The art of herbal formulation has evolved in Traditional Chinese Medicine to utilize herbal combinations in achieving a healing objective. Skillfully combining herbs not only optimizes the therapeutic effect of the herbal ingredients, but also neutralizes the potential side effects of the individual herbs.
The design of the herbal formulation is based on the cause of the imbalance and the treatment principle to correct the imbalance. Formulas are generally comprised of 10-15 herbs with each herb playing a specific role. There are traditionally four roles an herb can play within an herbal formula: chief, deputy, assistant, and envoy. The chief plays the most important role and works directly with the etiology and pathology. The deputy helps to enhance the role of the chief. The assistant addresses secondary symptoms and neutralizes potential side effects of the chief. And the envoy harmonizes and integrates the actions of all the herbs in the formula.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, classical herbal combinations are put together to suit the individual and to address the current situation that individual is in. The herbal formula can be modified to follow the change of the individual’s condition.
Through time, hundreds of excellent classical formulas have been used to treat different diseases. They have proven to be effective in treating a broad range of conditions. A qualified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine may draw from various aspects of these classical formulas while constructing herbal formulas to suit the patient’s specific needs.
Article contributed by Edsel Tan, L.Ac., Dipl.O.M. He is the resident practitioner in the Tao of Wellness clinic in Pasadena,CA. Edsel provides acupuncture, bodywork, and herbal therapy and works closely with Drs. Dao and Mao to continue developing an integrative healthcare model for pain management, physical rehabilitation and other health conditions. For more information about Edsel and Tao of Wellness, visit www.taoofwellness.com or call 626-397-1000.
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