Frequently Asked Questions About Chinese Herbal Medicine

What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Chinese Herbal Medicine in an ancient system of healing using plants, animal products and minerals to help restore health. Its theory, practice and herbal pharmacology has developed over several thousand years into a highly specific and systematic form of herbal medicine. Chinese Herbal medicine in one of the most well developed forms of herbal medicine in the world. Its popularity is growing and it is used extensively in treat a variety of health concerns from acute pain conditions to chronic internal medical conditions. In the United States, it is often used in conjunction with acupuncture.

What is an herbal prescription?

Rarely does Chinese herbal medicine use only one herb to restore health. Usually, the herbs are combined into formulas or prescriptions that are composed of several herbs. A typical formula may have an average of ten different herbs. The process of combining herbs allows the herbalist to customize a formula that is specific to your particular needs. This ability to tailor a formula to meet the needs of a particular client is one of the unique benefits of Chinese herbal medicine. Herbal prescriptions can come in various forms – pills, capsules, powders, tinctures and raw herbs that you boil at home. At Whole Health, we use capsules and powders that you add to water and drink. These methods of administrating herbs ensure convenience as well as effectiveness.

What are the herbs used in Chinese Medicine?

Chinese Medicine’s pharmacopoeia contains thousands of substances derived from plants, animals and minerals. A typical Chinese Herbal pharmacy in the United States will have about two to three hundred different herbs that are used to combine into formulas. The vast majority of the herbs are derived from the various parts of plants (roots, leaves, stem, bark, etc.). Some are derived from animals such as oyster shells and others are minerals found in nature such as talcum. Many of the herbs are common in a typical home kitchen. For instance, cinnamon, ginger, scallions, cloves, orange peels and licorice are all commonly used herbs in Chinese formulas.

Is it safe to take herbs with prescription drugs?

Yes, in certain instances, depending on the drugs and the herbs that are involved.While drug/herbal safety is addressed on a case by case basis, there are general principles that are followed. Certain classes of herbs are to be avoided with certain classes of drugs. For instance, herbs known as blood moving are to be avoided with blood thinning drugs such as coumadin, because their similar effects could create too strong of an effect. We at Whole Health are conservative when recommending herbs to patients taking prescription drugs. If there is any reason to suspect a negative drug/herb interaction, we will forego prescribing herbs and address the patient’s health condition in other ways, such as acupuncture, and dietary counseling.