Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine FAQ

History of Chinese Herbs

Use of herbs has been a principle part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for centuries. TCM is the world’s oldest form of medicine which has been continually practiced; it is believed to be at least 2,500 years old.


What Are Chinese Herbs

In China, herbs are used to treat a wide variety of diseases and health conditions. These herbs consist of roots, bark, flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves, and branches. They also include of non-plant materials.  Examples are insects, shells, and animal products. In TCM, there are over 3000 different herbs that can be used for medicinal purposes. However, in practice, about 300 to 500 of these herbs are used.


How Are Chinese Herbs Taken

There are a few different ways to take Chinese herbs: in raw form, cooked to make a decoction (also known as an herbal tea); in powdered form, taken, usually, with warm water; in pill form, pre-prepared; and in tincture form. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages and your practitioner can help you choose the form best suited for you.


Do Chinese Herbs Have Any Side Effects

For the most part, no. Most of the herbs used in the Chinese materia medica have very low toxicity levels, even when compared with commonly used over-the-counter Western drugs. Possible side effects are often gastrointestinal in nature (loose stools, abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating). Always consult your practitioner if you are concerned about possible side effects due to taking Chinese herbs. However, these effects can often be eliminated or reduced by modifying the herbs the patient is taking.


Can Pregnant Women Take Chinese Herbs

Herbs can be taken when you are pregnant but they should be prescribed by a licensed practitioner of acupuncture (an L.Ac.). Herbs have long been used in TCM to treat various symptoms common to pregnancy without harming the fetus. This is also true for women nursing their babies.


Can Children Take Chinese Herbs

Pediatrics is a specialty within TCM and Chinese herbs are often the treatment of choice for children (dosages used are reduced based on age). Herbs are used, for example, to treat colic, teething-related pain, earache, diarrhea/constipation, cough and fever, just to name a few.


How Long Does It Take To See Results With Chinese Herbs

In acute cases, results can be seen almost immediately. In chronic cases, some results should be seen within two weeks, even though long term usage of Chinese herbs is often required.