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Acupuncture Blog

Different Uses of Herbal Tea and Pills in TCM

08/19/15

In the medical field, it looks like all the procedures make us uncomfortable. Medicine-wise, if we don’t swallow quickly enough, it also makes us uneasy.  Chinese medicine in particular can make us feel even more uncomfortable than that. Chinese herbal tea generally helps people, so people tolerate the temporary discomfort and bad taste. That’s why the Chinese have a common saying “liang yao ku kou li yu bing” meaning generally “good medicine tastes bitter but it helps with your illness.” What if good medicine helps our problem but doesn’t taste bad? Wouldn’t that be great?

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), there are many ways to deal with diseases like using Chinese herbs, acupuncture, massage, qi gong, diet, etc. Acupuncture with needles may be uncomfortable for most people at the beginning, a healing massage for medical purposes often hurts, with qi gong you feel very awkward at the beginning,  and sometimes we need to sacrifice our favorite foods for medical reasons. People try to avoid having these treatment if they don’t need them. That is why there are many ways to administer herbal medicine that can best fit the patient’s needs and preferences. For acute diseases or situations, herbal tea or acupuncture are the best choices. For chronic diseases or situations, herbal pills or powder are the better choices because patients need to take the herbs for long term on a consistent basis. It is convenient and they don’t need to boil the herbs everyday. The taste of the pills is much better than the tea. This means that the medicine that is supposed to help us does not have to taste bitter like the saying says. For kids or people who just don’t like the taste of herbs, honey is added to the herbal base for a better flavor and texture of a syrup.

For most Chinese herbs, they are not harmful to our bodies when taken for a long time. However, some of them are important to pay attention to the effects on our bodies. For example, ephedra is not supposed to be taken for a long time. If it is, the user will end up sweating profusely. Even though some other herbs can make us stronger, that doesn’t mean we should take them for longer or even at all.  Another example is licorice.  It is not a good idea to have it consistently for a long time, especially if you don’t have any medical issues. Otherwise, it could cause palpitation, sweating, anxiety, etc.

It is always a good idea to consult a Chinese herbologist about herbs you’re considering taking, either for medical purposes, beverages, or other purposes. This is because even a small dosage of some herbs can be very harmful. Herbal or so-called natural healing products do not mean they are without side effects.


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