An introduction to Chinese herbal medicines

Chinese medicines are predominantly herbs, although lots of animal parts and mineral form a part of them. Broadly speaking, traditional Chinese medical considers all our daily food and medical products, such as herbal plants, deer velvet and chemical drugs as medicines. There is a saying in Chinese medicines that the medicinal substances and food share the resources.


Each nation has its own traditional medicine in history, but no other nation’s traditional medicines can parallel the Chinese in its systematic medical theory, number of medicines being used, the ways the process, the experience and knowledge regarding their actions, indications, cautions and contraindications, compatibilities and incompatibilities and incompatibilities with daily food, interactions and counteractions among natural medicines and modern western drugs. Also more modern scientific research on traditional Chinese medicines has been done than other traditional medicines worldwide.


More than 5,767 kinds of natural medicines have been applied in Chinese medicine, including about 4,773 kinds of plants, 740 kinds of animals, 82 kinds of minerals and 172 others, about 500 kinds of medicines are most commonly used among them. The majority of Chinese medicines are native in China, there are a few medicines which originate in places such as southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, Russia and the Americas.


Chinese medicines have been used for treatment and prevention of diseases for over 5,000 years. Generally they are effective and safe to help treat most common health problems and maintain general well-being. For virus infections, like cold and flu and most gynaecological problems, Chinese medicines work better than chemical drugs; For mild and medium severity of bacterial infections, Chinese medicines work just as good as chemical antibiotics; But for severe bacterial infections, chemical antibiotics are superior to Chinese medicines; For crucial life-threatening conditions, chemical drugs must be first choice; For chronic and difficult conditions, Chinese medicines are effective and more suitable for long-term use.


Most commonly used Chinese medicines are safe with little side-effects and suitable for long-term use, which is one of their advantages in comparison to chemical drugs. There are some Chinese medicines with severe side-effects, which are only allowed to be used temporarily and for a short period of time.