How to take Chinese herbs

Here are some instructions on how to take Chinese herbs.

Chinese herbal medicine formulas are prescribed to be prepared in a number of ways. There are raw herbs, granular herbs, powders, teas, capsules and pills.

Raw Herbs

A Tang is a  formula that translates devotion or soup and is taken as a tea. For example the formula Ba Zhen Tang used to tonify the Qi and blood. To prepare a Tang raw Chinese herbs are added to a special herbal medicine clay pot along with cups of water. The mixture is then boiled over a flame for a prescribed amount of time. The resulting liquid is collected and more water added, after that the process is repeated two times. The liquid is then combined and is taken warm a number of times day. The preparation of Chinese herbs takes time, care and attention and this itself can be a meditative ritual for some people. For others it can be frustrating and time consuming and for this reason herbal medicine is now more commonly available as a granule.

Chinese herbal medicine pot

Granular herbs

Granular herbal medicine is prepared using the Tang method but in a commercial quality.  Granule herbs are manufactured by taking raw herbal material  and preparing the herbs according to the desired effect, this is known as Pao Zhi. Examples of Pao Zhi are dry frying such or frying with honey such as  Zhi Gan Cao, which is honey fried liquorice. The herbs are then cooked in a extractor at a specific temperature for a specific time. You can learn more about this process from one of the herbal medicine manufacturers that we make prescriptions from in the clinic,  KPC herbs.

Granulated Pouring Chinese herbal medicine

Instructions for granules

When consuming herbs it is best to take them two hours away from medication to minimise a potential interaction. It is also recommended that herbs are taken thirty minutes away form food. These steps allow the body to process the herbs efficiently and therefore provide the best therapeutic effect.

Some granules will dissolve easily in boiling water. Others will not and you will be left with a residue. Here are a few ways to prepare your granule herbs.

For herbs that dissolve well add 2 teaspoons of granules to 1 cup of boiling water. Stir to dissolve and drink warm. Do this process three times per day. The prescribed dose in this example is 2 teaspoons of granules 3 daily. This is therefore equivalent to 6 teaspoons of granules per day.

For herbs that don’t dissolve well mix 6 teaspoons of  herbal powder with 300ml of boiling water. Let this mix sit overnight. In the morning strain the liquid. Measure 100ml of liquid then add 100ml of boiling water to drink warm. In this example the prescribed dose is the same 2 teaspoons of granules 3 daily. This is equivalent to 6 teaspoons of granules per day.

Chinese herbal pills

Wan formula translates as pill. For example Xiao Yao Wan. Many manufacturers create these herbs as small black balls. The dose of  these herbs as an example is 8-15 pills 3 x per day. Traditionally pills were made of crushed raw herbs prepared as a powder and rolled with honey.

Chinese herbal pills

Chinese herbal capsules

Capsules are a used to aid continuity of treatment because they are so easy to take. This modern form of herbal medicine is an encapsulated Chinese granular herbal extract. The dosage for capsules is regular 3 capsules twice daily.

Chinese herbal capsules

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Shura Ford in the Media


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