Herbal Formulas and Supplements

Herbal Formulas and Supplements are a major component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Herbal therapy, next to dietary therapy, is perhaps the most widely used Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment modality. TCM relies on herbal therapies for the treatment of illness, the optimization of health, and prevention of disease.

There are 5,767 medicinal substances currently in use, including plant, animal, and mineral substances. The materia medica (book on TCM medicinal substances) includes information on the traditional uses, dosages, and contra-indications for each substance, as well as any available information on drug interactions and published conventional medical research.

How do TCM practitioners use formulations?

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

Although there are thousands of traditional herbal formulas for just about any imaginable condition, a formula is almost always modified by the TCM practitioner to suit the subtle nuances of the condition and constitution of the patient, making each formulation highly individualized.

Chinese medicinal formulations are prepared in numerous ways, such as:

  • Chinese herbal decoctions: The most traditional method of preparing an herbal formula in China, decoctions can involve lengthy preparation and result in "teas" infamous for their strong taste and aroma. For these reasons decoctions are not as popular or as widely used in the west. 
  • Herbal powders, which can be mixed with hot water to make a tea. These are more convenient to prepare and use, and are not as pungent as traditional decoctions.
  • Chinese Patent Formulas are pre-made herbal formulations in pill or tablet form. These are perhaps the most widely used form of Chinese herbal medicine outside of China.
  • Syrups are soothing preparations for cough and sore throat. They are also a convenient way to administer herbal formulations to children.
  • Liniments, salves, compresses and plasters, which are used for external application. Herbal therapy, next to dietary therapy, is perhaps the most widely used TCM treatment modality. TCM relies on herbal therapies for the treatment of illness, the optimization of health, and prevention of disease.