Chinese Herbal Medicine at the Acupuncture Clinic in Plymouth

Chinese Herbal Medicine

About Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM)

Chinese Herbs Chinese herbs medicine (CHM) have been used in China for centuries,  among the earliest literature are lists of prescriptions for specific ailments, exemplified by the manuscript "Recipes for 52 Ailments", found in the Mawangdui tombs which were sealed in 168 BC. There are roughly 13,000 raw herbs ever used in China and over 100,000 medicinal recipes recorded in the ancient literatures. Nowadays, there are about 1,000 kind of herbs are commonly used in hospitals in China.    Each herbal medicine prescription is a cocktail of many substances, usually tailored to the individual patient.

How does the Chinese herbal medicine (CHM)work?

According to Chinese medicine theory, illness or ailments occur because of disharmony qi and blood or balance broken between Yin and Yang. It can  be invasion of the body by external factors like wind, cold, heat, dampness and dryness, causing obstruction of the energy in the meridians; or inappropriate life style or long-term illness causing weakness of the internal organs. Some may be due to emotional disturbance. Herbs can help the body to regain the balance by eliminating the causative factors and obstruction or by tonifying the weakness. Modern research has proven that some natural herbs/plants are natural broad-spectrum antibiotics, anti-virus, and immune-stimulant.

How is the Chinese herbal medicine taken?

In clinic, the oral taken herbal medicines are used in the following ways:-

A. Decoction/Tea


decoctionBased on the overall condition a patient has, which includes the state of illness, the patient's sex, age, constitution, occurring season of the disease and circumstances, the physician begins with the guidelines as delineated in classical texts to form a basic prescription and then adjusts the mixture to the patients needs by adding or deleting various herbs, or manipulating the dosages of the compounds to fit the precise disharmony. A herbal prescription usually contains 5-15 substances and the dosages average 3-15 grams per herb. Patients need cook these herbs by themselves.

B. Patent Medicine- Pills or Tablets

Chinese patent herbal medicine is standardized herbal formulas. From ancient times, pills were formed by combining several herbs and other ingredients, which were dried and ground into a powder. They were then mixed with a binder and formed into pills by hand. The binder was traditionally honey. Modern pills or tablets are made in the factory, they are usually extracts from the herbs/formulas, called concentrated pills/ tablets. They are much easier and convenient to take, suitable for long-term but not very severe conditions.

 C. Herbal Extracts

Single Chinese herbal extracts are herbal decoctions that have been condensed into a granular or powdered form. It is a very modern evolution for herbs. The doctor will make a prescription and mix them for you. You can drink it like coffee. Nowadays, some patent medicines or formulas are also made in granular or powder forms.

Does Chinese Herbal Medicine have any other forms?

 Yes, except the above 3 forms, Chinese herbs are also be made into the following forms: Capsule, syrup - for oral use; Cream, ointment, tincture, spray, plaster, suppository - for external use; 

Is Chinese Herbs Medicine safe? 

Clinically, Chinese herbal medicine has been practiced directly on the human body for thousands of years, which is much longer than Western Medicine. It is been proven that it is effective, safe, less side-effect. Although some of herbs are humanly planted, but most them grow wildly  and  naturally collected. Some herbs may have some side-effect or small toxin,  but through certain way of preparing or processing before  use or combining use with other herbs, this can be avoided.

What is the relationship and difference between food and Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Chinese Here and Medicine Plants are the source of food, so do the herbs. Some food are used as herbs or some herbs can be taken as daily food, such as ginger, spring onion, garlic, pepper and etc.  Some fruits are used as herbs as well, for example, orange peel/skin, longan, hawthorn and many more. All food and herbs have their nature and flavour. This is the fundamental elements  of their nutrition and therapeutic function Natures includes cool/cold, warm/hot; flavours includes pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty. How often and how much of certain herbs we can take depends on their nature and flavour and the constitution of the patients. Most food we can take every day, because they have neutral or mild in nature and flavour. But some foods we can have occasionally or with small amount each time, because their have stronger nature and flavour,  it is either too cold or too hot. For example, patient with IBS (cold stomach and spleen) better not have pear, melon or banana (all these fruit have cold nature); while people with skin conditions like eczema and Psoriasis (heat in the body or blood) can not have curry, pepper and alcohol.

Table shows the nature of food and Chinese herbal medicine

Nature of Plants
Cold Cool  Neutral Warm Hot
Used for medicine Some food & fruit
Water melon
Most food
& fruits
Some food & fruit
Used for medicine
Herbs used for cooking/flavour
Herbs used for cooking/flavour
Black pepper
Sichuan pepper 
Clear heat syndrome
Strengthen Yin
      Warn cold syndrome
Strengthen Yang

Can I take Chinese Herbal Medicine when I take prescribed medicine from doctor?

Yes, you can. As a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner, they also had training in western medicine. For better result or to avoid interference you are advised that they are taken in different time of the day. You can also notify your doctor when you are taking Chinese herbal medicine if you wish, but some doctors may have no idea about Chinese herbal medicines.

How long do I need take Chinese herbal medicine?

This is totally depends on your conditions. Generally, for acute condition, you may only need 2 days or 5 days, for chronic and long-term illness, you may need few months.