Chinese herbal materia medica includes flowers, bark, grasses, roots, bugs, and animal parts. There are over 400 commonly used herbs in standard practice. In my practice, I prefer to use only those herbs considered highest class in the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica. This ancient text was authored by Chinese Emperor Shen Nong, the most respected authority on Chinese medicine. He discovered healing properties of over 365 herbs. The information he handed down from third century BC is supported by modern pharmaceutical research.
Basis for Chinese Medical Development
Chinese herbal medicine provides the basis for corresponding systems of diagnosis and treatment. It is believed that acupuncture was developed as a way to mimic herbal actions in the body. Like acupuncture point combinations, Chinese herbal formulas work synergistically to address both simple and complex illnesses. In 600 AD, Sun Si Miao, a scientist and humanitarian, scribed the first comprehensive encyclopedia of Chinese medicine which included over 4500 formulas. Many of those formulas are still used today.
Ancient Wisdom with Modern Technology
Traditionally, Chinese herbs were only available in fresh or dried form. The herbs had to be boiled for many hours to release or reduce active ingredients. While this is still an option and the method used in traditional Chinese medical schools (California), modern advances offers alternate methods of extraction so that herbs can be prescribed as pills, tinctures, and granules. I prefer Kan Herb Company in Santa Cruz California. The company provides scientific proof that their preparation methods are in accordance with strict Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
Training and Skill
A skilled practitioner of Chinese medicine will provide thorough differential diagnosis, appropriate acupuncture, and strategically selected herbs designed to address both symptoms and etiology. The goal of traditional Chinese medical treatment, including Chinese herbal formulas and acupuncture, is resolution and prevention of illness through physical balance and emotional well-being.