While acupuncture works through the body’s meridians, Chinese herbs are more substantial. Throughout the centuries herbalists realized various plants, animals and minerals affected the body in different ways. Practitioners mixed herbs according to their properties, adding a little of this and a dash of that until the fundamental, balanced formulas of Traditional Chinese Medicine were developed.
Unlike Western pharmaceuticals, Chinese herbs are processed in their whole form. They are not split into their component parts, and mixed in various proportions with other chemicals. While various types of processing affect each herb differently, the herbs themselves maintain their balanced integrity throughout the process. So, the formulas have balanced ingredients and, when mixed in proper proportions, are themselves balanced to maximize their intended effects and minimize side effects.
Chinese herbal formulas include food, teas, elixirs, liniments, powders, capsules, tea pills, and ointments.