Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicineChinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been used as a form of treatment for a multitude of ailments ranging from acute infections to chronic fatigue. Traditional Chinese herbal medicine consists of some 6,000 substances derived from plant, animal and mineral sources, each with its own unique property and specific effect on the body. Herbs are viewed in terms of their properties (cold, cool, warm, hot, or neutral), flavours (pungent, sweet, sour, bitter, or salty) and the respective organs they affect (eg liver, spleen, and kidney).

Over the past 5,000 years, Chinese herbal medicine has evolved into an art form of its own. Ancient herbal information was gathered, complied, formulated, tested, and handed down from generation to generation. Today, practitioners of Chinese medicine continue to prescribe herbal formulas because they are a powerful therapeutic method. The prescribing of Chinese herbal medicine is based upon individual pattern differentiation using “four techniques diagnosis” including pulse and tongue.

Individual herbs are combined to form a formula to increase the benefits of particular actions, and minimise any harmful side effects.

In order to create the most effective formula, the herbs are used in different quantities and for different purposes. This allows the herbalist to create a formula aimed at addressing individual needs. Within each formula exists a specific hierarchy of herbs:

  1. Chief (Jun)herb – has the greatest effect upon the principle problem and is the most important ingredient. It is the energetic and therapeutic focus of the entire formula.
  2. Adjuvant (Chen) herbs – strengthen the curative action of the chief herb. These herbs usually address secondary signs and symptoms.
  3. Assistant (Zuo) herbs – The role of assistant herbs is to support and reinforce the effects of other herbs. They also help moderate or eliminate any harsh properties of herbs within the formula.
  4. Guiding (Shi) herbs – harmonise, guide and focus the action of the entire formula on certain meridians or areas of the body.

Chinese herbal formulas combined this way offer specific synergistic actions and effects upon body and mind.

The art and skill of creating a formula lies within choosing the precise and most effective herbs that target an individual’s disharmony. It is important to work with a qualified herbalist who can prescribe the correct formula, monitor progress and adjust it as needed.

In our clinic, the herbal prescription is based upon individual pattern differentiation and specific herbs are chosen to form a complex herbal formula which has been testified to be effective in the long history of TCM practice. The herbal prescription in our clinic are available in the form of: raw herbs, granules extracts, tablets/capsules, tinctures, or lotions/creams.

How is Chinese herbal medicine different?

Chinese herbal medicine takes a holistic approach to disease and prophylactic care and focuses as much on the prevention of illness as the treatment of it.

Most diseases or illnesses present with a core set of recognisable signs and symptoms, but the actual presentation of a particular disease or illness may vary from person to person. For this reason, people with similar health conditions may be provided with quite different Chinese herbal medicine prescriptions.

A qualified practitioner will prescribe a Chinese herbal formula specifically formulated for your own condition. The formula is also adjusted and modified during the recovery period until the desired health outcome is achieved.

What substances are used in Chinese herbal medicine?

There are more than 450 substances commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine – most are of plant origin though some animal and mineral substances may also be used. You may find some in your kitchen, such as ginger, garlic and cinnamon, while others such as chrysanthemum and peony flowers, are more likely to be found in your garden.

Some substances that were used traditionally are no longer part of modern professional Chinese herbal medicine practice. For example, traditional remedies with extracts of endangered species have been replaced by other substances with similar actions. We support and adhere to the CITES list of endangered species.

Source: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd


Acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner Dr. Rayman Wu (CM)

Melbourne acupuncturist & Chinese herbalist Dr. Rayman Wu is a fully qualified acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner. He is registered with the AHPRA, and he is an accredited member of the Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) as well as accredited member of the Federation of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Societies of Australia (FCMA). Call 03 8839  0748 or make online appointment to see how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you.