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).
Research into the effectiveness of traditional Chinese herbal therapy is of poor quality and often tainted by bias. There are concerns over a number of potentially toxic Chinese herbs.
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