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Scared to Take Chinese Herbs? Here Are the Basics!

September 28, 2010 by  

Scared to Take Chinese Herbs? Here Are the Basics!

Herbology is the study of the properties of herbs, their collection, preparation, effects, dosage, administration, combination and contraindication. Chinese herbs are a main feature of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The study, use, gathering, preparation and administration of herbs for the treatment of illness and disease is thousands of years old.

Traditional Chinese medicine is concerned with the theories of Yin and Yang, Five Elements, Meridians and Pathogenic Factors causing disease. Specific methods are used to treat disease, such as acupuncture, massage, energy work, muscle scraping and herbal medicine. In China, herbs are clinically used to treat diseases according to the basic theories of TCM.
Homeostasis and Chinese Herbs
The goal of TCM is to return the body to homeostasis: That is, its optimal balanced functioning state. When the body is at homeostasis there is no room for disease. It is only when the body is out of balance (something is deficient, excessive or stagnating) that pain, illness or disease can occur.

It is for this reason that the Western application of synthetic drugs and natural herbal supplements can never hope to cure disease. Their application is based not on returning the body to homeostasis (removing the problem and balancing the body) but rather on dealing with the symptom (e.g., pain, vitamin deficiency).

The application of Chinese herbal therapy is able to balance the underlying cause(s) of pain, illness and disease, but only after a proper pattern identification has been diagnosed by a competent TCM practitioner. Patterns of disharmony (imbalance) include such things as Spleen Qi Deficiency, Heart Blood Stagnation, Liver Qi Stagnation, Excess Phlegm Damp in the Channels, Interior Heat Syndrome and so on.

These patterns describe syndromes occurring in the body, not merely the symptoms associated with disease. They refer to underlying imbalances in the body causing the body to manifest symptoms you may be experiencing. And many seemingly unrelated symptoms can be caused by the same underlying pattern of disharmony.

Let’s take “Interior Heat Syndrome” as our example. Symptoms associated with this syndrome include diarrhea, eventual constipation, abdominal distension, eczema, acne, bloodshot eyes, urinary tract infection, genital herpes, cold sores, insomnia and eventual blood stasis, among other things. By recognizing that this list of things is in whole or in part caused by too much heat in the interior of the body (as opposed to a fever, which is heat that has moved to the exterior of the body), they can then be treated at the same time.

Once the Interior Heat is resolved, that is, once the body’s internal temperature is balanced, the symptoms associated with the problem will go away. This happens because the body has been returned to homeostasis and no longer supports an environment conducive to prolonging the symptoms.

How to Take Chinese Herbs
There are many ways to take Chinese herbal medicine. Raw herbs can be prescribed, decocted and drank. This method generally offers the strongest effects, as the herbs are fresh and their grams and combination can be precisely decided by an herbalist to match your syndrome. Moreover, the liquid is easily absorbed into the body. However, the preparation generally has a bad smell and the taste is often not liked by Westerners.

Herbal powders are also available in single form or in common formulas. These are like instant coffee in that a measured spoonful will dissolve in a mug of hot water to be drank in one sitting. Again, this is effective and fast, but leaves much to be desired in the area of taste.

Perhaps the most common way of taking Chinese herbs in the West is what is known as the Patent Herbal Formulas. These are prepackaged herbal formulas that have been found effective for specific syndromes. Examples include taking You Gui Wan for Kidney Yang Deficiency or Tao Hong Si Wu Wan for Blood Stasis or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan for Uplifting of the Central Qi. These are little black pills the size of BBs that are generally taken in quantities of six, eight or 12 pills at a time, three times per day.

There are several ways of determining how long it takes the herbs to work. Since we are talking about changing an underlying condition in the body, as opposed to symptomatic relief, times do vary. In general, six weeks is a minimum amount of time it will take for the herbs to build up in the bloodstream to a level necessary to effect a strong change in the body. Three months time is about average. For some diseases, nine months is not uncommon. For chronic cases, a general rule of thumb is one month of herbs for every year the problem has been in the body.

For best results, Chinese herbal medicine should be used under the direction of a qualified practitioner. Your condition (pattern) should first be identified, and then herbs prescribed accordingly. They are a great and gentle way of balancing the body.

