herbal_medHerbs aid recovery from colds, flu and injuries. They also have been proven to enhance the digestive process while maintaining body rhythms and functions. Prescriptions are patent medicines and teas.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), herbal therapies are generally formula based and single herbs are rarely used. TCM holds that every medicinal substance has its strengths and its shortcomings, and each ingredient in the formula should be carefully balanced in quality and quantity, in order to accentuate its efficacy while reducing side effects.

As TCM physicians always focus on disharmony patterns, combination of herbs should address these presentations exactly. Since a TCM formula contains multiple interactive ingredients, it is customary to rank the compositions in four groups when analyzing the role they play in the formula.


The ingredient that exerts the major and leading effects in a formula. Generally, monarch drugs should constitute the largest proportion of a formula; a competent formula usually only contains one to two principal herbs so that the therapeutic effects can be focused.


Also known as the associate ingredient usually refers to two different functions. One is to support the monarch drug to exert major actions on the body, and the second is to improve and treat the accompanying symptoms or coexisting disharmony pattern. In comparison with the monarch drug, the minister drug usually has a weaker action.


The ingredients can play one of the following three roles in a formula. One is to reinforce the effects of the monarch or minister drug or to treat the less important coexisting patterns. The second role is to eliminate the toxicity of the monarch and minister ingredients, or modulate their harsh properties, and the third is to provide paradoxical assistance.


These have two different functions. One is to force the actions of the formula on the target meridians or area of the body; and the second is to harmonize and integrate the effects of other herbs.

Licorice is the most common guide herb.

It can also be called an adaptogen.

Some Formula Categories:

Exterior relieving: Yin qiao, cinnamon twig formula
Harmonizing – free & easy wanderer
Tonics – Restore the left and restore the right: kidney tonics
Open orifice – clear nasal passages, ear canals, brain.
Damp dispelling – Calm the stomach (ping wei san)
Calming – zizyphus formula for sleep and anxiety