Herbal Medicine

WHAT IS TRADITIONAL CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE?

herb bowl herbal medicineHerbal medicine is one of the most important and complex branches of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Herbal medicine in the TCM tradition has great antiquity, with therapeutic roots extending back about 3000 years. Thousands of years of real-life clinical trials have created the vast pharmacopoeia of plant, animal and mineral substances commonly used by TCM practitioners to naturally promote health today.

Herbal medicine has broad applications, and is very important in regulating and nourishing the body. While acupuncture influences the body’s innate self healing mechanisms to restore balance, herbal medicine adds the building blocks necessary for the body to carry out this balancing act successfully.


WHAT ARE THE HERBS LIKE? HOW DO I TAKE THEM?

The Chinese medical pharmacopoeia contains plant, mineral and some animal substances, all generally referred to as “herbs.” Most commonly, several different herbs are combined to create a “formula.” Some formulas are very basic and can be used, under the right circumstances, to treat many different people with different conditions. Other formulas are designed on an individual basis and are used to treat one specific person with one specific imbalance at one specific time.

Chinese herbal formulas are commonly taken in three different forms. Tea (also called decoction), powder (also called granules) and pill (also called tea pill) form. The tea form is created by boiling and straining raw herbs; the patient generally does this at home. Powder and pill forms come ready made and are comprised of dehydrated tea and ground raw herbs. The powder is mixed with hot water before drinking. Tea pills are very small, about the size of a small pearl, and easy to swallow.

In all forms, herbal formulas are generally taken two to four times per day. A variety of factors go into deciding which form of herbs to take, including pattern and stage of imbalance, and ease of use.

Herbal medicine is the most complex branch of TCM. If taken incorrectly, herbs can easily exacerbate imbalances and cause unwanted, and sometimes dangerous side effects. Many herbal products are available over-the-counter, but it is not advisable to take these products without consulting a certified and trained professional first.


DO HERBS HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECTS?


Usually not. When prescribed by a trained professional, herbal medicine is very safe and effective. Occasionally headache, upset stomach or changes in bowel patterns may occur. If these side effects do occur, contact your TCM practitioner.