adrenal glands.
  • Schizandra: This herb is said to purify the blood, sharpen the mind, improve memory, rejuvenate the kidney energy ( especially sexual function) and can help the skin to become radiantly beautiful.
  • LIcorice: is an excellent tonic and is used in many herbal formulas to balance or harmonise the formula’s effect. Its main claim to fame is that it acts as a mild anti-inflammatory and increases the effect of the adrenal hormones. It is seen as an Adrenal gland restorative. It is an antispasmodic, mild expectorant, and detoxifier of organs.


In summary, a great formula you can use at the beginning of winter to help prevent cold and flu and for recovery after contracting cold and flu.

TIP: Like all other tonics, this formula is not to be used during a cold or flu as it is thought that tonics will actually ” tonify” or Magnify the disease process. If one has a cold or flu, there are better formulas to use, such as Fusion Health Cold and flu formula during the episode, and for immediate use, the Fusion ” Allergy formula ” is better used. ( Allergy formula is based on a 2000 year  formula  called Minor Bupleurum  formula used for immediate  post-viral use.)  .To clarify,  after the worst of the cold/flu, the allergy formula would be used – then, as one feels better, the Astra 8 can be used to consolidate recovery.

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in Fusion Health but use their products as an example of great formulations based on the classical use of Tonics and other medicines in the Chinese pharmacopeia.  I use their products and prescribe them to my clients as the Australian Market’s quality is second to none. They are readily available in Health Food Stores under the Fusion Health Brand or in Pharmacies under the Oriental Botanicals brand.

Would you like to find out what sort of tonics you may need for your constitution, then visit Jing Herbs for an optimal health Analysis? This company knows all about tonic herbs and has a free online analysis questionnaire –  look at www.jingherbsanalyis.com.     

Once completed, you may wish to book in for a Tonic consultation with me with a free pulse diagnosis. Go to the contact/appointment page of my website and book a 15-minute free consultation.

For more information contact www.adelaidenaturopath.net.au