Natural medicine has become more and more popular, and one of the most extensive options comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM). With over 3000 years of documented history, TCM has natural and plant-based medicines for just about every presentation of disease we can come up with.
If you are interested in taking Chinese Herbs, you should consult with a trained practitioner. This is important because many formulas have only minor differentiations, and taking the wrong one could actually make things worse. That said, someone experienced with Chinese herbal formulas should know the difference and can make the proper recommendations.
Once you have your prescription, there are three main versions of Chinese herbs.
Often, Chinese herbal medicine is depicted as coming from a small shop in the middle of china town, where the old (or ancient) shop keeper will wrap a bunch of plants in newspaper and give it to the customer.
This isn’t totally far off from reality and does still exist in bigger cities. However, it is now more common for natural health clinics to prepare herbal concoctions in a room specifically designed to be an apothecary.
Raw herbs are best used for acute and severe conditions. This is because they often have the strongest effect, and can quickly make an impact. The downsides of raw herbs, however, is that preparation can be intensive, and the taste is often not very pleasant.
Granules, or granular herbs, are prepared and condensed before being dehydrated into a powdered form. They are very effective for all types of conditions, acute & chronic, and are second in strength and effectiveness.
Granules have the benefit of being easier to prepare, typically requiring only to be mixed with warm water before consumption. A good quality granular herb does retain most of the taste of the raw herb, and is therefore still not necessarily going to taste all that pleasant.
Patent pills are pre-made formulas already condensed into pill form. Many are sugar-coated, and the taste is much less intense. They also have the best patient compliance in the USA, as they are in line with cultural norms (pill form medications), and easy to carry.
The downside to patent pills is that they are not customizable to individual patients, and function more as a one-size-fits-all philosophy. This makes them effective for acute illnesses and very typical presentations of disease.