Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine, when practiced as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is based on an individualized pattern diagnosis as well as a disease diagnosis.  This means the TCM patient receives a custom written herbal prescription designed to treat both the symptoms of disease, as well as their constitutional imbalance.


How do I know if a practitioner is professionally trained in Chinese herbal medicine?

The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) has created a certification process for Chinese herbal medicine.  A prospective patient should feel free to ask about the training and credentials of a potential practitioner.

Are all herbs plant-based?

The majority of ingredients for herbal formulas are from the leaves, twigs, flowers, stems, roots and seeds of plants; however, Chinese herbal medicine sometimes includes ingredients from animals and minerals.

Do all of the herbs come from China?

About 20% of the standard Chinese herbs originated outside of China.  The Chinese practitioners have adopted and incorporated these herbs into their materia medica from all over the world. What makes these herbs “Chinese” is that they are prescribed according to Chinese medical theory and a TCM pattern diagnosis.

How are Chinese herbs taken?

Chinese herbal formulas are traditionally prescribed as an herbal decoction or tea.  This means that the herbs are boiled for 30 minutes or more then strained and taken 2-3 times a day.  Today, herbal formulas come in pill, tincture, and powdered extracts for modern convenience.  At Family Acupuncture and Wellness most of our formulas are in tinctured or pill form.

What are the benefits of taking custom blended formulas?

Custom blended formulas allow the practitioner to write a prescription to best work with your body and your current symptoms.  They can be altered based on your needs and symptoms.

Does Chinese herbal medicine have side effects?

No, not if the formula has been correctly prescribed.  Most of the medicinals in the Chinese materia medica have a very low toxicity compared to common over-the counter Western drugs.  If a patient experiences any discomfort while taking their Chinese herbal formula, they should tell their practitioner, who will then modify their formula until there are no side effects.

What is Chinese herbal medicine good for?

Chinese herbal medicine can be used to treat most human disease.  It can be used to treat acute disease, like the common cold and flu, as well as chronic diseases, such as gynecological disorders, autoimmune disease, and degenerative diseases due to aging.  Chinese herbal medicine promotes the body’s own ability to heal.

Are Chinese herbs safe for pregnant and nursing women?

Yes, if prescribed by a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist.  Chinese herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years to treat symptoms throughout pregnancy.  Likewise, there are many effective formulas that are prescribed postpartum to help encourage milk production, balance hormones, and ease anxiety and depression.

Are Chinese herbs safe for kids?

Yes, there are many wonderful formulas that can treat colic, earaches, colds, flus, allergies and other conditions that effect babies and children.  The dosing is modified for their age and weight.

How long does it take to see results?

In acute illness, results can be seen within hours.  In chronic conditions, improvement may be seen in as little as two weeks. Although, chronic conditions may require more time for dramatic results, the patient and practitioner should be able to see encouraging signs of improvement along the way.