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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 7279361, 10 pages
Review Article

Synergism of Chinese Herbal Medicine: Illustrated by Danshen Compound

Department of Clinical Research, Tasly Pharmaceuticals Inc., 9400 Key West Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850, USA

Received 19 August 2015; Revised 5 January 2016; Accepted 16 February 2016

Academic Editor: Avni Sali

Copyright © 2016 Xuefeng Su et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The primary therapeutic effects of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) are based on the properties of each herb and the strategic combination of herbs in formulae. The herbal formulae are constructed according to Chinese medicine theory: the “Traditional Principles for Constructing Chinese Herbal Medicinal Formulae” and the “Principles of Combining Medicinal Substances.” These principles of formulation detail how and why multiple medicinal herbs with different properties are combined together into a single formula. However, the concept of herbal synergism in CHM still remains a mystery due to lack of scientific data and modern assessment methods. The Compound Danshen Formula (CDF) is a validated formula that has been used to treat a variety of diseases for hundreds of years in China and other countries. The CDF will be employed to illustrate the theory and principle of Chinese herbal medicine formulation. The aim of this review is to describe how Chinese herbal medicinal formulae are constructed according to Chinese medicine theory and to illustrate with scientific evidence how Chinese herbs work synergistically within a formula, thereby supporting Chinese medicine theory and practice.