Chinese Herbal Medicine 101

Chinese Herbal Medicine 101

In Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine herbs are used to treat a variety of conditions in carefully crafted and personalized formulas. In general the main goal of the herbs is to treat the underlying root of the problem from the inside, while external therapies like acupuncture or massage help to treat from the outside. Herbs can be used in many forms, including their raw or dried state to create a decoction or tea, as well as a granular or powder form often shaped into pills or capsules.

Many of the herbs used in TCM are actually whole foods that you already have available to you at your local grocery store or market. Examples of such foods include; ginger, garlic, mint, mushrooms, tangerines and cinnamon. Using food as medicine is another important way to help treat conditions and bring you into a better state of balanced health.

All herbs and foods are categorized by taste and temperature, to help explain their healing properties and treatment use.

The main tastes include….

  • Sour : focuses on the LIVER or Wood energies in the body to constricts and consolidates things like diarrhea or excess sweat.
  • Sweet: associated with the STOMACH or Earth energies to strengthen, moisten and harmonize the body.
  • Bitter: focuses on the HEART or Fire energies in the body to stimulate appetite, purge downward and dry dampness.
  • Spicy: associated with the LUNGS or Metal energies in the body to disperse, circulate and invigorate the blood.
  • Salty: focuses on the KIDNEYS or Water energies of the body to help soften masses, accumulations and inflammation.
  • Bland/Neutral: helps to regulate fluids and swelling.

The range of temperatures include… Hot, Warm, Neutral, Cool and Cold. Generally

speaking hot/warm medicinal herbs are used to treat cold conditions. While cold/cool medicinal herbs are used to treat warm conditions.

How does this apply to you and your health?

 The best way to figure this out is to visit a Registered TCM Practitioner or someone who is licensed and regulated to prescribe herbal formulas and dietary recommendations. The internet is seemingly full of resources but talking to a real live licensed individual is the best way. You understand your body best, we understand the medicinal herbs best. Together we can work to treat your conditions and put you into a better state of balanced health.

Visit or call us at 519-500-5668 to book in for an Initial Acupuncture Treatment or Herbal Medicine Consultation.




  • Wang, Y., Sheir, W. & Ono, M. (2010). Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing, and Long Life. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press, 93
  • Bensky, D., Clavey, S. & Stoger, E. (2004). Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica (3rd). Seattle, WA: Eastland Press.