Chinese Herbs & Formulas

Chinese herbal medicine is an integral aspect of Chinese Medicine (CM), a system that traces its origins back thousands of years. Rooted in ancient philosophies like Daoism, CM perceives the human body as a miniature universe with its own set of natural laws. Over millennia, practitioners have developed an extensive pharmacopeia of hundreds of herbs, each with specific properties and functions.

Types Of Chinese Herbs & The Concept Of Formulas

Categories of Chinese herbs encompass a wide spectrum, characterized by their inherent qualities such as hot, cold, warm, cool, and neutral, as well as their distinct flavors, which include sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and pungent. These herbal elements form the foundation for their classification, facilitating the selection of herbs that harmonize with specific organs and bodily functions. Chinese herbs hail from diverse botanical sources, spanning roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, and occasionally include substances derived from animals and minerals.

Chinese herbal medicine seldom relies on solitary herbs in isolation. Instead, Chinese herbalists often combine multiple herbs into complex formulas tailored to the individual’s needs. These formulas aim to balance the body’s Yin and Yang, and the flow of Qi (energy) and blood. The herbs in a formula are often designated roles such as the “emperor” herb, which addresses the main symptom, and “minister,” “assistant,” and “courier” herbs that support the emperor herb or direct the formula to specific parts of the body.

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Benefits Of Chinese Herbs And Formulas

Multi-Faceted Approach

Chinese herbal formulas offer a multifaceted approach to treatment. A single formula can exert multiple therapeutic effects, making it possible to treat more than one symptom or condition simultaneously.

Lower Side Effects

Compared to many synthetic drugs, properly prescribed Chinese herbs usually have fewer side effects. This makes them a favored option for long-term treatment of chronic diseases.


Chinese herbal formulas are adaptable and can be modified as the patient’s condition changes, providing dynamic treatment options.


In CM, herbs can also serve preventive roles, aimed at strengthening the body’s resistance to diseases.

Diseases And Conditions Treated

Chronic Diseases

Chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disorders are often managed with Chinese herbal treatments aimed at restoring balance and enhancing the body’s own healing capabilities.

Respiratory Disorders

Chinese herbs like Astragalus and Ephedra are commonly used to treat respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, and COPD.

Digestive Issues

Formulas like “Ban Xia Hou Po Tang” are used for digestive disorders like IBS, bloating, gastric ulcers, abdominal distention, indigestion, etc.

Mental and Emotional Well-being

Herbs like Suan Zao Ren and formulas like “Suan Zao Ren Tang” are employed to treat anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

Women’s Health

Issues like irregular menstruation, fertility concerns, and menopausal symptoms often involve formulas such as “Wen Jing Tang”

Oncological Support

Some Chinese herbs and formulas like Shu Yu Wan are used as adjuncts to Western cancer therapies to alleviate side effects and boost immunity.

Infectious Diseases

Xiao Chai Hu Tang is often used at the early stages of colds and flu, aiming to expel pathogens before they penetrate deeper into the body.

Evidence-Based Practice

Though there is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of Chinese herbs, they are not universally supported within the medical community, and more research is needed.

Integrating Chinese Herbs and Formulas into Holistic Healthcare

Chinese herbs and formulas offer a nuanced, personalized approach to healthcare that treats the patient as an integrated whole. However, it is imperative to approach this ancient system with a discerning mind, ideally under the supervision of certified practitioners and in conjunction with evidence-based medical treatments.