Understanding Chinese Herbs: What You Need to Know


Medicinal herbs are an integral part of Classical Chinese Medicine. Herbal medicine focuses on achieving health and balance within an individual's body, and can strengthen, support and nourish the body in an effective, safe and natural way.

The use of plants and natural resources for medicinal and therapeutic purposes is an ancient form of healing. This form of healing was used in ancient civilizations including China, Egypt, Greece, Tibet, Persia and India.

The Academy for Five Element Acupuncture notes, “An estimated three-quarters of the world’s population, especially those in developing countries, rely on herbal medicine. Almost a quarter of all modern prescription drugs, including aspirin, are derived from plant sources. There is also a strong tradition of Western herb use in the United States where patients are seeking more natural sources of medicine.” The use of herbal medicine is widely used and incredible beneficial.

At Green Lake Natural Health, we only dispense herbal medicinals manufactured with the highest standards. All medicinals carried at Green Lake Natural Health have been strictly tested for the absence of pesticides, heavy metals, and/or other contaminants.

Our medicinal herbs are prescribed to suit each individual patient's current needs. We are committed to excellence when it comes to the level of care we provide for our clients.

That being said, you may be curious to know and understand more about the value of medicinal herbs. Keep reading for more about what they do and how they can help heal the body.

What Are Medicinal Herbs in Classical Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation notes an extremely wide range of substances fall into the category of Chinese herbs commonly include a diverse selection of plant parts, such as leaves, blossoms, stems and roots and occasionally incorporates minerals and prepared animal parts. Chinese medicine recognizes that everything is essentially Qi, or energy, and so unique energies that can impact the human body and energy system and benefit ones overall heath.

What to Expect in a Medicinal Chinese Herbs Consultation

The Daily Mail briefly recounted what patients often experience when going in for help with healing through Chinese herbs:

Patients will be asked about lifestyle and medical history as well as reactions to stress and temperature. A diagnosis - where a practitioner looks at the tongue and takes a pulse reading - is made to determine where the imbalances of Yin and Yang lie in our organs and which of the five elements are lacking.

If you are too cold or moist, you may be prescribed warming herbs such as ginger, cloves or cinnamon. If you are too hot, you may be prescribed Chinese peony or dandelion to help cool you down. A typical herbal formula contains at least five different herbs. Herbs are usually drunk a few times a day before or after mealtimes.

At Green Lake Natural Health, we offer herbal consultations that typically last around 30 minutes. I start with a detailed intake of your current concerns and provide an individualized herbal prescription, taking into consideration any current medications you are currently on.

Depending on your health concerns or challenges, here’s how many treatments you can expect:

  • Acute injuries with no preexisting history of injury: Typically 2 to 6 weeks depending on the severity of the injury.

  • Acute injuries with preexisting history of injury: Commonly 2 to 8 weeks, but likely closer to the 6 to 8 week mark.

  • Chronic injuries: A common rule of thumb for herbs is they are taken for 1 month for every year the injury has been present; it can be several months or longer.

  • Wellness: Maintenance formulas are usually taken as needed up to 3 months and then given a break before starting a new cycle.

You can read more about treatments for pain and illness and how many appointments you will likely need here.

What Do Chinese Medicinal Herbs Help With?

As in Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are many different aspects of the body that herbal medicine can address. Here are just a few of the ailments that herbs can help with:

  • Men’s Health Issues

  • Women’s Health Issues

  • Sciatica

  • Pain Management

  • Muscle Spasms

  • Migraines

  • Joint Pain and Issues

  • Insomnia

  • Headaches

  • Digestive Issues

  • Depression

  • Constipation

  • Asthma

  • Arthritis

  • Anxiety

  • Allergies

  • Health and Wellness

Who Can Benefit from Chinese Herbs?

Just about everyone! Chinese herbs don’t only have to be used when you are sick, in pain or have an injury. While they are largely used to address chronic and acute issues, herbs can also be used to maintain a healthy life.

Here are a few different types of people who can benefit from Chinese herbs from Dr. Axe:

  • Chinese herbs focus on helping to correct disorders of specific organs and unhealthy body patterns. The goal of herbal therapy is to bring the body back into a state of homeostasis (balance) and restore proper energy (also called Qi). You can learn more about the different channels of the body in Classical Chinese Medicine and energy in my blog post.

  • Herbal medicine can address a range of symptoms and conditions from a variety of health challenges, including but not limited to those with, “[chronic] colds or the flu, fatigue, chronic respiratory issues, infertility, allergies, chronic pain, anxiety or depression, trouble sleeping, menopausal symptoms and even people recovering from cancer or chemotherapy.”

  • “Some scenarios that make a patient a good candidate for herbal therapy include having more than one unexplained symptom, feeling fatigued on top of having other symptoms, not responding well to medications or experiencing side effects, or feeling anxious or depressed, in addition to having other symptoms.”

The Academy for Five Element Acupuncture also provided a list of those who can benefit from herbal medicine, including: