Chinese Herbal Medicine is one discipline within a broad tradition, which also includes Acupuncture, Massage (Tuina), Dietary Therapy, and Exercise (Qigong). It is one of the great herbal traditions of the world, with a recorded history of more that two thousand years. Chinese Herbal Medicine has retained a strong presence in health provision in China today, where it is practised alongside western medicine in state hospitals throughout the country in the treatment of a wide range of conditions. More recently it has become increasingly popular in the West, and has expanded rapidly in the UK since the 1980’s.

Like the other Chinese medicine disciplines, Chinese Herbal Medicine is based on the principle that good health depends on achieving optimum vitality and balance – a balance described in terms of the polarity of Yin and Yang. Chinese Herbal Medicine has a great deal to offer in supporting that vitality and balance.

Treatment with CHM involves the use of combinations of herbs, which are designed to correct the particular disharmony of the individual. The Chinese materia medica contains several hundred commonly used ingredients, including roots, stems, flowers, leaves and barks, together with some non-plant materials. The principle is that a balance of ingredients with certain properties is matched to the individual patient’s pattern, allowing the practitioner to adapt to the changing needs of the patient.

Chinese Herbal medicine may be administered in a variety of ways. Most commonly it is prescribed either as a tea, to be made up from raw herbs or from concentrated powders, or as a ready-made formula in tablet form. External preparations are also used, including creams, ointments and washes for skin conditions, and compresses for traumatised tissue.
Chinese herbal teas tend to be bitter but most people get used to them quickly.

Further information

Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine


Isabel James