Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, uses thousands of years of knowledge of the benefits of herbs — some of which we already commonly include in our diets — to support and enhance the body’s natural healing abilities. With each passing year, more patients turn to herbal medicine, acupuncture and other aspects of TCM as a non-pharmaceutical approach to improving their health and well-being.
If you are new to TCM, you will probably have a lot of questions. You also may not know where to get information about adding the benefits of TCM to your current wellness program. The best place to start is to consult with a TCM doctor or a licensed acupuncturist who is trained and certified in Chinese herbs. After a careful and thorough diagnosis, you’ll receive a prescription for specific herbs or formulas, tailored specifically for you, that can help improve many common health concerns.
Learning more about Chinese herbs and how they are commonly used can also help guide your questions and get you started on improving your health. Whether you are just beginning to explore the option of using TCM herbal supplements, or you are an experienced herbs user looking to make more educated decisions about your wellness plan, we’ve created this guide to help you reap the maximum benefits from herbal medicine.
Common Herbs Used in TCM
Many herbs frequently found in traditional TCM formulas may already have a place in your kitchen, diet and wellness regimen. In TCM, however, these all-natural ingredients, used alone or in formulas, are specially cultivated and prepared to maximize their benefits to your body’s natural function.
Consider the powerful effects of ginger, for example. Besides enhancing meals, ginger in TCM is used to help calm nausea, vomiting and cold symptoms. Additionally, recent studies demonstrate its anti-inflammation, anti-oxidation and anti-cancer effects.
Similarly, licorice root — the root of the plant used to make candies and beverages — may help relieve coughs, sore throat, spasms and chronic pain and may even have anti-viral and anti-tumor properties. However, it is important to avoid it in cases of hypertension and some other conditions, which is an example of why you must see a trained TCM practitioner to get the right herbs and formulas for you.
Fruit forms an essential part of any healthy diet, but certain fruits, such as jujube dates, also help promote healing and wellness. Jujube dates have long been prepared in soups to use for their gastrointestinal health benefits and, more recently, their positive impact on the immune system.
Other herbs that are commonly used in TCM and that may sound very familiar to you include ginseng, turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg, fennel, dandelion, kelp and Goji berries. It’s more than likely you have half of these items in your pantry now or have tried them recently in a juice or a tea at your favorite juice bar or coffee shop.
What Other Ingredients Are Used in TCM Herbal Supplements?
The majority of ingredients used in TCM formulas are plant-based and are combinations of herbs, flowers, roots, branches, leaves and mushrooms, with ample case study evidence and growing scientific evidence supporting the intended use in TCM.
A complete list of herbs used in TCM would fill many volumes, so finding the right herbs to help improve whatever you’re experiencing would be quite difficult to do on your own. In addition, formulas, which we will talk about in a moment, can often do more for your health than a single herb alone, so speaking with a knowledgeable and experienced practitioner who is well trained in Chinese herbal medicine is the best first step.
If you’re interested in learning more about common TCM herbs, follow KPC on Instagram. We regularly share information about the herbs in our products and how they are used by practitioners.
If you are a licensed practitioner or a student studying for your NCCAOM certification, we encourage you to reach out to us about receiving a free copy of the reference book Essential Herbal Formulas.
What Makes TCM Herbal Formulas Different Than Herbs?
Formulas multiply the benefits of the herbs used. Preparing and taking the herbs in combination often enhances their overall effects and advantages, much the way certain foods prepared together may offer higher nutritional value.
Herbal formulas come from generations of observing the cause and effect and documenting the benefits of herb combinations when taken together. Several factors are considered to determine which formula will be prescribed for a patient, including their unique constitution, lifestyle, diet and pattern of symptoms. As symptoms change, so, too, does the formula prescribed. These are a few of the most common Chinese herb formulas.
You might receive prescriptions for more than one herbal formula depending on your unique circumstances. As with any prescribed medication, you should ensure you take your TCM herbs as directed by your practitioner. Be sure to ask your TCM practitioner these questions before beginning treatment.
Where Do the Raw Materials for TCM Herbs and Formulas Come From?
KPC is committed to ethical sourcing and sustainability. We work with farmers who use farming techniques that both produce higher-quality herbs and have a positive environmental impact. Our farmers also adhere to Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Good Handling Practice (GHP) guidelines defined by the USDA. We also work hard to ensure that none of our ingredients come from endangered species of any kind.
Ultimately, these practices are advantageous for all parties involved in the making and using of our products. Customers and consumers can feel confident they are receiving safe, authentic and high-quality herbs that also benefit our suppliers and local economies, as well as the environment.
How Are TCM Herbs Processed?
KPC’s herbal supplements undergo a multi-step manufacturing process that includes:
- Sourcing premium raw materials
- Species identification and authentication
- Contaminant screening
- Extraction in a decoction liquid
- Collection and restoration of essential oils
- Low-temperature concentration
- Final inspection
We invite you to learn more about our manufacturing process here. Our modern scientific processing methods and rigorous quality control allow KPC Herbs to pass strict international standards and be enjoyed safely across the world, making us truly world-class.
Are Chinese Herbal Medicines Safe?
Our advanced and thorough testing protocols play a critical role in making KPC’s herbal supplements authentic, effective and safe to consume. We maintain various certifications and comply with international standards such as cGMP guidelines and Australia’s TGA regulations. All of our raw materials are screened for exposure to heavy metals, chemical pesticides and other contaminants. Our industry-leading quality assurance program is sophisticated and stringent.
These measures and others ensure our herbs and formulas are trusted by practitioners and consumers worldwide, and have been for more than a century.
How to Use TCM Herbs
Under the guidance of your licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, you will take your TCM herbs and formulas in capsule, granule or tablet form, much like you would ordinary medications, in quantities carefully prescribed for you. Learn more about the differences between herbal granules, capsules and tablets here.
TCM herbs and formulas can help patients with a wide variety of concerns, including:
- Symptoms related to colds and flu (cough, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, etc.)
- Sleep problems
- Digestive health
- Joint pain
- Dull complexion
- PMS and fertility
- Balancing blood pressure
- Strengthening of the immune system
- Thyroid problems
- Menopause symptoms
Patients can find relief for these and many other problems through acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
The key to finding the right herbs or formulas for you is visiting a licensed acupuncturist who is trained in Chinese herbal medicine and having an open discussion of your concerns and past medical history. While side effects are rare, some herbs should be avoided under certain circumstances, for example, if you have specific allergies or hypertension, or during pregnancy. Because so many herbs with known benefits exist, your practitioner can substitute another herb or formula to help with your concern in these instances.
You Can Achieve Natural Health Now — Harnessing the Power of Your Own Body — Through TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers men and women of every age an opportunity to improve their health in the most natural way possible — by aiding their own body’s innate healing powers. These herbs and formulas do more than nourish; they support the body to enhance the healing process. Because of their potent effects on the body, patients should seek the guidance of a licensed acupuncturist or TCM physician who is certified in herbal medicine to get the full benefits of Chinese herbs and formulas safely.
A TCM practitioner can provide you with more information about the long history of TCM and, more importantly, how Chinese herbal medicine can help you feel better now. If you need assistance finding a practitioner or a distributor who carries KPC products near you, please call us at 949-398-8158.
We hope you will take some time to explore TCM in more detail, and, as always, we wish you good health!