Herbal medicine is an integral part Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with well over 10,000 individual herbs classified. Herbs are primarily used to correct bodily imbalances and return it to a state of good health. They work by directing and moving the Qi and Blood of the various organ systems. Common conditions treated using herbs are dermatological, digestive and reproductive problems.
The majority of the herbs that we use are plant derived, with a small amount from non-endangered animal products. Different parts of the plants are used, including the root, stem, branches and leaves. Although it is more common to use a number of herbs in a formula, single herbs may also be utilised. The reasoning for using a combination of herbal ingredients is because certain herbs have the function of enhancing or counter-acting another herbs properties. This is why some herbs which may be considered toxic, can be used safely within a properly prescribed.
Herbs are traditionally boiled and reduced into a thick decoction, which is then consumed as a tea. Herbs can also be prepared into creams, lotions, bandages and washes, depending on the needs of the patient. Herbal formulas also come in concentrated granule form and alcoholic tinctures, which are easier and more convenient to consume. Standard herbal formulas may also come in patent pill form, which are taken orally.
Herbal granules have many benefits over conventional raw herbs. Traditionally, herbal medicines were grown in the wild, free form pesticides and contamination by heavy metals and other contaminants. Industrialisation of agriculture has meant that the quality of many raw herbal medicines vary. The herbs that we use in our clinic are analysed for toxicity levels, and only the highest quality herbs are then processed and used for medicinal purposes. Additionally, concentrated granules are often more potent as the active ingredients are concentrated during the extraction process. While raw decoctions still have a place in the modern herbal dispensary, the benefits and convenience of granulated herbs are proving a popular option with many of our patients.
You may have noticed some companies selling Chinese herbal formulas at the supermarket or local chemist. While specific diseases may present with a core set of distinguishable signs and symptoms, the required treatment may vary from patient to patient, depending on the actual presentation of that particular disease. Chinese medicine cannot be practiced with a one-size-fits all approach. Each formula that we prescribe is tailored to each specific individual, and is often adjusted and modified until the desired health outcome is achieved.