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Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine

The Chinese Materia Medica (a pharmacological reference book used by TCM practitioners) describes thousands of medicinal substances—primarily plants, but also some minerals and animal products. Different parts of plants, such as the leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds, are used.

chinese herbs

In TCM, herbs are often combined in formulas and given as teas, capsules, liquid extracts, granules, or powders. Chinese herbal medicine is a major aspect of traditional Chinese medicine, which focuses on restoring a balance of energy, body, and spirit to maintain health rather than treating a particular disease or medical condition.

In the system of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine every substance we ingest be it food or medicine affects us in one way or another, both physically and mentally. Oftentimes this can be too subtle to detect. However, when taken in concentrated doses and with enough regularity and sufficiency herbs can tangibly and remarkably affect us. Many Chinese herbal formulas work on our mental emotional capacity as well as our physical bodies.


Early human beings were hunter-gatherers whose survival depended on their knowledge of their environment. Direct experience taught them which plants were toxic, which ones imparted strength and sustained life, and which had special healing qualities.

These early discoveries were passed along until thousands of years and millions of human trials brought about the evolution of an incredibly sophisticated system of diagnosis and herbal medicine.

Ancient Chinese medical books in the Qing Dynasty, the Chinese herbal medicine on the table

Are Herbs Safe?

Chinese herbs are very safe when prescribed correctly by a properly trained practitioner. Over the centuries doctors have compiled detailed information about the pharmacopoiea and placed great emphasis on the protection of the patient. Adverse reactions can occur with any form of medicine. In the case of Chinese herbal medicine these are rare.

In my practice I only use herbal formulas that have been evaluated for quality and purity. These formulas go through rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe and of the highest quality. The companies I get my formulas from utilize “Seed to Shelf” Consciousness, promoted by Dr. David Eisenberg of Harvard University, which is an approach to tracking herbs and maintaining accountability from the origin as seeds, through planting, maturation, harvesting, processing, and testing, until the herbs reach the patient.

Can Chinese herbs be taken with other forms of medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine in general, including Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can be combined with or used alongside other medical therapies and disciplines, such as western medicine. Your Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner will not ask you to stop taking any Western Medicines that the doctor has prescribed for you.

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