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Components of TCM Herbal Medicine

Single Herbs: Individual herbs are used for their specific properties and effects. Examples include ginseng for energy, licorice for detoxification, and ginger for digestion.

Herbal Formulas: Most TCM treatments involve complex formulas composed of several herbs. These formulas are carefully balanced to enhance efficacy and reduce potential side effects. Each herb in a formula has a specific role, such as the chief herb (main therapeutic action), deputy herbs (support and enhance the chief herb), assistant herbs (address secondary symptoms), and envoy herbs (guide the formula to specific parts of the body).

Preparation Methods: Herbs can be prepared in various forms, including decoctions (boiling herbs to make a tea), powders, pills, tinctures, and topical applications. The method of preparation affects the potency and application of the herbs.


Commonly Used Herbs in TCM

Ginseng (Ren Shen): Used to boost energy, improve immune function, and reduce fatigue.


Astragalus (Huang Qi): Supports the immune system, enhances energy, and promotes healing.


Licorice Root (Gan Cao): Used for its harmonizing properties, detoxification, and to soothe the digestive system.


Ginger (Sheng Jiang): Aids digestion, warms the body, and treats nausea.


Dong Quai (Dang Gui): Commonly used for women’s health issues, such as menstrual disorders and hormonal balance.


Rehmannia (Di Huang): Nourishes the blood and yin, supports kidney function, and addresses adrenal fatigue.



Therapeutic Uses

Chronic Illnesses: TCM herbs are used to manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, and digestive disorders.


Acute Conditions: Herbs can treat acute illnesses like colds, flu, and infections by boosting the immune system and alleviating symptoms.


Preventative Care: Herbal medicine is used to maintain health, prevent illness, and promote longevity.


Mental and Emotional Health: Herbs are used to address stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders by calming the mind and supporting emotional balance.


Safety and Regulation

Quality Control: Modern TCM practitioners emphasize the importance of high-quality, sustainably sourced herbs. Many herbs are subject to rigorous testing for purity and potency.

Consultation and Diagnosis: A thorough diagnosis by a qualified TCM practitioner is crucial. They consider individual constitution, symptoms, and overall health to prescribe appropriate herbal formulas.

Potential Interactions: While TCM herbs are generally safe, they can interact with pharmaceuticals. It’s important for patients to inform their healthcare providers about all medications and supplements they are taking.


Research and Modern Integration

Increasing scientific research supports the efficacy of TCM herbal medicine. Studies have demonstrated the benefits of certain herbs in treating conditions like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and autoimmune disorders. Integrative medicine often combines TCM herbal treatments with conventional medical approaches to enhance patient outcomes.


In summary, TCM herbal medicine is a sophisticated system that uses natural herbs to restore balance, promote health, and treat various conditions. It is deeply rooted in ancient Chinese medical philosophy and continues to be an integral part of modern healthcare practices.



Eastern herbal therapy comes in several different forms. Some herbal prescriptions use raw herbs that have to be boiled into a tea to drink. Powdered herbs are dissolved into hot water to also drink as a tea. A tincture is a liquid formula where herbs have been decocted into an alcohol in order to achieve quicker results. Pills, tablets and topical forms are also common.



In most cases, the answer is no. The herbs work by influencing systems as a whole, not by targeting an organ through a specific mechanism of action, the way pharmaceuticals do. Additionally, most herb prescriptions consist of four to twelve herbs, making it unlikely that any one herb has the potential to interfere with medication. However, please do not adjust your medication without checking with your physician, even if you feel the herbs help your condition. We will be happy to explain your treatment to your doctor, if needed. Your practitioner will review the current list of medications and supplements you are taking to make sure the herbs are safe for you to take.

Eastern Herbal Medicine can be an effective means for managing the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. Some herbal medicines can be applied topically when made into pastes or plasters, and used local on the abdomen or on specific acupuncture points.

When prescribing herbal medicine, a proper diagnosis of the patient’s condition will determine which herbal formula is most suitable. Often chemotherapy damages the energy of the digestive system (Spleen and Stomach) leading to nausea and a weakened immune system. The most useful single herb for this case is astragalus (in Chinese, Huang Qi), well known for its immune boosting benefits. However, only rarely are single herbs prescribed over the use of complex herbal formulas, due to the benefit of adjusting the prescription to treat all possible symptoms the patient may be experiencing. 

Therefore, classical formulas, such as the Six Gentlemen Decoction (in Chinese, Liu Zhen Zi Tang) may be used, or a combination of the formula with additional herbs to augment its function. Chemotherapy all tends to disrupt the Yin energy of the Liver and Kidney, leading to a generation of internal heat. In these cases, Eight Flavor Rehmannia Pill (in Chinese, Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan), can be used. A variety of single herbs are added to prescriptions to enhance the cancer fighting and immune modulating effects. Red Reishi mushrooms (in Chinese, Ling Zhi) have long been used to enhance the immune system and regulate the functioning of the body. A variety of mushrooms, including Red Reishi and Shiitake, have been used medicinally for cancer treatment, as well as to inhibit virus activity.

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