Chinese herbology (simplified Chinese: 中药学; traditional Chinese: 中藥學; pinyin: zhōngyào xué) is the theory of traditional Chinese herbal therapy, which accounts for the majority of treatments in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). A Nature editorial described TCM as “fraught with pseudoscience“, and said that the most obvious reason why it has not delivered many cures is that the majority of its treatments have no logicalmechanism of action.
The term herbology is misleading in the sense that, while plant elements are by far the most commonly used substances, animal, human, and mineral products are also utilized. In the Neijing they are referred to as 毒藥 [duyao] which means toxin, poison or medicine. Unschuld points out that this is similar etymology to the Greek pharmakon and so he uses the term ‘pharmaceutic’. Thus, the term “medicinal” (instead of herb) is usually preferred as a translation for 药 (pinyin: yào).