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Chinese Herbal Medicine
 
Believe it or not, Chinese herbal medicine developed, according to ancient medical texts, when humans watched what animals did when they were ill.  Sick animals, according to these accounts, would sometimes go eat a certain kind of mud, or leaves off a certain plant, and then would appear to feel better.  Early Chinese doctors took this concept and began tasting and trying all different kinds of herbs.  Herbology has become quite sophisticated since then.
 
Herbology is traditionally one of the more important modalities utilized in TCM. Because of the internal use of herbal medicine, it is generally accepted as a more effective method for treating internal medicine diseases, while acupuncture is generally seen as more effective for treating external problems.
 
Each herbal medicine prescription is made up of a blend of many herbs, and each formula is tailored to the patient's individual needs.  Herbal formulas are made with one herb as the primary (or "King") targeting the patient's chief complaint. Then the practitioner adds many other ingredients to adjust the formula to the patient's internal Qi conditions. Sometimes, ingredients are added to cancel out toxicity or harsh side-effects of the main ingredient. Some herbs require the use of other ingredients as catalysts. Being able to tailor-make a formula requires great experience and knowledge.  It is this knowledge and experience that can make the difference between an amateur and a great Chinese medicine doctor.  Once the herbs are combined, it's time to prepare the formula so the patient can take it.  Preparation of a formula involves decocting (boiling in water to make tea) a batch of herbs.  Usually this is done by the patient, but some larger herbal pharmacies will do it for the patient.
 
New technology allows herbs to be made into a granular form (ground up so they can dissolve in water).  This technology preserves all the characteristics of the original herb, including the smell.  Once granulated, larger amounts of herbs can effectively be kept in a smaller space, solving storage issues with some smaller pharmacies.  Brewing granulated herbs also takes much less time than decocting raw herbs.  To make tea from the granulated herbs, one needs only add the ingredients of the formula to boiling water and then let it cool slightly before drinking it.

Unlike Western medications, the synergy of all the ingredients are considered more important than the effect of individual ingredients. A key to success in TCM is the treatment of each patient as an individual. The good news is that due to the fact that the herbs act synergistically at relatively low doses, there are very few side-effects with the use of Chinese herbs.
 
Herbs in TCM are used for their medicinal effects (e.g. the Chinese herbs of ru xiong and mo yao are often used to symptomatically treat pain), but they are also used according to TCM theory. Herbs are selected based on how yin or yang they are (hot or cold in nature), and even for the meridians they affect (e.g. an herb that effectively treats headaches may be paired with an herb that strongly targets the particular channel or meridian where the headache is located).
 

 
Chinese patent medicine (中成藥 or 中成药)
 
Patent medicines are a kind of herbal medicine. They are standardized herbal formulas (usually based on classical formulas from famous TCM doctors throughout history).  They are made when several herbs and other ingredients are dried and ground. Then the ingredients are mixed into a powder and formed into pills.  Traditionally the binder holding the powder together was honey, and they were usually made as small round black pills. Today they take the form of all shapes and sizes because many private companies make Chinese patent medicines.
 
While going to school in Houston, Mr. Landers became familiar with one patent herb company called "LifEnhance." This company specializes in patent medicines designed to detoxify the body from the side-effects of Western cancer treatment therapies. The leading three formulae from this company treat the low white blood cell count, the appetite problems, and the sleep disturbances that come from chemo or radiation therapy. We employ LifEnhance products here at Body Anew. If you want to know more about this company go to their website:
 

 

 

www.LifEnhance.net