Chinese Herbs


Chinese Herbal Medicine has a history dating back at least as far, and probably farther, than acupuncture. Traditional societies have always looked for medicine in the natural world that surrounded them. The substances used include mostly plant materials such as roots, leaves, flowers, or the whole plant. Other less used substances are minerals such as oyster shell or gypsum, and some are of animal origin, such as turtle shell or deer antler. The Chinese Materia Medica contains over 5,000 herbs. No endangered animals are used in any modern Chinese herb formulas that we carry in our practice.

One of the biggest differences between Western Herbalism and Chinese Herbalism is the use of formulas instead of single herbs. In Chinese Medicine, formulas can include anywhere from 5 to 20 herbs, each serving a different purpose in order to fine tune the formula to the patient’s specific imbalance. The process of treating disease in TCM involves identifying patterns and then creating a treatment plan based on the diagnosis. As an integral part of this process, the formulas are specific groupings of medicinal substances that serve as tools for instituting treatment. Once a patient’s imbalance is identified, a diagnosis is made and the strategy of treatment is created. It is rare for a person to fit a textbook pattern perfectly; usually, for example, a person has some deficiency and some excess, emphasizing one or the other. This is where the elegance of creating an herb formula becomes apparent. The majority of the herbs in a formula can be to address the main part of the diagnosed pattern of imbalance, and then have other herbs to deal with the more minor parts of the diagnosis. This way balance can be achieved by addressing the whole pattern, without an either/or approach.

Herbal formulas can be administered in many forms, including tablets, tinctures, powdered granules, and “loose” or “ raw” herb formulas. Raw herb formulas are actually dried herbs which are sliced or in pieces. They are measured out and then cooked together in water, strained and the resulting “ tea” is drunk. Since most people do not want to take the time to cook up the tea and don’t care for the strong taste of the tea, tablets, tinctures and granules are more popular. There are also formulas made in liquid glycerin for children. Additionally, there are various external applications of herb formulas that are very effective.

Since it is common for patients to be on some kind of pharmaceutical medicine, for safety, possible herb-drug interactions are checked before a patient takes an herbal formula.

A full Chinese Herbal pharmacy is maintained at the Hallowell office and custom formulas can be made specifically for you and your condition.

Chinese Herbs