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Chinese Herbal Therapyforeverable-17

Chinese herbs have been used to treat illness for centuries. Approximately 13,000 herbal products are used in China today, and more than 100,000 recipes have been recorded in ancient literature. The majority of the herbal products currently in use contain plant extracts, however some mineral and animal components are also included.


Most Chinese herbs are taken as a formula of many different ingredients rather than individually. The reasoning behind this is that through centuries of use, herbalists have found that the medicinals work better when combined. The combination of specific herbs is based the herbs effect on the body, as well as how the herbs effect each other; some herbs are added to boost the overall effectiveness of a formula, whereas some herbs are added to decrease side-effects of other herbs.

The quantity and part of the herb used is given in a specific recipe or determined by the herbalist. Chinese herbal formulas are tailored to the patient’s individual needs. Methods for taking Chinese herbs.


Decoction is the most traditional method for taking Chinese herbs. The herbs used are relatively unprocessed, other than having been dried. Several herbs (usually anywhere from 4 to 18) are combined together in water, and then boiled in order to extract the medicine from the herbs. The patient will then drink the decoction 2 to 3 times daily.


Like a decoction, a tincture also uses a combination of several dried herbs. However, instead of boiling the in water, the herbs are soaked in alcohol for weeks to extract the medicinal properties. Traditionally rice wine was used for making tinctures, but other types of alcohol, such as white wine or vodka can be used. The alcohol adds another medicinal component to the formula, providing a warming aspect and directing the medicine into the correct area of the body.

Patent Formulas

Patent formulas are most typically taken in pill form. They are not patented in the traditional sense of the word, but rather are standardized formulas that typically contain the same proportion of ingredients no matter where they are manufactured. Patent formulas are easy and convenient to take and therefore tend to be prescribed when to patients with chronic conditions that require long-term herbal treatment.


Granules are similar to patent formulas, but instead of pill form, they are herbal extracts that have been condensed into powders. These powders are taken by dissolving them in warm water and drinking them, which makes them ideal for patients who dislike taking pills.