What Is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
Beyond understanding acupuncture, the public is quite curious about the Chinese herbal aspect of Oriental medicine. Chinese herbal medicine consists mainly of vegetable sources, leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, roots, tubers, rhizomes, and bark. In addition, there are animal and mineral products used on occasion when necessary.
Most acupuncturists use herbal medicine in raw, powder, and pill form. Raw herbs take some cooking and may taste strong or undesirable. There is a saying in Chinese, “bitter mouth, good medicine.” Herbal pills may be prescribed instead of raw herbs for less severe conditions. Likewise, herbal medicines are rapidly increasing in economic importance, with the U.S. claiming over $60 million in world market herbal sales, including raw materials.
In China, herbal medicine has traditionally been the most fundamental method of treatment. Medicinal herbal formulas are dispensed to each patient based upon the patient’s individual constitution and current medical condition. Unlike western herbs, Chinese herbs are used in very specific combinations, as opposed to singular herbs. An herbal formula may be comprised of as many as 15 herbs, all having specific purposes within the formula.