Chinese Herbal Remedy: "Gift of Heaven and Earth "
Chinese herbal medicine is easily the the most highly evolved medical system in the world. Its immense scale of experience spans countless trillions of administrations over thousands of years.
Over 10,000 natural substances are catalogued in Chinese herbal pharmacopia.
These substances, refered to as "herbs", consists of thousands of plant
species from all over the world as well as both mineral and animal
materials. Chinese herbs are most often taken in formulae (combinations of
herbs) rather than singly. By combining herbs, synergies have been
discovered that vastly increase the medicinal effects. Blending herbs in
this way also allows the herbologist to neutralize unwanted side-effects.
These blends (formulas) consist of principal herbs, assisting herbs,
directional herbs, and herbs that reduce the side effects, or aid the
digestion of a particular herb. Herbs can be ingested as boiled teas called
decoctions (tang), milled powders (san), pills (pian),
tablets (wan), granulated or tinctured extracts, or draughts (steeped
like tea). Topically, herbs are used in poultices, plasters, soaks,
ointments, washes, and fumigants (burning herbs).
The potent odors and flavors of Chinese herbs are legendary. Boiling the herbs and drinking the tea will provide the fullest experience of these medicines. Commonly, Chinese herbs are boiled for 20 - 40 minutes, the dregs are strained out and the "tea" is taken warm or at room temperature. Boiling times are averaged according to the composition of the formula. Flower and leaf will yield medicine in 10-20 minutes. Roots take 20 to 40 minutes; Shells and minerals must cook for at least one hour. A few herbs, like mint or tangerine peel, must be quick-boiled 3-5 minutes lest they loose their valuable volitile oils. These are added seperately to the boiling mixture just before completion.
The Chinese invented the pill. Chinese doctors were prescribing pills in the twelfth century, much as we do today. Ancient formulas were often prepared as pills made from milled herbs bound with water, honey, ginger juice, or other substances.
Theraputic dosages of powders or pills range between 3 - 10 grams daily. That's usually three to thirty pills, two or three times a day. That may seem like a lot of pills to take. But it's really only a few grams of herb powder. Our body perceives, and responds to herbal medicine as it does to food, not as it does to a hyper-concentrated chemical. Herbs are like vegetables, very powerful vegetables.