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Forms of Chinese herbal medicines

I sort of talked about herbs, foods, over the counter, tonic tinctures few days ago. Today I'll continue to talk more about these different forms as an introduction of the coming few detail posts about these forms of Chinese herbal medicines. Each form has its own advantages. Take the form that match our particular needs and use the form most appropriate to the urgency of the situation. Also consider the time of preparation required for cooking and curing the herbs.

1. Raw form - decoction - herbs made into tea

Usually because decocted raw herbal formulas are normally taken as it is. Most of the time it's going to challenge your tolerance of unpleasant taste. Mostly are bitter in taste, while there are also some exceptions. However, this form is more potent and that usually gives quicker cure than patent formulas.

2. Raw form - tonic tinctures - herbs made into medicinal wine

Like decoction, making herbs into alcohol solution (medicinal wine) produces a potion that is more potent and provides quicker cure. Although the preparation is quite easy and you can make a big bottle at one time for longer consumption. Most these wines takes 60-90 days to make. On the other hand, medicinal wine tastes better than decoction because normally it's sweetened by honey or crystallized rock sugar.

3. Patent form - over the counter -  in pill form, salves, syrup, herbal oils, tablets and ointments

Patent formulas are usually over the counter medicines or premixed packets, or in pill, syrup, tablets form. Taste doesn't seem to matter in this case. And it's the most convenient way to take herbal medicine. However, as I mentioned in that last article, the function of these medicines are quiet broad and not tailor-made for individuals.

One thing worth mentioning about the ingredients of herbal formulas is that we mentioned in the last article that there are some animal parts involved like tiger bone or deer antler in certain exotic prescriptions. However, since it raised both ethical and legal issues, now they've already found herb replacements for those animal ingredients. There are less animal getting killed or injured for that reason now - in fact there aren't many animals left for herbal medicinal use after all the widespread killings these years. Now a lot of these animals are protected from further killings. Of course, the "under the counter" trade in Chinese herb shop still happens.

Another thing I want to clarify is that just because a patent formula or a name of a prescription has the word "tiger" doesn't mean it contains tiger parts. Most of the time these names are not literal. For example, "tiger" just signifies power and strength to Chinese people, kind of like the meaning of dragon, which doesn't even exist.

(sources: Chinese Herbal Medicine made easy by Thomas Richard Joiner.)