Chinese Herbs

What are Chinese Herbs?

The use of Chinese herbs is based on the idea of  living in harmony with the nature. And knowledge of the healing power of  Chinese herbs has been passed down in China from generation to generation for thousands of years.

Nowadays, knowledge of the healing powers of Chinese herbs has been gradually spreading to Western countries. Chinese herbs are now experiencing a rapid increase in usage and popularity. Health-conscious people are concerned about the concentration of synthetic chemicals in Western diets, medicines, and the general environment. Chinese herbs are being welcomed by progressive Western people who are seeking natural, healthy and balanced alternative remedies.

Traditional Chinese medicine is very different from the Western scientific approach that the Westerners are accustomed to. Chinese medical experts focus on keeping a healthy balance of energy in the body and spirit. When energy levels are off-balance, health problems arise. Chinese herbs are used both alone and  in combination with other herbs in the form of Chinese formulas to help realign an individual’s balance in order to improve overall well-being.

Chinese herbs include hundreds of popular organic ingredients that work in harmony to produce the desired effects in a person’s body. These ingredients are primarily of plant origin, and may include roots, bark, seeds, flowers and leaves. Each organic ingredient typically has its unique healing effects.

In America, Chinese herbs are offered in pre-mixed pill, tablet, extract, liquid, tea or raw form and should be manufactured by world-class laboratories under the strictest GMP standards to address common health and nutritional concerns. The licensed acupuncturist knowledgeable in Chinese herbs can give the patients proper diagnosis and decide which products may be useful and appropriate for him/her.

How are Chinese herbal medicines made?

According to the requirements of U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, dietary supplements from plant sources are sometimes referred to as “phytopharmaceuticals.” They are produced from fresh, dried or otherwise preserved plants or parts of plants.

Most of the plants used for dietary supplements or medicinal purposes are cultivated, that is, grown on farms. Some, however, may be collected from the wild (Wijesekera, 1991). Cultivation allows producers to have more control over quality and purity than does collecting plants from the wild. One advantage to using wild plants, however, is that they are unlikely to contain any pesticide residues (Wijesekera, 1991).

After the plants are harvested or gathered, they must be cleaned. Cleaning may involve screening, washing, peeling, or stripping leaves from stems. Any unnecessary parts are removed prior to drying to avoid wasting time and energy. Cleaning is often done by hand (Hornok, 1992).

In some cases, botanicals are used for extraction while fresh, but generally, they are dried first. The purpose of drying is to reduce the water content so that the plant can be stored. Plants can be dried naturally or by a number of artificial methods. The type of plant or plant parts being used will determine the appropriate drying technique (List and Schmidt, 1989).

Once drying is complete, plants are packaged in preparation for shipping and further processing. When the packaged plants arrive at the processing facility, processors open the packages, clean the dried plants to remove as many impurities as possible, and then sort the plant pieces by size, because different end-uses require different particle sizes. (List and Schmidt, 1989). Some plant materials are packaged and sold at this point without any additional processing. Some proceed through an extraction process.

Extraction is a process whereby the desired constituents of a plant are removed using a solvent. Once an extract has been produced, producers can use a number of tests to evaluate the quality and purity of their product.

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 Basic Profiles of  the Various Chinese Medicinal Herbs 

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