Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture have the same underlying principles and modalities. Herbal medicine, developed empirically over the past several thousand years, uses natural plant and mineral products to treat health problems. Herbal medicine is often used in combination with acupuncture, nutritional supplements and changes in lifestyle to provide holistic treatment of one's complete well being.
Herbs are usually highly specific in their actions, although some may elicit multiple actions at the same time.
Usually, 5 or 6 different herbal ingredients are prescribed in combination in an "herbal formula." Training, knowledge and experience in Chinese herbal medicine is required for proper diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. The components of an herbal formula may work singly or in combination to address different medical symptoms or disorders. Some examples include Sheng Di Huang (fresh rehmannia root) for treating excess heat in the body and Rou Gui (cinnamon bark) for treating lack of heat in the body.
Chinese herbs come in many different forms including liquid extracts, powders, pills, or the traditional form in which the herbs are boiled in water producing a thick tea or soup to be consumed. When prescribed and used under the guidance of a knowledgeable TCM doctor, herbs are quite safe. Depending on the condition, treatment may last a few days to several weeks or months.