Eastern Herbal Medicine

Eastern herbal medicine is the practice of combining individual herbs into customized formulas to promote health and well-being. The Chinese pharmacopoeia lists over 6,000 different medicinal substances in terms of their properties and the disharmonies with which they are helpful, but only about 400 are in common use. Although a single herb is sometimes used, a combination of herbs, typically five to fifteen, is more common. The unique characteristic of Chinese herbal medicine is the degree to which formulation is done, in order to meet the needs of your symptoms. The variety in temperature and taste give herbs – the properties that influence the yin and yang energy patterns of the body. For example, sour, bitter and salty tastes are related to yin, whereas acrid and sweet ones are attributed to yang. There are herbs that will warm, herbs that will cool, herbs that will tonify, and herbs that will bring you out of stagnation. It is also important to understand that herbs do not possess one quality. Western herbal medicine is limited precisely because it draws on herbs in isolation or in small combinations with other herbs serving the same function. Eastern herbal medicine, in contrast, reflects the reality that herbs always embody a combination of properties and temperatures, and that when used properly, they may reach one to as many as with other twelve organ systems.

Eastern herbal formulasmay be prepared and taken in a number of ways. Pre-made formulas are available in terms of pills, tablets, capsules, powders, alcohol-extracts and water-extracts. The traditional method of preparing herbal medicine is as a decoction, a concentrated form of tea. A modern way ofadministering herbal formulas is through granulated herbs, which are highly concentrated powdered extracts, made from traditional decoctions and then customized for each patient.

Practitioners can then mix these powders together for each patient into a custom formula.