Chinese Prescription Herbals
Did you know that Chinese medicine also uses herbs and other natural ingredients to help its patients?
The use of herbal medicine takes back many thousands of years, with the first book of Chinese herbal medicine being well over 2000 years old. These medicines can take many forms, some of which we might know and some of which might be new.
When you’re working with Dr. C, she might give you little black pellets/Beebies. These pellets are made of an extract of the herbs which is then dried and then formed into the little pellets you see.
You might get capsules which have powder in them.
This powder is the same sort of material that’s the basis of the pellets. It’s a dried extract of the herbs.
Think of it like this:
if you cook sugar, it’s form will reduce. If you let it cook down long enough, it might become caramel, soft. If you cook it down even further it might stick to the pan. Then it becomes almost chewy like the soft caramel candy
if you cook it down even further it might become stiff. If you let it cool it will become hard and brittle like hard caramel candy.
When you cook an herbal formula, you boil it down. The more you boil it the thicker the liquid becomes. If you boil it down, it can become like syrup, and the active ingredients will concentrate. This is like Loquat syrup that you might use for your throat when it is sore. If you are able to take enough of the water out, you will be left with a residue that is very concentrated and very strong.
In Chinese medicine, we take this very concentrated material and let it dry until it is a solid substance. The solid substance is then ground into powder.
This powder is the granules that Dr. C might give you to dissolve into warm water at night, and it’s the same powder that is usually in your capsules.
Herbal prescriptions can be used with or without other Chinese medicine modalities to be effective.
Like the other modalities the goal is to harmonize and balance the Qi of the body. What makes Chinese herbal medicine unique is the ways herbs are put together to create formulas. In other forms of herbal medicine, especially western herbal medicine, herbs are often delivered singly or combined into very small formulas of herbs with the same function.
A formula usually contains at least four to twenty herbs.
Pre-made formulas are available as pills, tablets, capsules, powders, alcohol-extracts, water-extracts, etc. Most of these formulas are very convenient and do not require any boiling or cooking of the herbs, thus making it easier to comply with the physicians recommendations.