Just keep an open mind and remember, they will be less effective if used in the allopathic way — that is, taking them to remove a symptom as opposed to correcting an imbalance.

— Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley

is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. The Wiley Method provides a revolutionary way of providing recovery and prevention of chronic pain, illness and disease. Grab your FREE COPY of Dr. Mark Wiley's "The 3 Secrets to Optimal Health" HERE.

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  • Anthony

    Thanks, Doc. A great read. I am looking at grandma’s country-fide ecipe for the cure all, every chance I get. And, this is not a jab at what you bring to the table to discuss, either. I look everywhere I can for alternatives….

    Do you know about ?

  • s c

    A better question would deal with American MDs who rely on drugs based on a philosophy that worhips ‘cut, burn and poison.’ Where was the AMA 2,000 years ago?
    I have no problems with Chinese medicine. As long as the herbs and treatments are standardized, I’ll take my chances. Chinese medicine is under-rated, and deserves a fair chance to help people get and stay healthy.


    Modern Western medicine /pharmacology is only several decades old .Many of these treatments and cures from natual sources have been used for over 5000 yrs and just in the past few have we been led to beleive that they are dangerous. Mainly by company’s who fear loss of profits from alternative medicines .The debate over using cannabis is a perfect example it has been used medicinaly for thousands of years and as recently as 1974 our own govt did a study at the medical college of virginia.They where looking for evidence of cannabis use causing harm to the immune system .Where they did not find any they did find that TCH can obliterate certain cancer tumors and works to send a signal to cancer cells to shut down and stop multiplying.The project was immeaditly shut down and never heard from again till recently when some one found it in the archives the reasearch was continued recently in spain and is looking very promising .But for americans who’s lives are being more and more controlled by the DEA and FDA and a whole host govt agencys who are hell bent on keeping americans from having any say what so ever in the treatment of their own health issues they will have to wait and probably put up a strong fight to gain back what should be a basic god given right to treat ones own illnesses in a way that individual thinks is best for their self .

    If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

    • Anthony

      The part most Americans don’t want to give credence to… is the fact that during his Presidency, Ronald Reagan went to Germany to have procedures performed which helped to erradicate his “cancer” … and he lived on for another 20 years into his 90′s. You never hear the full details/accounting of that event, which was very very hush-hush back in the 1980′s.

      Our Chemcial Companies are the worst of them all. Monsanto, JD Searle, etc. Their efforts on GMOs and the alternative sweeteners have caused a serious rise in cancers as well as the diabetes epidemic which started in the early to mid 1980′s.

      FOOD INC

      Just to name a few – these are documentaries that deserve review.
      Let your own investigations tell you whether it’s just smoke & mirrors.

      In SWEET MISERY, you find that RUMSFELD was CEO of JD SEARLE and that Chem Co, was directly responsible for pushing an alternative sweetener onto the american public despite it’s TOXIC effects when it permeates past the blood-brain barrier and how it transforms itself into the toxic substance that burns holes in your grey matter.

      It is considered, today, that most of the nuerological problems in the human community are related to this JD SEARLE/RUMSFELD product which is now pushed worldwide and has been since the late 1980′s.

      Getting off the grid and searching for homegrown alternatives is seriously better than what we are seeing from BIG Business in this day and age. And, they know it. Hence the reason you are seeing them clamp down on vitamins and protein powders as something that should be regulated by the FDA… since these offer a boon against the nonsense they are pushing. If we find a way around them purposely keeping us sick and diseased… they lose more control. Heck, they want to control ORANGE JUICE….

      How about we not go about giving these people ground, or carry their water by making excuses for them….

      • s c

        Anthony, aside from the FACT that the FDA is an utterly corrupt and incomptent agency, one reason why they want to ‘control’ orange juice is because it’s a Vitamin C source. The main reason why they want this added ‘control’ has nothing to do with making o j better or safer.
        One of the FDA’s most consistent habits is in making products WORSE. They know from experience that there are a lot of dumbed-down Americans who can’t bring themselves to THINK or understand why the FDA needs to keep its nasty, filthy nose OUT of healthcare issues.

