Traditional Chinese Herbs
The Chinese practice of using herbs to cure illness is believed to date back some 5000 years. Over a long period of time, the Chinese accumulated enormous experience and developed a unique pharmaceutical system, which has proven to be the best natural therapy for curing all kinds of illnesses.
Chinese “herbs” include not just plants, but also parts of animals and minerals. They are divided into five energy categories: Cold, Cool, Hot, Warm, and Neutral. They have five taste qualities: sour/astringent, sweet, bitter, salty, and pungent/acrid. These tastes and energetic properties describe the therapeutic effects of the herbs. Herbs can be used individually, but they are often used in combination, which is called a formula.
How are Chinese herbs traditionally used?
Raw herbs.The traditional way to take Chinese herbs is to drink a tea concocted from raw herbs, according to the prescription, which is tailored to the patient’s individual pattern of disharmony. Typically, they are provided in a bag that contains raw, dried roots, leaves and seeds that look like twigs. At home, the patient cooks this mixture according to the practitioner’s instructions and then drains off the resulting brew for drinking.
Herb tincture. Sometimes a herb or a combination of herbs is soaked in water or alcohol, and sealed for a certain period of time to extract their effective constituents. This kind of herb is called a tincture.
Patent herbs. Many of the classic formulas that have been developed over the centuries are considered so useful that they are manufactured in readily available patent form, such as herbal tablets, herbal honey balls, ointments, or patches and sprays.
Herb extract. The extracts of herb products have become widely used in th last ten years. Through a complex series of processing steps, the herbs are transformed into small granules that are easily measured and used.
Each herbal medicine prescription is a cocktail of many herbs tailored to the individual patient. Indeed, the key to success in Traditional Oriental Medicine is the treatment of each patient as an individual.