Chinese Herbs FAQ

Why do people take Chinese Herbal Medicine?

People take Chinese herbs to treat all kinds of medical conditions, to relieve pain, improve digestion, boost their immune system, have healthier skin, better mood, sleep, and energy. The medicinals used in this system have a long history of use for both the treatment of disease and promotion of health and longevity.

Is it safe for me to take Chinese Herbs?

If recommended to you by an experienced, licensed herbalist Yes! These factors insure safety when it comes to taking herbs:

  1. Choose a licensed acupuncturist with extensive herbal training and national certification.
  2. Make sure they have taken a thorough health history complete with office visit and physical exam.
  3. Notify your practioner of any and all medical conditions, medications, and allergies that apply to you.
  4. Take herbs only as directed, do not share herbs with someone else, and do not self-diagnose or self-treat with herbs.
  5. Let your practitioner know immediately if you have new symptoms or any adverse reaction.

How often and how long do I have to take herbs?

Herbs were traditionally taken three times per day. Nowadays, patients often take two doses per day instead. Herbs can be taken in powdered granule form mixed into hot water to make a "tea", or in pre-prepared pills. Because there are so many active compounds in the herbs, the number of pills you have to take per day is much higher than with pharmaceuticals. Herbs are "bulkier". A typical course for acute problems is 10 days. Other formulas for chronic conditions can be taken for several weeks or a few months.

What's in the herbal supplements?

Concentrates from the leaves, roots, tubers, twigs, and fruits of certain plants. A handful of animal and mineral substances are used as well. The granules I use in my custom herbal formulas are produced by Legendary Herb Company. The pre-prepared herb capsules I dispense are from Classical Pearls. The tinctures for pediatric patients and some acute conditions are from Kan Herbals. All of these products are tested for authenticity of ingredients and the presence of contaminants.

What if I miss a dose or stop taking them?

Due to the design of Chinese herbal formulas, Chinese Medicine tends to have a gradual, cumulative, and lasting effect on the body. Rebound effects, dependency, and side-effects are rare. If you miss a dose, no big deal, just take them when you remember. You are not likely to suffer any ill effects if you suddenly stop taking herbs as is sometimes the case with western drugs.

How is Chinese Herbal Medicine different from pharmaceuticals?

In the drugs your doctor prescribes, there is usually one active ingredient, sometimes two or three. Not so with Chinese Medicinals. Several herbs (leaves, roots, twigs, and fruit of various plants) are combined together. Within each individual herb there may be a dozen naturally occuring pharmacologically active chemicals. A medicinal or "formula" as Chinese doctors call them, can therefore have hundreds of active compounds, much like the food you eat has many different nutrients combined together. So, Chinese herbs are not prescribed to treat or supress a single symptom, but rather to increase the body's own normal function and restore the body to balance.

What is a Chinese Medicine "Formula"?

Chinese herbs are rarely taken singly, rather combined into complex formaulations of 3 to 20 herbs. Some have synergystic effects, some have contrary effects. 1 to 3 herbs may be the chief herbs that determine the main function of the formula. 2 or more herbs may be assistant herbs to provide secondary functions, 1 or more herbs are the guide or messensger herbs that help all the herbs to act on a particular region of the body. Finally, a few herbs may be added as balancing, digestion-aiding herbs (licorice, ginger, dates).