Chinese Herbal Medicine

Adelaide City Acupuncture provides Chinese herbal medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine

About Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Medicine (Materia Medica – a pharmacological reference book used by TCM practitioners) includes thousands of medicinal substances—primarily plants, but also some minerals and animal products. Different parts of plants, such as the leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds, are used. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), herbs are often combined in formulas and given as a wide number of forms.

How do TCM practitioners use formulations?

TCM practitioners most often use two or more substances in Chinese medicinal formulations. Because of this, it creates a balanced, synergistic effect that reflects the holistic nature of the diagnosis.

There are literally thousands of traditional herbal formulas for just about every condition imaginable. Though, a formula is almost always modified by the TCM practitioner to suit the subtle nuances of the condition and constitution of the patient. This makes each formulation highly individualised.

Chinese medicinal formulations are prepared in a number of different ways:

  • Chinese herbal decoctions – The most traditional method of preparing an herbal formula in China. Decoctions can involve lengthy preparation and result in “teas”. They are infamous for their strong taste and aroma. Because of this, decoctions are not as popular or as widely used in the west.
  • Herbal powders – Can be mixed with hot water to make a tea. Are more convenient to prepare and use, and are not as pungent as traditional decoctions.
  • Chinese Patent Formulas – Pre-made herbal formulations in pill or tablet form and because of this, are perhaps the most widely used form of Chinese herbal medicine outside of China.
  • Syrups – Soothing preparations for coughs and sore throat, are also a convenient way to administer herbal formulations to children.
  • Liniments, salves, compresses and plasters – Used for external application. Herbal therapy, next to dietary therapy, is perhaps the most widely used TCM treatment modality. TCM relies on herbal therapies both for the treatment of illness and in the optimisation of health and prevention of disease.

Is It Safe?

  • Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by an experienced practitioner using sterile needles. Improperly performed acupuncture can cause potentially serious side effects.
  • Tai chi and qi gong, two mind and body practices used in TCM, are generally safe.
  • There have been reports of Chinese herbal products being contaminated with drugs, toxins, heavy metals or not containing the listed ingredients. Some of the herbs used in Chinese medicine can interact with drugs, have serious side effects, or be unsafe for people with certain medical conditions.

Is It Effective?

An increasing weight of evidence from Western scientific research is demonstrating the effectiveness of Chinese Medicine for treating a wide variety of conditions. 

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health, and as a result, will help ensure coordinated and safe care.