Chinese Herbal



The origin of Chinese herbal medicine is sometimes attributed to the legendary Shen Nong, who is credited with introducing agriculture to the Chinese people around 3000 BC. The first known text on Chinese herbal medicine is Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Farmer's Materia Medica Classic), which is dated around 300 BC and lays the foundations for the study of Chinese herbs by recording, describing and classifying 365 medicines. Successive generations built on and expanded that work, and today the Chinese pharmacopoeia includes over 6000 different medicinal substances along with their properties and effects. Of these, about 600 different herbs are in common use today. Throughout its recorded history Chinese herbal medicine has been the subject of extensive research into all aspects of its use, and this continues today. In Chinese hospitals, Chinese herbal medicine is regularly used alongside Western medicine.  

What are herbs?

Traditionally Chinese herbal medicine uses substances derived from plant, mineral, and animal products. The vast majority of herbs is plant-derived and can include leaves, stems and roots. Examples of "herbs" of mineral or animal origin include oyster shells and deer antlers.

What can Chinese Herbal Medicine Treat?

Chinese herbal medicine is primarily aimed at redressing internal imbalances and encouraging the body's self-healing abilities, rather than treating the symptoms alone. It can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:  

Menstrual and gynecological problems

High cholesterol levels  

High blood pressure  

Digestive disorders  

Chronic fatigue




As part of the same system of medicine, Chinese herbal medicine is a natural complement to acupuncture treatment. It can be used either as an alternative to Western medicine or to support Western treatment.


Since the basic principle of Chinese herbal medicine is to restore and maintain the balance of the entire organism, diagnosis has to account for the condition of the whole person rather than just rely on information about specific individual symptoms. The first step in assessing your overall condition involves taking your "case". The practitioner will ask you questions relating not only to your present symptoms and any previous or current treatment, but also about your medical history, your diet, appetite, sleep patterns, stress and emotional state. Both what is said and how it is said are important in developing a proper understanding of the whole person. The herbalist will then examine your tongue and take your pulse. Pulse taking is very different from the taking of the arterial pulse by a Western doctor. Pulses are felt in both wrists, and their quality, rhythm and strength are all significant as they help assess the flow of energy within your body. Tongue examination is visual and is also an important diagnostic tool. The structure, color and coating of different areas of your tongue provide an in-depth insight into your physical health.

Different Types of Prescriptions

In contrast with other forms of herbal medicine that use either individual herbs, or combinations of very small numbers of herbs performing similar functions, Chinese herbal medicine makes extensive use of complex formulas. These may contain between four and twenty different herbs, selected so their individual properties balance each other to maximize the overall efficacy of the prescription. A number of pre-prepared formula are available in pill form. These products are very convenient, as they are ready to use, but limit the practitioner's ability to adjust the formula to the needs of individual patients. Individually prescribed formula may come in one of three forms. The traditional method of preparing herbal formula is by decoction. The prescription is provided to you as a mixture of the required herbs in dried form, which are then boiled in water at home to prepare the decoction. Another way of providing tailored prescriptions is as highly concentrated powdered extracts prepared to the herbalist's specifications. You place the powder in hot water to recreate the decoction. The third alternative is to package the powdered extracts in capsule form.

Insurance Matters

Chinese Herbal Medicine health-care benefits may be available to you.  Your Health Insurance,  Workers Compensation, Automobile or Personal Injury insurance company may cover Chinese Herbal Medicine treatments or allow for a specific discount.  Please call us to get specific information regarding your insurance company's benefits at this office.


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