Brief introduction of Chinese herbal medicine

Chinese herbal medicine has been successfully used for thousands of years to treat illnesses and alleviate discomfort caused by many different disorders. The first written herbal classic dated back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). Now thousands of natural plants are catalogued in Chinese Herbal Pharmacopeia. The vast majority of these are plant parts such as barks, roots, leaves, twigs, flowers or fruits.

Each herb has its own unique properties, ie. its Qi (energy), flavour, movement and the meridian to which it is associated. An herbal formula commonly consists of a combination of 8-16 different herbs prescribed by a Chinese Medical practitioner so that the optimal effect of the herbal medicine can be achieved. The number of herbs in the mixture, the amount of each herb and the dosage of the herbal mixture prescribed depend on the individuals, the nature of the patient’s condition and the Chinese Medicine diagnosis.

Different preparations of herbal medicine

Raw herbs

This is the traditional way of taking herbal medicine. The raw herbs are usually processed in various ways, such as cleaning, soaking, slicing, cooking and drying, etc. according to the methods that have been reported to be most appropriate to keep its medical function. A mixture of dried raw herbs is prescribed, prepared and given to a patient. The herbal mixture needs to be cooked to make an herbal decoction (herbal tea) by soaking, boiling and simmering the herbs. The herbal tea is usually taken two times a day.

Concentrated herbal powders/granules

Thanks to recent advanced technology GMP certified Pharmaceutical companies have started producing concentrated herbal powders/granules. Individual raw herbs are carefully selected, cleaned, boiled, extracted, separated, and concentrated; and then are made into granules or powders. This form of herbs provides a convenient and an effective option for those who live a busy life and have no time to cook the raw herbs or for those who travel during the treatments. The concentrated herbal powders/granules need to be dissolved in boiling water or boiled briefly in water to make an herbal tea. The herbal tea is usually taken two times a day.

Herbal capsules/tablets

Herbal capsules/tablets containing a mixture of granulated/powdered herbs are prepared by your Chinese Medicine doctor after the consultation. This form of herbs is suitable for those who find the herbal tea difficult to take. The herbal capsules/tablets are conveniently taken with warm water and are usually taken two times a day.

Safety of Chinese herbal medicine

All herbs used in these preparations in our clinic are sourced from nature usually in China by top suppliers in the UK. Laboratory tests of raw herbs, herbal powders/granules made in the U.S. and UK indicate that they are free of harmful bacteria, heavy metal and chemical contaminants. Negative interactions with Western drugs have not been noted for any of the common herbs when used in the normal dosage range. Occasionally, a few people experience allergic reaction to individual herbs, a problem that often cannot be predicted in advance since these are very rare individual responses. A more common reaction is a gastro-intestinal response, which might include constipation, diarrhea, nausea or bloating. Such reactions may occur if the individual has poor digestive functions, or if the herbal formula is not quite right for the conditions of the individual. Taking the herbs at a different time in relation to meals may be helpful in resolving some of the gastro-intestinal responses. If such responses persist after several days of taking the herbs, it may be necessary to change the herbal formulas.

General caution when taking herbal medicine

Be sure to inform your practitioner before you start taking your herbal medicine: 1). If you are on any medications, vitamins and dietary supplements; 2). If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

If you would like to know more about the treatment, please feel free to contact us.

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