About Chinese Herbs
CHINESE HERBS are very potent. They can be used in acute or chronic syndromes and should be prescribed by a qualified practitioner. Currently, Chinese Herbal Medicine has become acknowledged for its profound benefits in healing - supplementing and often replacing heavy use of pharmaceuticals for some individuals.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine consists of 6,000 individual substances derived from plant, animal, and mineral sources. The use of these substances can be traced back to 5,000 B.C. Since then, an incredibly rich and powerful system has medicine has been created. Generally, an herbal prescription consists of a combination of 6-12 herbs, ensuring effectiveness while minimizing side effects. The herbs are available in the form of granules, herbal teas, tablets, liquid extracts, capsules, lotions, creams, salves, or poultices.
What Is A Chinese Herbal Formula?
Individual substances are rarely prescribed alone in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Western Herbal Medicine tends to use one or two herbs to treat just a specific symptom. A Chinese Herbal formula has as many as 20 different herbs. The herbs are selected to work synergistically to treat the whole person. Combing these single herbs into a single prescription creates a carefully balanced recipe specifically tailored to individual health conditions. Each herb is chosen for its own specific functions. In addition, herbs can enhance the strengths and reduce the side effects of each other. The combination of substances in a formula creates a new therapeutic agent that can treat much more effectively and completely than a single substance.
In Chinese medicine, due to our diagnostic system, we are able to assess a person's whole constitution (the health of their whole body) and treat the root (or cause) of a health concern along with a branch (or the symptoms) of a health concern. It is in this way that we are able to treat a person's whole body and mind, rather than just a symptom. In this way we diagnose and treat patterns not diseases.
Safety of Chinese Herbs
One of the most appealing qualities of Chinese Herbal Medicine is the low risk of adverse reaction or side effects. The herb formula is balanced, and therefore has minimal side effects.
The most commonly reported adverse reaction is minor gastrointestinal upset. Modifying the herbal formula or adding herbs to strengthen the digestive system can remedy this. If you notice any side effects, please stop taking your herbs and consult me right away.
Selection of Quality Herbs
My clinic uses herbs of the highest potency, quality, and safety; only herbs from manufacturers that are certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of the Australian government as having Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) - a hygiene guideline even more strict than in the United States. My clinic does not use endangered species (plant or animal), and promotes wildlife conservation through the use of surrogate natural substances.
What To Expect
Primarily I use Granule herbs in my Clinic. These herbs have been precooked (to the traditional standards and practices), dried and ground into fine powders - "Granules". These Granules can be taken dissolved in a small glass of warm water or simply put on the tongue and washed down. They are known for their strength and ease of use.
Upon request I can provide raw herbs. These are decocted by the patients into a "tea" which is then drunk in certain portions and amounts according to their condition. This is the traditional manner of using Chinese herbs and, while quite effective, is more difficult to use; they can taste disagreeable, take time to cook every few days and are difficult to use if traveling. They are, however, very beneficial the 1st week or two of herbal use.
For some cases, I also provide herbal pattens or pills. While easier to take, they do not provide the strength of granules or raw herbal teas. They are effective in some acute conditions such as colds and flus and are easy to keep around the house for immediate use.
Cooking Instructions for Raw Herbs
- Use a nonmetallic pot: If you do not have a nonmetallic pot, stainless steel is ok, however, it interacts with some herbs. We recommend Corning ware or a clay pot designed for cooking herbal formulas.
- Cover the herbs with purified water and soak for 30 minutes (the longer the better).
- Bring herbs to a RAPID boil, reduce heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes (or as specified). Occasionally there will be some herbs that need to be cooked longer or added near the end.
- Pour off the liquid and save. Repeat step 3, using the same herbs. You do not need to presoak the herbs.
- Pour off the liquid and combine the liquids from the first and second batches.
- Generally you take one dose (usually one cup) in the morning and one in the evening as directed (with meals unless told otherwise). Always drink herbal tea formulas WARM or at room temperature. Never heat with a microwave.
- The taste of the herbs creates an immediate reaction in the body and is an important part of taking the formulas. However, if the taste is unbearable and it is difficult to swallow, try drinking it with a straw and keep the straw toward the back of your tongue.
- If you have any discomfort or reactions that weren't explained to you ahead of time, stop taking the formula and call us.
- If you have never taken herbs before and especially if you have food sensitivities it is a good idea to take a small sip and wait several hours to make sure you are not allergic to any of the herbs.
As always, if you ever get symptoms that seem like an emergency, call 911.
- For Colds and Flus: simmer the formula for 20 minutes and drink warm. Cover up with blankets after drinking the formula. If you start sweating that is the body pushing the cold out. However, if the sweating is profuse or doesn't stop within a few minutes, discontinue the formula and contact me.
- For formulas to treat sleep disorders: simmer the formula for 45 minutes. Drink at room temperature or slightly cool in the evening and then again 1 hour before bed.