    • Mary A

      What is this TCH that can obliterate certain cancer tumors and works to send a signal to cancer cells to shut down and stop multiplying.
      Mary A

      • judith

        thc is in marijuana. it is great for pain. but since i live in a state were it is illegal we can’t use it. pain medication really makes you sick

  • Mary

    I don’t think there is any question that chinese herbs are a good way to go to keep healthy. The question is, can we trust where, the way in which they are being produced, ex:processes used,expiration dates etc? I bought a bottle of herbal nedicine at a health store. After getting them home I noticed the expiration date on the bottle was expired. So you have to know more about the product in the bottle.Then there is the issue of costs for the best quality products out there. Our health insurance won’t cover these meds.

    • Texpat

      Beware of almost any treatment covered by insurance.

    • ANNIE

      I found this site… looks like, tastes like, cooks like but is all natural…

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Dear Mary,
      Your question about knowing where the herbs come from is a common one. People who are not used to these products, hear the words “Chinese” and “Herbs” and think “I can’t trust them.” The fact is, most of the herbals sold in the USA are GMP Certified and made in the US in the same factories that produce supplements. The ones that are imported into the US (and cost less than half the price of the US brands), cannot enter unless they are also GMP Certified. That means, the factories are checked for cleanliness and that the correct herbs, parts of the herbs, and quantities labeled are actually going into the bottles.

      Some good companies to look for (or order) online are May Way, Treasure of East, Min Shan.

      • s c

        Dr. Wiley, Americans have been conditioned to respond negatively to herbs, vitamins and minerals. American MDs are taught to hate herbs, vitamins and minerals, and that “attitude” is passed on to their patients.
        Self-education is a great way to compensate for the twisted, unscientific garbage that comes out of America’s medical schools. The day that most Americans respond negatively to patented drugs is the day that we’ve turned the corner, and the AMA/FDA/Big Pharma money-lusting cabal is on its way out.

  • FreedomFighter

    Apple Cider vinagar with the “Mother”, Made in America.

    you will be seeing that more…

    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi

  • Lois

    I’ve studied the Chinese Five Element Theory on health, at this particular school, the Chinese theory was the only being offered. It is a sound theory. The East Indian Ayervedic is just as sound. The Chinese learned their theory from the East Indian. These theories have been around for thousands of years.

    From what I read the Chinese Emperors told their doctors either they find a way to heal them, or the doctor would simply be killed. Threatened with death is a great motivator. Our ‘medical’ theory, with the exception of emergency medicine, I call a ‘death culture’, it is NOT sound.

    I had a stroke almost 2 years ago, refused to take AMA prescribed drugs, I take Chinese formulas. It doesn’t mean that is all I should do is take the formulas, you of course have to watch diet, and exercise, or move, socialize.

    I do not approve of China’s politics, but I approve of their medical theory, as well as East Indian’s medical theory. European Americans have not been on the earth as long as the Chinese, and East Indian.

  • Sharon

    Are there Chinese Herbs for Hight blood pressure?

    • Woody

      Yes, but will take time to cure, Dr Xu’s you can call him and you will find Dr Xu is different to any other western Dr. good luck!

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      Dear Sharon,
      Yes there are Chinese herbs for high blood pressure… and most other ailments. What makes Chinese herbs and medicine different than Western medicine, is that it does not say “take this product for that problem.” It takes all things being experienced along with the ailment, then provides a formula for the pattern of imbalance… of which the HBP is a part. So while there are 7 or 8 HBP formulas, they are for different patterns of imbalance in the body (syndromes) that are the root cause of one’s HBP. For best results, try to find a practitioner who can diagnose the “pattern” that is present with your HBP, then the correct herbal product for YOUR HBP will be given you. Otherwise, like Rx, the herbs may help the symptoms but never work toward correcting the cause.


    What kind of statistical evidence for the age and well being of the average chinese citizen vs the avg. U.S. citizen can be supplied and from what source is this information gathered?

    • LocalYokel

      Why compare to the Chinese? Try comparing to the Japanese since their longevity is number one world wide and discover what the FDA is hiding from you that is not patentable. Then you can get past trusting double blind testing required and controlled by the FDA / big pharma patent-for-profit highly advertised poisons that are about to force fed to you with Obamacare.

