Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries in Asia but first came to widespread attention in the United States in the 1970s. Chinese herbal medicine is not based on mainstream Western concepts of medical diagnosis and treatment. Rather, by using Chinese herbals (complex combinations of herbs, minerals, and plant extracts) Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners seek to prevent and treat imbalances, such as those caused by cancer and other diseases.
Chinese herbal supplements consist of a number of different herbs and mineral and animal extracts. These supplements can be taken in the form of teas, powders, pills, tinctures, or syrups. Typically two or more herbs are used to create a formula specific for the patient’s condition or conditions. Herbal formulas are made of a combination of herbs. Herbs in each formula have differing actions and effects on the body.
According the Chinese herbal medicine theory, herbs may decrease a condition’s side effects and/or increase the effectiveness of the formula. Other ingredients in the formula are often included to treat minor aspects of the problem, direct the formula to specific parts of the body, helping the other herbs work better. In China, more than 3,200 herbs and 300 mineral and animal extracts are used in more than 400 different formulas. Licensed practitioners are trained to prescribe tested and effective Chinese herbal products that specifically treat an individual’s pattern or condition.
Depending on a person’s condition, a treatment plan may include both, or either, acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapies. All herbs, liniments, and patches used should be made by reputable companies which are safe and very effective. Herbs should have been manufactured using what is called “good manufacturing practice” or (GMP) and be certified. Most formulas can be customized to meet each patient’s needs.