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Chinese medicine originally consists of plant, minerals and animal products. But in the UK, the mineral and animal products are prohibited. The plants used for Chinese medicine cover whole grasses, roots, stems, leaves, flowers, bark, seeds and fruit.
Most formulas consist between 6 and 16 types of herbs to be boiled up to drink as “tea” (decoction), these are tailor made to suit the individual’s patterns of disharmony. Herbs also come in other forms such as herbal pills and powders.
In recent years with the integration of western medicine, Chinese herbs have been much tested for their safety. The growing body of research on herbal medicine is showing that, in the words of the registry of Chinese herbal medicine “… traditional uses of plant remedies and the known pharmacological activity of plant constituents often coincide.” They continue: “however, herbal medicine is distinct from medicine based on pharmaceutical drugs.”“Firstly, because of the complexity of plant materials it is far more balanced than medicine based on isolated active ingredients and is far less likely to cause side effects.”“Secondly, because herbs are typically prescribed in combination, the different components of a formulae balance each other, and they undergo a mutual synergy which increases efficacy and enhance safety.”“Thirdly, herbal medicine seeks primarily to correct internal imbalances rather than to treat symptoms alone, and therapeutic intervention is designed to encourage this self- healing process.”Even so, much research and more ‘evidence based report’ on the effectiveness of treatment through TCM have been undertaken by various bodies purely due to an increasing interest in traditional Chinese medicine, by not only the western general public, but also western conventional medical bodies and western alternative practitioners..
Most people think that Chinese medicine only has a mild action so that no harm will come to you. This is absolutely wrong! Improper use of any medicine for a long time can lead to side effects. For example, when ginseng is used in individuals with fever, skin sores or constipation, the symptoms will become worse. It’s better to seek professional TCM doctor’s advice before you take any herbal medicine.