How Your Chinese Herbal Formula Is Chosen

     When I was fulfilling my internship in Beijing, China, I studied at the Sino-Friendship Hospital, a Western facility that had 2 complete pharmacies – a full herbal pharmacy and another one for prescription drugs that you might find here in the United States. It is difficult to imagine an herbal pharmacy in a U.S. hospital but it is common in China. In fact, herbal pharmacies, local shops, and traditional remedies are widespread, popular, and integral to the culture.
    There are thousands of traditional Chinese herbal formulas and each one is prepared using a careful balance of herbs. Your licensed Chinese Medicine practitioner selects the formula best suited to you and it may have as many as 20 different herbs, unlike Western herbal medicine which tends to use one or two herbs to treat a specific symptom. Chinese Medicine formulas are chosen for you based on your unique symptoms and medical history. As an example, let’s take an illness like the common cold. Most people believe that one cold is not much different from another except in the severity of the symptoms. In TCM, we know that this is not the case. Therefore, we do not use one formula to treat all colds. Your symptoms will determine which formula is best for you.  Generally, the common cold is an illness with a warm nature and heat signs such as: a tongue with a thick yellow coating, fever, sweating, yellow phlegm and a sore throat. When heat signs predominate, your herbal formula is likely to include herbs of a colder nature and drying herbs. the herbs of a colder nature are effective in cooling the heat in your body and the drying herbs clear out your phlegm. However, if you had a cold and your tongue had a thick white coating, you had no fever, clear phlegm, and chills, warmer herbs would be the appropriate choice.
    With these examples, I hope that you can appreciate that even the ‘common’ cold isn’t quite so common and your Chinese Medicine practitioner can  guide you to the best strategies for alleviating your particular problem.


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