COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CHINESE HERBS

1. Why Use Chinese Herbs Rather Than Western Herbs?

There are valuable herbs growing everywhere in the world. Selecting the most useful plants, determining which plant parts ought to be used, and deciding the correct method of using them is the task herbalist must tackle. In China, unlike other parts of the world, herbalists have sought out special tonic herbs that can be taken daily for improvement of physical condition, enhancement of energy, increase in resistance to disease and prolongation of life. These herbs especially distinguish Chinese herbs form others.

The term "Western herbs" really applies to a method of the herbs rather than the origin of the herbs. For example, Western herb book often list Asian herbs such as gotu kola, ginger, licorice, and dong Gui (tang kuei); African herbs; such as capsicum and devil's claw, South American herbs, such as Pau d'Arco and Damania; Egyptian herbs, such as chamomile and myrrh, and so on. Herbs are used according to their reputed health benefits without necessarily referring to a complex syndrome to be treated or to an integration herbal properties within a formula

2. Shouldn't I Use Herbs That Grow In My Local Area?

It has been proposed that the disease one suffers are determines, in part by the environment in which a person lives. Similarly, it has been proposed that medicinal ingredients in herbs vary according to the environment in which a plant grows. Finally, it has been suggested that there is a correspondence between the herbal effects from plants in a particular environment and the disease that arise in the same environment.

Even if all three of the propositions are generally true, the modern situation does not correspond to the basic theory. Nearly everyone lives in a temperature controlled environment, with artificial lighting, and regularly consumes foods grown in another environment. Further, many of today's diseases are a result of exposure to synthetic chemicals, which are independent of the environment, and stresses of modern society, which are everywhere nearly the same. Herbalist around the world rely on herb from a wide range of sources. Even in China, an herbalist may prefer using material collected thousands of miles away, even when the same plant grows locally, if the quality notably better.

3. Are Chinese Herbs Grown with Pesticides?

Some Chinese herbs are collected from the wild, some are grown without pesticides, and some are grown with pesticides. Fortunately, most Chinese herbs are derived from roots, three barks and seeds that are not exposed to the pesticides directly (soil bacterial generally degrade pesticides before they can be taken up by the roots). Further, many herbs are carefully washed and processed before they go to market and thus have any residues washed off. Finally, the amount of the herbs which consumed is relatively small, so the potential for exposure is much less than with ordinary foods.

4. Are Chinese Herbs Fumigated At the Ports?

Because of the special processing and packaging of Chinese Herbs, they are not fumigated the ports. In contract, some Western herbs are fumigated. Chinese herbs have clean appearance, are relatively low in bacterial count (compared to common foods and many Western herbs), and retain a bright color and strong smell indicating their freshness. If stores incorrectly, however, the crude materials are subjects to attack by insects. Therefore, Chinese herb shops must have their inventory of crude herbs checked regularly, and an infested article is promptly removed.

5. I Read About A Chinese Herb That I Want To Try But I Can't Find A Supplier. Where Do I Get It?

Unlike Western herbs, Chinese herbs almost are used in carefully prepared combinations. Therefore, unless you are a specialist in Chinese herbs, you may not be able t find the individual ingredients. Instead, you will use the combination products. These products are available through numerous sources, including prescription given out by health professionals (acupuncturist and others trained in the use of Chinese herb formulas), health food products sold in stores, and some products marketed by individuals.

6. How Are Chinese Formula Composed?

The herbalist first determines a type of disorder that many people suffer from or a widely desired herbal effect. Use expert knowledge of herbs and their influences, certain useful ingredients are selected. Then, with an understanding of how different herbs work together in a prescription, the total formula is compounded. It is not unusual for a Chinese herbal formula to have more than 10 herbs, but hey are never randomly combined.

7.What is The Best Way To Take Chinese Herbs?

Traditionally, Chinese herbs were often taken either in decoction (a tea made by simmering for at least 45 minutes) or as a coarse powder (sometimes made into pills, other times steeped in boiled water). These methods were the best that could be done in more primitive times. Today, more scientific methods of preparation are available. The preferred methods are to make a decoction under controlled conditions and then dry it to make a concentrate, or to finely powder herbs and make them into tablets.

Concentrated extracts made from the decoctions have the advantage of freeing the consumer from the lengthy process of making the decoction and room the unpleasant task of drinking the strong tasting tea. The tabulated powder made with modern equipment released most of their active constituents readily and provide a convenient way to obtain certain herbal effects. The choice between concentrated extracts and powders depends upon the prescription. In some cases, making the decoction first is important and in other cases, decocting is not appropriate.

8. Are there Any Side Effects From Taking Chinese Herbs?

Chemical drugs often have side effects because they affect the whole body in a particular way, even when the intended use is the affect only part of the body. With herbs, the intention is to affect the whole body. A single herbs has some potential for causing side-effects because it may have a particular kind of action on the whole body and is not desired. However, an herbal formula carefully designed rarely has side effects because its influence on different part of the body are balanced by the other herbs and thus each part of the body receives the desired type of effects.

Nonetheless, there can be some mild adverse reaction to herbal formulas. The most common reaction to herbal formulas. The most common reaction is a gastrointestinal disturbance since the full dose of the herbs enters the stomach and intestines. If a reaction occurs, it can be prevented almost always by taking the herbs after meal (rather than before, as is usually recommended). A few people may experience dizziness, rash , or nervousness from taking the herbs and this usually indicates that the formula is not adequately balanced or their needs. In such cases, another formula should be tried or the formulation should be adjusted. In all cases, any reaction to the herbs will disperse shortly after their use has stopped.

9. Are Chinese Herbs Safe to Use During Pregnancy and Breast Feeding?

Generally speaking, Chinese herb formulas provided to the public in prepared form are safe to use during pregnancy and breast feeding. Formulas containing certain herbs such as rhubarb, cardamoms, and persica should usually be avoided during pregnancy, and formulas containing rhubarb, senna, or aloe should usually be avoided during breast feeding. Consult a health professional with specific questions.

10. Aren't Chinese Herbs Quite Expensive?

The price of Chinese herbs varies greatly. but the tonic herbs, which are the most important and unique feature of this herbal system, tend to be expensive. Since such ingredients are included in most of the formulations, the product price may be relatively high. However, they are very cost effective. For an investment of approximately $1.00 per day, the average consumer can obtain many benefits. Compare this with the amount most people are willing to spend on unhealthy practices (such as cigarette smoking) and it is easily seen that Chinese herbs are not expensive.