Saylor Wellness




This is the question that comes up most often.

Yes, they work. Herbs are very similar in their action to pharmaceutical drugs. They both work chemically in the body due to their chemical make up.

Most drugs are derivatives of herbs that the active ingredient is then synthetically reproduced in a lab to create a synthetic product that is patented.

Some examples of does natural work:

  • marijuana
  • cocaine
  • heroin
  • Natural opiates: alkaloids contained in the resin of the opium poppy, primarily morphine, codeine, and thebaine, The following natural substances could be considered natural opiates: The leaves from Mitragyna speciosa (also known as Kratom) contain a few naturally-occurring opioids, active via Mu- and Delta receptors. Salvinorin A, found naturally in the Salvia divinorum plant, is a kappa-opioid receptor agonist.
  • Semi-synthetic opioids: created from the natural opiates, such as hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, desomorphine, nicomorphine, dipropanoylmorphine, benzylmorphine and ethylmorphine and buprenorphine;
  • Endogenous opioid peptides, produced naturally in the body, such as endorphins, enkephalins, dynorphins, and endomorphins. We use substances to stimulate these in the body
  • willow bark = aspirin
  • foxglove = digitalis

So, again yes, medical herbs work when properly prepared and prescribed but, without the usual side-effects when prescribed and used correctly. But remember, medical herbs are different than those you by at the health food store.

Let me encourage you to see a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor for best results and safety. They are trained in medical herbs much the same as a pharmacist in pharmaceutical drugs. They know chemical make up, what the herbs does, what it will mix with and what it will not. The are also able to make a correct diagnosis based on TCM to correctly use the correct formula.

Medicinal Herbs

The herbs we are talking about are different than what you find at the store.  These are herbs combined in formulas to cause a specific action in the body much as a drug would but without the same side-effect risk when prescribed by a trained physician.

If used incorrectly these herbs can worsen or create a new health problem as well as interact with medications.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors are trained in the correct and safe use of medical herbs.  Everyone practicing Acupuncture or Chinese medicine is not trained in medical herbs.  Find a doctor trained in (TCM).

Medicinal herbs are among our oldest medicines and their increasing use in recent years is evidence of public interest in alternatives to conventional medicine. The use of herbal medicines and other dietary supplements has increased substantially since passage of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and ducation Act.  Herbal medicines are a major market in U.S. pharmacies and constitute a multi-billion dollar industry.  Although approximately 1500 botanicals are sold as dietary supplements or ethnic traditional medicines, herbal formulations are not subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pre-market toxicity testing to assure their safety or efficacy.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese materia medica, is the medicine based on traditional Chinese medicine theory. It includes Chinese crude medicine, prepared drug in slices of Chinese materia medica, traditional Chinese patent medicines and simple preparations, etc.

Herbology is one of the more important modalities utilized in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Each herbal medicine prescription is a cocktail of many herbs tailored to the individual patient. One batch of herbs is typically decocted twice over the course of one hour. The practitioner usually designs a remedy using one or two main ingredients that target the illness. Then the practitioner adds many other ingredients to adjust the formula to the patient's yin/yang conditions. Sometimes, ingredients are needed as it is believed that it will cancel out toxicity or side-effects of the main ingredients. Some herbs require the use of other ingredients as catalyst or else the brew is considered to be ineffective. The latter steps require great experience and knowledge, and make the difference between what is accepted as a good Chinese herbal doctor and an amateur. Unlike western medications, the balance and interaction of all the ingredients are considered more important than the effect of individual ingredients. A key to success in TCM is the treatment of each patient as an individual.

Chinese herbology often incorporates ingredients from all parts of plants, such as the leaf, stem, flower, root, and also ingredients from animals and minerals. The use of parts of endangered species once used is illegal today and are not used by reputable pharmaceutical companies.

Another difference between Chinese herbology and other traditional medical systems is its considerable use of marine products.

Chinese herbs are prepared in a number of ways. Raw herbs can be boiled and taken as a tea or decoction. Prepared Chinese herbs are sold as pills, tablets and capsules. Another preparation method is the extract form or tinctures in which small doses are taken from a dropper. In one type of preparation herbs are applied via a plaster, usually for pain.

History of Chinese Herbology

Chinese herbs have been used for centuries. The first Chinese manual on pharmacology, the Shennong Bencao Jing(Shennong Emperor's Classic of Materia Medica), lists some 365 medicines of which 252 of them are herbs, and dates back somewhere in the 1st century CE Han dynasty. Earlier literature included lists of prescriptions for specific ailments, exemplified by a manuscript "Recipes for 52 Ailments", found in the Mawangdui tomb, sealed in 168 BCE!

Succeeding generations augmented on this work, as in the Yaoxing Lun; literally "Treatise on the Nature of Medicinal Herbs"), a 7th century Tang Dynasty Chinese treatise on herbal medicine.

Chinese patent medicine is the most common medical herbs prescribed. They are standardized herbal formulas. Teapills are characteristically little round black pills.

Chinese patent medicines are easy and convenient. These formulas are often combined by a trained Doctor of Oriental Medicine (D.O.M.) to customize on a patient-by-patient basis.

In China, all Chinese patent medicines are manufactured in accordance with the PRC Pharmacopoeia, which is mandated by law.

Herbs in use

The use of Chinese herbs is a very popular tradition. There are over three hundred herbs that are commonly being used today that have a history that goes back at least 2,000 years.

Many Chinese herbs have also be made into pharmaceutical drugs.