Chinese Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine is one of several treatment therapies used in traditional Chinese medicine.  Herbal medicine is not unique to Chinese medicine; it is a form of therapy found in various cultures and medical systems throughout the world.  The history of Chinese herbal medicine dates back more than 2500 years with a pharmacopoeia containing hundreds of medicinal plant, animal, and mineral substances.   The functions of these substances have been discovered through empirical evidence over thousands of years and now many of these substances are being researched by the NIH to further clarify their functions.

Generally, Chinese herbal formulas consist of several herbs, designed to work together to achieve a particular result.  Each medicinal herb is carefully chosen and dosed to create a balanced formula.  Some herbs may have special preparation or pao zhi to further tailor the formula.  Rarely are single herb formulas prescribed.

Herbal formulas can be taken in a variety of forms.  Classically, the raw herbs are cooked in water and the liquid portion is drunk as a tea.  This can be done by the patient at home or prepared by the herbal pharmacy.  Herbs can also be prescribed in granule form, powder, capsule, pill, or tincture.  Some herbal formulas are designed for topical application.  The patient’s needs and preference are taken into consideration when choosing the method of herbal administration.