What Is Chinese Herbology?

After acupuncture, herbal formulations are the most commonly used therapy in Eastern Medicine.   The earliest known text on Chinese herbs, Written around 300 B.C., listed 250 substances.    Today, more than 5,000 substances are described in the Chinese Herbal Materia Medica.  These herbs are categorized according to properties that describe their function.

Formulas fall into 3 principal categories and have specific actions:

Tonic formulas help restore eroded body resources

Regulating formulas decongest and restore balance to organ systems

Purging formulas eliminate pathogens such as a virus or bacteria

Many of the herbs used in Chinese medicine are familiar in the United States.  Some English names you may recognize are ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, patchouli, mint, ginseng, sandalwood, fennel, astragalus, black cohosh, peony root, kudzu, and aloe.

How Are Chinese Herbs Used?

Both the ailment and the underlying constitution of the individual are taken into account when choosing a formula.  Chinese herbs are usually combined to enhance their individual properties and actions.  Symptoms and signs of the individual are matched with therapeutic effects of different herbs.

How are herbs taken?

Traditionally, patients would cook a bag of raw dried herb for a couple of hours.  This is still done, however, most patients find this too time consuming.   Today, liquid extracts, tablets, capsules and powders more convenient and they are taken between meals

Are Chinese Herbs Safe?

When prescribed correctly, they are safe, effective and cause very few side effects.  Although they are natural, many herbs cause profound changes in the body.  As with western medication, an inappropriate formula can make your condition worse.   For this reason, it is recommended that Chinese herbs be prescribed by a trained Acupuncturist or Chinese Herbalist

Side effects, though rare, occur infrequently.  The most common problem may be digestive difficulties, which can generally be eliminated by varying the time of ingestion, adjusting the dosage or altering the formulation.