Chinese Herbal Medicine is a Mystery to Most of Us

Chinese herbs are a staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). When coupled with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine can treat many different health issues as effectively as western medicine and in some instances, Chinese herbs and acupuncture can be far more effective than western medicine.

However, Chinese herbs are also shrouded in mystery. We have heard stories about how some herbs can be very beneficial for one’s health. At the same time, most westerners have only heard about the use of ginseng and the horns of different animals for men who either have erectile problems or want to increase their libido.

Most of us have never specifically taken Chinese herbs even though we have consumed various medications in pill and liquid form that may contain extracts from Chinese herbs. If you think about it, where do the ingredients come from that make up these pills and liquids? They come from laboratories and factories and are synthesized by machines. But what are the origins of the active ingredients? The active ingredients in many instances are originally sourced from flowers and roots.

Chinese Herbs in Pill and Tablet Form

A TCM doctor will typically prescribe Chinese medicine to their patients in one of two forms. The first is a pill form. Chinese medicine has been synthesized for years into tiny black “tea” balls (‘Wan’ in Chinese) that are very convenient to take and quite effective at treating various conditions. Your Chinese herbalist will typically prescribe that you take anywhere from 7-10 of these tiny black balls at a time. During the last few years, the makers of these herbal pills have made a variation available. These are pill form of the same medicine (‘Pian’ in Chinese). Some TCM doctors prefer one over the other. However, the ingredients are supposed to be the same. It’s simply a difference in the amount of balls/pills you take at one time.

The other form that TCM doctors prescribe is a combination of raw unprocessed Chinese herbs that must be boiled in water to create a tea. The doctor will weigh or portion out specific amounts of specific herbs to achieve the desired effect. These herbs are added to water and boiled for a set amount of time to extract the medicine from the roots. The roots are removed from the liquid and the liquid is then drunk.

There are a number of very important Chinese herbs for TCM doctors. Here are just a few:

  • White Mulberry
  • Astragalus
  • Dang Gui

There is a huge array of herbs that a TCM doctor will use. Most TCM doctors will have anywhere from a couple of hundred to well over a thousand different herbs in stock.

For many of us who have passed through Chinatown in lower Manhattan,  or Chinatown in one of the other boroughs, we have certainly come across stores selling Chinese herbs. The smell from the stores selling these herbs is unmistakable. Many westerners find the smell quite unpleasant At the same time, we have a fascination about what these herbs are and what they do.

There are some miraculous medications available in the USA that can save people’s lives. Unfortunately, many of these medications come with some very severe and dangerous side-effects. More than ever people question whether there are alternative methods of treating their health conditions. And more than ever, people are turning to alternative health practices such as traditional Chinese medicine in the hope that they can have their health conditions treated without subjecting themselves to the downside of these miracle western drugs.

Chinese herbs are being used more and more in place of western medications that have well documented side-effects. Given the choice of consuming something grown in nature, that has no side-effects, and taking something synthesized in the laboratory that has side-effects, wouldn’t you prefer to try the natural way?

Dr. Feng Liang is well known for her ability to treat health issues with acupuncture. However, what many people do not know is that Dr. Liang is a very skilled Chinese herbologist. In fact, Dr. Liang’s 3 decades of practice with Chinese herbs has allowed her to come up with herbal treatments that are much more effective than western medicine (and far safer). In some of our next blogs, we will write about some of the Chinese herbs that Dr. Liang has used very effectively to treat various conditions includes Herpes and Chronic Yeast Infections.