The ancient cultures of the world all share a similarity: they all used plants and other naturally occurring substances as medicines. The Chinese have used the natural medicinal qualities of plants for thousands of years. To this day, lore passed down from generation to generation provides for the use of these substances in the preparation of Chinese family meals equipped to treat and prevent illness.
The Traditional Chinese medicine system incorporates the most extensive herbal pharmacopeia of substances of any culture on the planet.
Within the theory of TCM, each medicinal substance has a specific effect on the energetic systems of the body. The Property of the substance describes its ‘temperature’, or how it affects the balance of heat and cold within the body. The Flavor of the substance describes its action and directional effect on the energies of the body. Each herb is also understood to enter specific Channels within the body, thereby affecting their related internal organs. Ancient doctors of TCM, known to ingest each herb individually to measure its effect on their health, developed the science used to determine Property, Flavor, and Channel entered.
An herbal formula is designed so specifically for an individual that a good practitioner of TCM should be able to look at the formula prescribed to a patient and be able to describe in quite some detail, the symptoms experienced by the patient.
As a Registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I am licensed to prescribe these substances to my patients based on their individual set of signs and symptoms. Each prescribed formula is composed of between five and twenty different substances, specifically designed to bring the patient’s pattern of symptoms back in to balance. As the patient moves towards balance and these symptoms change, the formula is modified accordingly.
Substances used within the scope of TCM are both plant and non-plant based. In my practice, I occasionally choose a substance that is not plant based. As a rule, I will never use a substance derived by methods causing harm or suffering to the entity from which it originated, and I never use substances derived of any endangered species. Please let me know if you are vegetarian and would prefer to be prescribed only plant-based substances.