Questions related to Chinese Herbal Medicine

What is herbal medicine?


Chinese Herbal Medicine is a non-intrusive, natural, medical therapy. The World Health Organisation defines herbal medicine as containing active ingredients from plants and plant materials which may be prepared through procedures including but not limited to extraction, concentration and roasting, or prepared from crude (raw) herbal materials.


The herbs that the Capital Health Centre of Traditional Chinese Medicine dispenses for its clients and for clients from external clinics, all follow the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) guidelines and the Standards for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP) under the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The herbs are obtained from credible suppliers and pass all customs and quarantine regulations.


How does it work?


Chinese Herbal Medicine uses herbs in combination, one or a few main herb complemented by others in a planned structure.

It is the use of herbal formulas that makes Chinese Medicine so effective with chronic disorders. For instance, if you suffer from arthritis, you may be aware of the pain, the lack of mobility and maybe the deterioration of the digestive system. However, arthritis cannot be treated effectively by just analgesics. It is the sub-patterns that are responsible for the symptoms in the first place. Hence, it is by treating the surface symptoms and sub-surface patterns (underlying conditions) that many chronic diseases can be effectively treated with Chinese herbs.


Why are more and more people choosing to use natural medicine to resolve their health issues?


Recently there has been a wider acceptance for medicine other  than conventional ‘Western’ medicine and support for more holistic approaches. Chinese medicine in particular, places a lot of value on the relationship between the patient and the medical practitioner so they can work as a team. Patients have to be involved in the monitoring of their own health care and must work together with the practitioner. Chinese Medicine also use natural products to treat illness and focuses on quality of life.


What kind of herbal services are provided at the Capital Health Centre of Traditional Chinese Medicine?


We provide herbs in three forms:

  •          Raw
  •          Granule
  •          Tablets

Herbal medicine traditionally used raw herbs. For complex and chronic conditions many experienced practitioners trained in China still prefer to use raw herbs because of their strength and effective nature. Granule herbs and tablets however still have their uses and are wide used because they are easy to take, convenient, are increasing in availability and variety in the last 20 years, and have effective preventative attributes.


Can I take herbal medicine with other medicine?


Generally it is very safe. However you should always inform both your Chinese Medicine doctor and your GP of any medication/herbs you are taking so that they can avoid certain known clashes between the two treatments. Another reason to inform both of medication you are taking is to encourage effective, efficient care. Some herbal medicines act very similarly to biochemical medicines and so to be taking both would be unnecessary. In addition it is recommended to wait 1-2 hours between taking herbal medicine and biochemical medicine.


How is Chinese herbal medicine prepared?

  •        Raw – Plant or mineral material is collected and dried. It is cleaned then soaked for 30 minutes to one hour and then cooked over a heat source.
  •        Granule – The extract is made into a powder and is prepared for administration by adding hot water so it resembles brewed tea. This can be done in clinics by a Chinese Medicine doctor or at home by patients themselves.   
  •        Tablets – Made in a very similar way to western tablets, it is just the content which is different.  

The Capital Health Centre of Traditional Chinese Medicine imports, and then prepares and dispenses herbal products from its three locations. Herbal products are prescribed and dispensed by practitioners registered through the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia. The dispensing of herbs prescribed by external health practitioners is also available. As all herbs have their distinct characteristics and usages, make sure to read the given instructions carefully before use.

For more information contact us at your closest clinic.


What do Chinese herbs taste like?


The five flavours of Chinese medicinal herbs refer to the five different tastes of the tongue: pungent, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Pungent is a flavour that is believed to disperse and promote circulation of qi and blood.  Sweet nourishes, harmonises and hydrates the body and is usually prescribed for deficiency and pain syndromes, cough due to lung-heat, and imbalance between the spleen and stomach. Sour is a flavour that absorbs, consolidates, and counteracts severe conditions such as excess perspiration, chronic coughing, chronic diarrhoea, and other chronic illnesses. Bitter works to dry or resolve dampness and purge internal balance blockages. Salty is a flavour that softens masses and promotes defecation, therefore used for conditions such as constipation.


How long does treatment take?


Depending on the presenting condition, it can take from one week to a couple of months before the therapeutic effects of the herbs are noticed. Although the dosage is outlined for each formulation mentioned, it is best to consult with a Chinese medicine practitioner or herbalist before starting herbal therapy.