The Power of Herbal Medicine

At Selby Acupuncture, we take pride at offering not just excellent acupuncture and shiatsu services, but also high quality herbal products prescribed by well-trained Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. TCM combines acupuncture and herbal medicine in an effort to evoke the best health outcomes, because it is a well-balanced method that unites external and internal medicine to bring the whole body into harmony. Acupuncture releases tension or blockages while refocusing a person’s bodily resources towards healthy processes. Herbal medicine mirrors this process internally and also adds substances for the body to utilize. In this way, we can directly bolster that which is weakened or help metabolize anything in a state of excess.

Herbal medicine is also a daily routine that reinforces the healing process. Taking the time to include herbal medicine creates a small space in our day to recenter ourselves and focus on self-care.

Herbal medicine comes in different forms, each with their own strengths and uses. We carry four of the most popular kinds of internal herbal medicines. While your acupuncturist will prescribe the best form for you, here is a quick reference guide to what we use:

Tea Pills

These are small pills produced by cooking large batches of a classic raw herb formula, then concentrating the herbal tea down and mixing it with a neutral binding agent to make little pills. These pills are stable, portable, and easy to ingest. This is the most gentle form herbal therapy and are especially suited to long-term use or chronic cases. The disadvantage is that we cannot modify them to suit a particular patient’s needs.

Herbal Powder Concentrates

These are concentrated herbal powders that can be mixed with hot water to make a tea at home. They are stronger than the tea pills and effect change more quickly. We can also modify their combinations to create a formula that addresses the individual patient’s needs. The main disadvantage for some people is taste. Certain formulas simply do not taste great. That said, I have found that patients who stick with this herbal medicine tend to like the process more and more.


We carry tincture formulas that are easy to take and quickly absorbed. Tinctures are alcohol extracts that are very quick acting. Very little alcohol is ingested with each dose. They are convenient but less adaptable than the powders. We primarily use tinctures with certain fertility cases.

Raw Herbs

These are herbs in their traditional state: dried and simply processed. This is the only form that is not a modern invention (except tinctures, to some extent). Raw herbs are combined into formulas and cooked with water to make a medicinal tea. This is the most powerful form of herbal therapy because they are used in their freshest and least processed state. The cooked tea is quick acting and has a smoother texture than the herbal powders. With raw herb formulas, we always start with individual herbs; therefore, the formulas are extremely adjustable to specific circumstances.

Raw herbs also offer the most flexibility in preparation. While the majority of prescriptions are for cooking them into an herbal tea for drinking, there are many other possible applications. Raw herbs can be 1) cooked into an herbal tea for use as an external wash or soak; 2) infused into vinegar or rice wine to emphasize certain effects; 3) infused or gently cooked into oils to make a salve or balm for relief of skin ailments and healing; or 4) cooked with food. (Have you had our Raw Herb Soup Mix? It makes wonderfully nourishing chicken soup.) The versatility of raw herbs makes them a powerful tool for health and wellness.

Raw herbs require the most time to prepare but offer a more encompassing experience. You can see and touch each ingredient and engage directly with the medicine. I greatly prefer this form of herbal medicine for myself and my family. I am fortunate to practice in a clinic that carries such and impressive variety of quality herbal medicines.

[written by Charles]