  • Jim H.

    Our veterinarian uses TCM and the dog is doing great.


    Dragon herbs has high quality asian herbs.Very good.Owner is Ron Teeguarden.

  • Ann Carlson

    Is there a competent TCM in Tucson, Arizona

    • Woody

      I don’t know in Tucson, AZ.

      Try to call Dr Xu in IL.

  • jmildred

    I have the same question. I read Dr. Wiley’s article with much interest; then, when I finished reading I felt totally let down! No indication of where/how to locate a competent TCM. it’s great to know all these great things, but what good does it do if we can’t make use of the knowledge?

    • dan az

      try googling it couldnt hurt.

    • Woody

      Dr Xu in IL.

      • AutumnGal

        Why do you continue to post, “DR XU in IL” ? Why not provide a web address? Very annoying….

    • Dr. Mark Wiley

      There are several ways to find a practitioner in your area.

      1) Google search, “TCM” or “Chinese Herbs” or “Acupuncture” in “Your Town”

      2) Visit and click on “Find A Practitioner” button.

      Best of luck!

  • Bharat Patel

    I have been impressed by Ayurvedic medicines, but then I don’t get answers why great emperors in India die relatively young after health problems. Like Akbar, Shivaji etc who could afford anything in this world. Why they couldn’t live past 90 like a lot of ordinary soldiers in India and USA lives now-a-days.

    Combine this with high infant death rate before Allopathy’s progress and high death rate due to Tuberculosis, malaria etc. Why Ayurved didn’t resolve it?

    More, Ayurvedic medicines is more of preventive kind, and you have to keep taking it while you are not sick. What is cost of it when you keep taking it all the time? How would one get back to balanced situation only with Ayurvedic medicine if balance is somehow lost?

    Necessity is mother of invention. What necessitated invention of Alopathic cure? To me, it was huge limitations of Ayurvedic medicines curing diseases, and lacking ability to rapidly create it in large quantity, especially after drought etc.

    Guys and Gals, I am an Indian and I have been treated by Ayurvedic doctor for over 2 years and almost all the time I ended up to going to higher allopathic specialized ENT MD or a allopathic medicine from same Ayurvedic doctor. Thats only after I come to USA I learnt after several X-rays that I have structural Sinus problem. It took me 3 moths to completely get off the sinus problem by a surgery after it was discovered and it hasn’t return in last 3 years. had I stayed in India, I would have visited doctor at least 10 times in 3 years.

    You probably have not heard horror stories of treating TB and cancer with Ayurvedic medicines resulting in deaths, and so you are under impression that it is a sure cure. Ayurvedic medicine survived allopathy in India in large part because of it’s attachment with the culture and religion.

    Finally, Ayurvedic medicines is not a bad thing and it has a lot of benefits and I still use it as first aid cure (like turmeric, honey etc), but it is not a replacement of Allopathy. On the other hand, I believe, allopathy can do everything any Ayurvedic medicines can do.

  • Bharat Patel


    The line …I have been treated by Ayurvedic doctor for over 2 years and almost all the time… should read …I have been treated by Ayurvedic doctor for over 20 years and almost all the time…

  • Suma G Nathan

    I am a Holistic Practionaire of Nutritionals, Chinese, Ayurvedics, Rainforest and American Indian Herbals. first-they are regulated, second we know the Fear and Denial Assoc.FDA) is trying to kill us! There are options for everyone. Going to your primary Doc for Diagnois
    is still a good thing to find out what is wrong, so I can work with clients to set up a Therapeautical Program and also address foods to eat for anti-inflammatory conditions.
    Suma G Nathan
    Certified Registered Holistic Nutritionist
    Certified Chinese Herbologist 30 yrs exp
    Holistic Health Journalist
    in prvt practice, in person, phone consulting.

    • Fed Up Gal in NM

      Suma and others (except LowIQtoo),

      Thank you for this information. The only way any of us can take control of our own health care is if we become better informed and that means looking at all options and making decisions that are best for our own needs.

      LowIQ might boost his/her own IQ if he/she would be open minded enough to research all avenues, before condeming something that has worked for thousands of years.

      My apologies in advance for any typos; blame it on lack of sleep for the past 2 nights. Normally I would try to proof this a bit before submitting, but ……. oh well… is..what it is….

