Lonicera and Forsythia

Lonicera (see Figure 1) and forsythia (see Figure 2) are the most commonly-used herbs that are classified among those that clear heat and clean toxin. The two herbs are frequently combined together in formulas, especially for formulas that call for light and fluffy medicinals that are said to float to the upper warmer and treat the surface. Reasons for the extensive use of these antitoxin herbs are:

  1. Their lack of toxicity. The use of lonicera and forsythia in normal doses (e.g., about 9-15 grams of each in decoction) is associated with no toxicity;
  2. Their gentleness on the digestive system. Lonicera is classified as having a sweet taste and no bitterness, a quality associated with benefits to the spleen/stomach system; forsythia is a bitter tasting herb that is, nonetheless, used in formulas for improving digestion, such as the well-known Baohe Wan; it only becomes potentially problematic for digestion at the higher dosage range; and
  3. Their inclusion in formulas that became famous for effectiveness in treating the early stage of heat syndromes (warm diseases; wenbing). One of the most popular anti-toxin formulas in China is Yin Qiao Jiedu Pian (literally: tablet based on lonicera and forsythia for clearing toxins; originally called Yin Qiao San; powder based on lonicera and forsythia), first recorded in a Chinese medical text more than 200 years ago. Treating a heat syndrome in the first stage, when it affects the upper body (mainly the respiratory system), can prevent a more serious disease from developing and the therapy has a good chance of effectiveness because the disease has not yet caused any damage to the internal organs.

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