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FOUR COMPOSITIONS OF THE PRESCRIPTION

1) Principal (chief) Herb : main herb in the prescription, which is directed against and has the most effect on the causes or the main symptons. 
2) Adjuvant Herb : either aides the principal herb in treating symptoms or serves as the main ingredient directed against coexisting symptons. 
3) Assistant Herb : 3 different functions. 
- For treating the accompanying disease or syndromes. 
- To counter the potent side effects or toxicity of the principal and adjuvant herb.
- To produce a supplementary effect in the treatment and to be used in complex disorders.
4) Guide Herb :
- For leading the effects of other drugs to the affected sites.
- To balance the action of other herbs in the prescription.
EXAMPLE :
Four Gentleman Decoction (Si ju zi tang)
Indication : spleen and stomach qi deficiency, pale face, low voice, fatigue, poor appetitie, diarrhea, pale tongue, feeble and weak pulse.
Action : to tonify qi and strengthening the spleen
Radix Ginseng (Ren shen) 10g
Rhizoma Atractylodis macrocephalae (Bai Shu) 9g
Poria (Fu ling) 9g
Radix Glycyrrhizae Preparata (Gan cao), Licorice 6g
Herbs and Action :
1. Principal : Ginseng, to tonify the qi of the spleen and stomach strengthen the spleen.
2. Adjuvant : Bai zhu, to eliminate dampness.
3. Assistant : Poria, strenghten spleen and stop diarrhea.
4. Guide : Licorice, to harmonise action of the other herbs.