Herbal therapy, next to dietary therapy is perhaps the most widely used traditional Chinese medicine treatment modality. Acupuncture and other physical modalities (cupping/massage) are often secondary to traditional Chinese herbs. When prescribed correctly, Chinese formulas have strong therapeutic effects without disrupting the body's balance or creating other health issues since the ingredients are found in nature and are not manufactured in labs which can be taxing to the body.

Most formulas have been passed down from centuries of generations. However a trained practitioner with clinical experience is able to "modify" a known formula or create a new one to address a patient's individual constitution or symptom. Chinese herbs should only be taken under the supervision of a practitioner who is nationally certified either in Oriental medicine or Chinese herbology by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

In the U.S. many acupuncturists are also certified herbalists. One reason for this is because I China, one course of acupuncture treatment can be daily treatment for a 3 week duration. This is not practical in today's hustle and bustle society so herbs are prescribed as a supplement to acupuncture treatments. Herbs also help bring a patient whose constitution is considered "deficient" back to balance where acupuncture alone would not be able to. Acupuncture, along with an herbal prescription can do an exceptional job at helping bring the body back to homeostasis. If, for example, a patient comes in with adrenal fatigue (considered a deficiency in the kidneys in traditional Chinese medicine) as a practitioner I would use acupuncture to balance the kidney Qi and prescribed herbs like Rehmmania or He Shou Wu to build the Kidney Qi. Traditional Chinese medicine relies on herbal therapies both for treatment of illness and in the optimization of health and prevention of dis-ease. As with pharmaceuticals, it is important to avoid taking TCM herbs with coffee or tea. It is also important to follow Lily's herbal instructions meticulously.

Chinese Herbal Decoction

Most traditional methods of preparing an herbal formula in China. Decoctions involve lengthy preparation and result in "teas" known for their strong taste and aroma.

Herbal Powders

Can be mixed with hot water to create a tea. They are a lot more convenient to prepare, use and are not pungent as traditional decoctions.

Chinese Patent Formulas

Ready-made herbal formulas (usually in pill or tablet form) are the most widely used form of Chinese Herbal Medicine outside of China.


Salves, compresses and plasters are used for external application.


Liquid extracts made from herbs that are taken orally. Usually extracted in alcohol tinctures are used for their convenience and ease. Tinctures are also easier to give to children because the amount of alcohol in a tincture dose is equivalent to that of a very ripe banana. Since tinctures are supposed to be taken under the tongue they enter the bloodstream much more directly than by any other means. The reason for their convenience is because nothing needs to be brewed, like decoctions or teas, just take the tincture dose drops and you're done. You can easily take a bottle of tincture with you in your purse or briefcase to have it available at all times.

*Note: Two dropperfuls of tincture is equal to one 8 oz. cup of tea.

Can TCM Herbs Be Taken with Western Medication?

Good question! It's a yes and a no.

Chinese medicine is a comprehensive system that can address many health concerns however research has shown that some herbs have a tendency to work harmoniously with western medicine and other modalities. There are herbs that are known to interact with SSRI's (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). This is why it is imperative that the patient provides any and all medications as well as supplements they are taking when they are filling the intake form to avoid any negative interations.