Denver's Primary Care Medical Practice & Integrative Health Center

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbs are an important aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  The history of Chinese herbs dates back even farther than the development of acupuncture.  Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are complementary therapeutic modalities that are often combined together to treat a variety of medical complaints.  Many modern drugs have been developed from the herbs such as treatments for asthma, hepatitis and anti-cancer agents.

Chinese herbs actually come from seven different sources and include more than 6,000 substances: trees and shrubs, weeds and grasses, fruits and seeds, sea materials, roots and rhizomes, minerals and animals (often used for debilitating or deadly diseases).  A full range of medical conditions can be treated ranging from acute conditions such as cold and flu, and chronic health conditions like women’s health including infertility and degenerative diseases.  Herbal formulas work in promoting the body’s own ability to heal itself, treating both symptoms (branch) and the underlying cause (root).

Herbal formulas general contain from 6 to 18 substances that work synergistically together.  In general herbs work slower and more gently than western drugs with side effects seldom occurring.  In some instances for acute conditions herbs can work within minutes or hours. 

Herbs generally are prescribed in two forms:

  • Raw or bulk herbs which are boiled into a decoction or tea to drink 2 to 3 times per day.  Also, precooked and extracted herbs, similar to raw herbs but it is in
    tablet or pill form. 
  • Chinese herbs are prescribed in formulas designed to treat a person’s individualized pattern diagnosis, taking into account symptoms, constitution, physical, mental and spiritual well-being.  As patient’s patterns change, so do the formulas.  TCM practitioners are well trained and have to pass a National Board exam to be certified in Chinese Herbology or Oriental Medicine.