CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE is integral to Chinese medicine. There are thousands of herbs in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. These may be roots, stems, flowers, leaves and bark, together with some non-plant ingredients. Each herb in a formula is carefully chosen based on its effects according to ancient and modern Chinese texts. Chinese herbal medicine may be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies, but herbal formulas are most often used to enhance and continue the positive effects of acupuncture between treatments. Some formulas on which individual prescriptions are based date back thousands of years. The accumulated experience with these formulas has helped to clarify how the herbs work and when to use them.
No matter the form of administration, herbal formulas are carefully balanced recipes of several different herbs that are specifically tailored for each person’s entire health condition or constitution. 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 herbs in a formula creates a new therapeutic agent that can treat much more effectively and completely than that of a single herb or western drug.
At Meridian Therapeutics, we save our patients the trouble of preparing liquid decoctions strained from boiling raw herbs together, by providing a combination of effective, yet easy-to-use pills, liquid extracts, and granules. Pills come from a decoction of bulk herbs that is boiled, leaving a powder that is rolled (usually with honey) into easy-to-store pills. Liquid extracts are made by combining the raw bulk herbs, boiling them to extract the active ingredients and suspending them in alcohol. Extracts are one of the most potent and most effective forms of herbal medicine. Granules are made by taking the powder from the herbal formula preparation with the water boiled away and mixing that in starch to form granules. Granules can be taken mixed with water or in a capsule.
The form that your herbal formula comes in will depend on your diagnosis and the severity of your symptoms. For acute conditions, either liquid extracts or granules will be prescribed because it is faster and easier for your body to absorb these forms. For long term chronic conditions, prescriptions in pill form are given because of their lower cost and milder action.