The beauty of Chinese Herbal Medicine is that when prescribed appropriately, there is little chance for side effects and yet, the therapeutic effects can be quite remarkable. Chinese herbal formulas have been used since the 3rd century B.C. As Chinese medical doctors documented their experience, much empirical data was collected. Today, much of that information still holds true and is used by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners today.

In TCM, we select a formula specific to the symptoms a patient is experiencing, but also to that patient’s constitution. Many times a tried and true formula can be prescribed, but other times, the TCM practitioner must modify or design a formula that is best for the patient.

Herbal formulas can be taken in a variety of ways. I will list a few of the most common ways here:

  • Raw herbs:
    these formulas consist of herbs that closely resemble the way they look in nature. So, if it is a root, it will look very much like a dried, root. If it is a berry, it will look like a berry. The herbal ingredients are then placed in water and boiled for a specific period of time. This is called a decoction. The liquid is drank and is many times much like a tea.
  • Powdered herbs:
    the herbal ingredients are ground up into a powdered form. The powder is then mixed with water, and again, drank like a tea.
  • Pills (teapills):
    the ingredients are ground and prepared in the form of a tiny pill. These are consumed just as any other pill with an emphasis on plenty of warm or room temperature water.
  • Externally:
    many conditions warrant application of herbs to the skin. There is a variety of ways this is done. Sometimes, raw herbs are decocted and then the liquid is applied to an affected area. Other times, powdered herbs are mixed with a small amount of water or vinegar to form a paste. Then the paste is applied to the affected area. There are also manufactured plasters and tinctures. The plasters are bandage like in nature. There is an herbal formula on the surface that is affixed to the skin; the herbs then penetrate the area in this way. Tinctures are in liquid form and are rubbed over the area.