The five flavours of Chinese medicinal herbs refer to the five different tastes of the tongue: pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
Pungent is believed to disperse and promote circulation of qi and blood.
Sweet nourishes, harmonises and hydrates the body, and is usually prescribed for deficiency and pain syndromes, cough due to lung heat, and imbalance between the spleen and stomach.
Sour is a flavour that absorbs, consolidates, and counteracts severe conditions such as excess perspiration, chronic coughing, chronic diarrhoea and other chronic illnesses.
Bitter works to dry or resolve dampness and purge internal balance blockages.
Salty is a flavour that softens masses and promotes defecation, therefore used for conditions such as constipation.