ABOUT HERBAL MEDICINE
Herbal medicine has traditionally been used by native cultures all over the world to maintain health and treat illnesses, and has since evolved into a sophisticated system of diagnosis and medicine. Today, herbal medicine is perhaps the most widely used holistic treatment modality, effective for both treatment and prevention of disease.
Herbal medicines include a variety of herbs, such as astragalus, ginkgo, ginseng, licorice, schisandra, peony, etc., either singularly or in different combinations, to treat illness. Western herbs are often prescribed singularly, while Asian herbs are used in multiple herb combinations and are tailored to the individual based on their specific pattern diagnosis. Herbal formulas can help prevent and treat a vast number of ailments and diseases, including colds & flu, sore throat, breathing disorders, hormonal imbalances, among many other conditions.
Recent studies have shown many herbs to contain antiviral and antibacterial properties. The efficacy of herbs has been so firmly established that modern drugs have been developed from these herbs. For example, treatments for asthma and hay fever have been derived from Chinese ephedra, hepatitis remedies from schizandra fruits and licorice roots, and a number of anticancer agents from trees and shrubs. Many patent medicinal formulations have also been developed for conditions such as irregular menstruation, sore throat, and early stages of the common cold.
Herbal formulas are typically prepared in one of several different ways:
Decoctions: Raw herbs are cooked in water, resulting in teas. This is the most traditional method of preparing an herbal formula in Asia. Because decoctions involve lengthy preparation and often have a strong taste and aroma, they are less commonly used outside of Asia.
Granules/Powders: Pre-made herbal extracts processed into powder form. Granules are mixed with hot water and taken as a tea. These are more convenient to prepare and use than traditional decoctions.
Patent Formulas: Pre-made herbal formulations in pill or tablet form. These are the most widely used form of herbal medicine outside of Asia.
Syrups: Soothing preparations of herbs for coughs and sore throat, often in a honey base. Syrups are a convenient way to administer herbal formulations to children.
Liniments, salves, compresses and plasters: These are herbal blends used for external application.
Herbal medicines are very safe and mostly free of side effects when prescribed by a well-trained, professional herbalist. Herbal formulas are generally safer than many pharmaceutical counterparts and over-the-counter drugs.