Chinese herbs on shelf

HERBAL MEDICINE APOTHECARY | Charleston & Mt. Pleasant, SC

Complementing your acupuncture treatment or used on its own, herbal medicine provides a way to improve your health on a daily basis. Formulas are selected based on the patterns of disharmony you present. Herbs not only address specific symptoms but correct imbalances that could otherwise create longstanding issues. We offer herbs in granule and pill form. Granules, a powder form you mix in hot water, can be customized specifically for you. Taking herbs is truly an investment in your health!

There are many factors that come into play when making a custom chinese herbal formula. Rather than using single herbs (as is more common in western herbalism), chinese herbalism focuses on formulas that combine several herbs. Unlike western pharmaceuticals, it is not the prescription of one drug for one disease.

Students of chinese herbal medicine begin by learning how the general properties of herbs can influence the body. The general properties of a single herb include the temperature and flavor of the herbs. Time is then spent learning individual herbal substances that range from leaves, twigs, roots, animal products, food grade herbs, bark, flowers, et cetera and how they act and function in the body. These herbs are categorized by the actions they take in the body.

Next, your herbalist learns formulas that have been used and evolved over the past 2,000 years. The formulas are also categorized by their functions and are made up of a specific combination of herbs to treat certain diagnosed patterns. Each formula can be modified specifically to your constitution and condition. The use of different herbs together to help harmonize your body is the best way to help internal conditions as well as those that are chronic. Two patients can be evaluated by the same herbalist and have the same western medical diagnosis but have different Chinese medicine patterns and be given two different formulas, as the patients’ constitutions may differ.

The beauty of chinese medicine is to be able to listen to your unique body and give you a tailored custom medicinal. Unlike single substance pharmaceutical drugs, herbs are not a singled out active chemical component; they use a whole substance, which helps to prevent unwanted side effects and bring the body back to homeostasis. A good example of how western and eastern medicine differs is to compare diuretics. In western medicine, diuretics are given for high blood pressure and heart disease to remove excess fluid from the body. In chinese herbal therapy, diuretics are also used. While some do remove fluid through urination as in western medicine, the goal is to redistribute the fluid to the appropriate areas, to not cause dryness or other negative effects. Chinese medicine herbalists are highly trained on herbal contraindications and reactions with pharmaceuticals to give you the best care possible and are always willing to talk to you further about herbal medicine and its benefits.

__________________________ Is taking herbs like drinking tea? 
There are a few options when seeking out chinese herbal medicine, it is up to your practitioner to decide what is the most appropriate for your condition. Below are the differences between the ways herbs can be prepared and taken. There are four ways one can take herbal medicine internally.

  • Nutrition: Many herbs are food grade, and what you eat is key in healing your body.
  • Pills: This form is easy to use and convenient. We carry brands that we have found to be very effective, most of which still offer you a slight taste of the herbs, which helps the herbs do their job. The flavors of herbs contribute significantly to their functions and directionality.
  • Granules: Granules are a popular option because they are easy to consume and digest while allowing your practitioner the option to create customized formulas or modify classical ones. Granules are pre-decocted herbs that are then mixed with a binder to form a powder [granule] which can then be mixed together with other herbal granules to create highly personalized formulas. The powder is then added to hot water to drink. Although slightly more time consuming to take than the pills, granules can provide faster and stronger results. Their tend to taste earthy. Some, depending on their function, may taste sour, bitter, spicy, bland or sweet.
  • Raw: Raw herbal teas, or “soups”, require a lengthy cooking at home and are a potent way to consume herbs and effect change. Raw herbs are added to a formula by weight, cooked together in water, and then strained before drinking. We do not use raw herbs as often due to their more time-consuming cooking (and flavor that has been described as “dragon drool”), but we do on occasion as they are a lovely way to connect with the herbs, engage one’s senses, create ritual, and strongly improve one’s health.