Chinese Herbal Medecine
Herbal medicine is the principal therapeutic method used in Chinese medicine. Its development has been a historical process that has been going on and flourishing for more than four thousand years.
Chinese herbal theory, which forms the theoretical basis of Chinese medicine, defines the character and function of each herb, including property, flavour, functional tendency, meridian channel and toxicity. It has developed into an extremely rich medical system, although its basic principles have remained simple. In this herbal tradition, the roots, fruits, bark, leaves, flowers, seeds and stems of specific botanical species are all used to address wide-ranging health problems.
Although acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be used independently, in practice they are frequently integrated. Practically speaking, Chinese herbs may be offered in several different forms. Detailed below are some of the most common ways in which Chinese herbs are administered today.
1) Decoction. Raw herbs are placed in water and boiled for 5-120 minutes, depending on the medicinal substance intended for extraction. The resulting “tea” is poured off and consumed over a prescribed period of time. This is the most potent form of herbal preparation.
2) Pills/Capsules. Ground raw or prepared herbs are pressed into tablets and taken throughout the day. This form of administration can change how certain herbs are absorbed, but is used for those who need a more palatable or convenient option.
3) Granules. A herbal decoction is prepared, sprayed onto a plant starch, and freeze dried. This is then dissolved in hot water and taken as a tea, or encapsulated as pills. This is a versatile option with good absorption and potency.
4) Syrups. This is a herbal decoction mixed with granulated sugar or honey, and is sometimes used for children or people with a chronic cough or sore throat.
5) Tinctures. This is a preparation of herbs in alcohol, taken throughout the day when decoctions are not available.
6) Liniments. These are herbal preparations in alcohol for topical use. Frequently used for traumatic injury, many formulas have been passed down through the martial arts traditions.
“Of those who make their meals from simple herbs and vegetables, their repasts are as pure as stainless gems…
Ultimately the will is made clear by simplicity,
And integrity lost by opulence.”
Hung Ying-ming, 16th Century AD.