How Chinese Herbs are Prepared

Chinese herbal remedies have been used for centuries for many conditions and to boost overall health.   For many conditions the combination of acupuncture and herbs is the most effective approach.  I almost always use herbs when treating acne, eczemapsoriasis, and other skin conditions.

The current Chinese pharmacopeia contains more than 5000 herbs and medicinal products.  A pharmacy will most often contain 500-1000 of the most commonly used herbs.  Some of the herbs are only used in the region they are grown and are not easy to find elsewhere.

Chinese herbs are most often combined into formulas rather than given as a single herb.  This approach produces synergy, the combination is more powerful than any one herb. The herbs are combined and specifically tailored to your imbalance.

Chinese herbs are holistic, that is they target the underlying imbalance as well as the symptoms, herbs can address many conditions at the same time.

There are many ways to take Chinese herbs.

sheng di huang and ku shen scaled 1
sheng di huang and dan shen

Raw Herbs: 

The most traditional way, and the most potent for certain conditions, are raw herbs.   Raw herbs are generally dried herbs.

The are prepared by boiling in water to make a very strong tea.  The herbal dregs are discarded and the tea is drank.  The herbs should be cooked in a ceramic herb pot or a glass pot.  Metal pots, even stainless steel, should be avoided.

Many herbal pharmacies have pressure cooking machines that can prepare the herbs for you.  The tea is then vacuum packed into a small bag.

Raw herbs are very potent.  I believe they are the strongest form of herbs.  I most often use raw herbs for skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Herbal Pills 1
Chinese herbal pills

Pills or Capsules

Herbal pills are possibly the most common way to take herbs.   This is also a traditional method, as many formulas were designed to be made into honey pills.  Honey pills consist of ground herbs which are binded together with honey.

I find prepared herbs very effective for many chronic health concerns such as anxiety, insomnia, and allergies.  They are very easy to take and easy to store.  They may not be strong enough for certain women’s health or skin conditions.

Tincture 1
Herbal tincture


Tinctures are alcohol extracts of herbal formulas.  That is, the herbal formula is boiled down to make a very concentrated tea.  A small amount of alcohol is added as a preservative.  They are very easy to use, quite effective, and affordable.

Granules or Powders

Granules are concentrated boiled herbs.  The herbal formulas are boiled down and the liquid is concentrated.  Mix this powder with warm water to reconstitute the herbs.    Sometimes the herbs are also encapsulated for pills.

Joseph Alban

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.

Joseph Alban is a Doctor of Acupuncture, New York Licensed Acupuncturist, and NCCAOM Board Certified Herbalist providing the highest quality Acupuncture and Chinese medicine care tailored to your needs.

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