  • Low IQ Too

    My, I thought I was dumb. Chinese herbs? Indian concoctions? Roots, berries, leaves, and bark? Do some real double blind, controlled studies of these materials and then come back. Otherwise, you are just snake oil salesmen. And, BOB LIVINGSTONE SHOULD NOT ALLOW THE PEDDLING OF UNPROVEN HERB RUBS AS MEDICINE ON HIS WEB SITE. All these wearers of the magnetic wrist band and believers in negative or is it positive ions are in the same boat as herb addicts. Sure, some of them have a powerful ingredient. Tea is one. More than caffien in tea. How bout a herbal smoke. Tabaco and hemp please. But, they are still not considered beneficial.
    So, test the rest and give it a rest.

    • s c

      L, you sound like an apologist for the FDA. If you think the FDA is scientific or if their ‘stuff’ doesn’t stink, it’s because you don’t have both feet in the real world.
      Where have you been hiding? American drug makers
      (via the FDA) take natural substances, synthesize them and charge outrageous prices for drugs that tend to be less than helpful, come with side-effects and do little or nothing to get and keep Americans healthy.
      If you’re not a cave dweller, you sure sound like it. Interesting ‘name’ you have, too.

  • Claire

    Have we forgotten that China was/is behind the lead scare, the contaminated dog food, the jewelry problem, the kids toys problem, etc. I wouldn’t touch their stuff with a ten-foot pole. No way will I purchase anything made in China if I can help it. Barf and gag.

  • Stephen Russell

    No, I prefer Chinese RX vs US for Medical care, I took some herbs & my bloating eased & body gas eased since Chinese Meds attack the Root vs the US Meds the symptons.
    FYI I urge More Chinese RX not LESS.
    Edible, liquid, pill, powder, injection fluid.
    ‘Then Yes
    & or Sichuan Chinese diet.

  • http://http morg

    I like everything chinese, but in this day and age they cannot be trusted to give you a clean and healthy product. They put too much junk in their mixtures. I would like to trust them and feel good about taking their products, but don’t. Too bad.

  • DaveH

    More evidence that the FDA (Government) does not really work to protect the citizens. Do not expect that ever to happen. You must protect yourself, because nobody else cares as much about you as you do. That’s why we must get back to the kind of country that our Founders envisioned, where people are free from the expensive, self-interested, and arbitrary rules of the elite leaders:

  • astral

    Very interesting conversation. Please know one thing that no medical system be it Greek/Unani, European, Ayurvedic, Chinese or Allophathic can ever work if you live a horrible life style. If you eat wrong and live an undisciplined chaotic life, eat like a pig and or anything that crawls nobody can save you.

    The natural and alternative medicines are not really medicines but natural foods and supplements that can at times work if they are properly diagnosed. I have been able to hear almost any human disease including cancers and tumors or blindness by my own natural therapies that I create using astral travel in past and future and I find that we can only cure or heal a person who is interested to being healed. Majority of patients who are calling their doctors are normally not interested to get better ever because they wish to keep their current moronic life style and yet expect a few pills or quick procedure to fix their anomalies.

    I will one day perhaps write a manual for human beings who want to be on their own but keep one thing in mind the US practices a medical system that is as bankrupt and evil as its financial and industrial structure. USA citizens will never ever be healthy under current regimen. You can spend 10 trillion or more but this country will remain sick.

    WHY? Because there is no interest to get to the kernel. If this extremely invasive government and an evil and inhuman system run by AMA and FDA etc. is continual life expectancy could be increased for a few more months but the quality of life that people live will keep diminishing.

    There is a lot of difference between quality and quantity. I feel pit for the the citizens of the United States for being denied the nature and its natural course.

  • Fed Up Gal in NM


    I tried sending a link for you to view comparisons and reviews, but it looks like it did not go through; it may come through later…it’s possible they want to approve the link before allowing the post to display. Anyway, if it does come through…it’ll probably come through twice (I thought I messed up the first time, so I resent it)…;-)

  • Palma Neitzke

    Wow I found this place on Yahoo digging around for another subject entirely, and now I’m revisit and go over all the old material.


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