What are 'Chinese herbs'?

'Chinese herbs' is actually a somewhat misleading description for a heterogeneous collection of plants (parts) that have undergone one or more specific preparations. It is therefore not necessarily plants that are exclusively from China. What is specific is the quirky choice of the plant parts used (carrot, leaf, seed, fruit, stem, etc.) and the method of preparation. Moreover, these ingredients are almost exclusively combined in formulas.

What are Chinese herbal formulas?

Historically developed and proven combinations that exhibit a functional pattern that supports physiological, body-like functions within the homeostatic range. The selection of herbs that can strengthen or control each other in a synergetic way, which guarantees a mild effect, is characteristic of the classical Chinese herbal formulas. Also, the refined combination of the basic flavors (bitter, sharp, sweet, salt and sour) generate a subtle balance between constructive and purifying activity.

How does Chinese herbs differ from Western herbs?

Although both aim at the same goal, the approach is fundamentally different. Western herbs are used either individually or in small combinations as infusions; 'Chinese herbs' usually in larger combinations such as decoction (= cooked together). You can state that simplifying Western herbalism puts more emphasis on the analytical and Chinese herbal medicine focuses more on the synthetic. The first is based on the content substances of the plant and then searches on which domain they are applicable. Chinese herbal science is based on the observation of the domain and then searches for the plant components that can be applied to it.

How does a TCM dry extract granulate come about?

The original preparation, almost always a decoct in water, is evaporated and thus reduced to a concentrated, viscous mass. This is dispersed in a 'Flow coater' tunnel. At the same time, microparticles of powder from the same plant are pushed through that tunnel. The concentrate adheres to the powder particle and the resulting granule is then completely dehydrated. It requires between 50 and 60 kg of raw herb starting material to produce 10 kg of dry extract. At each stage there is in-process control to verify that the total chemical profile of the original solution is retained until the final product.

In other words: the granules must be 100% phyto-equivalent (this means that the chemical profile must be identical to the profile of the prepared aqueous solution) and also maximum bio-equivalent (e.g. the bio-availability both qualitatively and quantitatively comparable with the aqueous solution).

What is the difference with other extracts (hydro-alcoholic, alcoholic and supercritical extracts) and other methods of preparation (powders, tinctures, hydrophilic concentrates, etc.)?

The traditional decoct is, with a few exceptions, always the reference to refer to the specific characteristics, working mechanisms and possible risk assessment as described in the traditional literature.

The standardized use of unprocessed ground herbs (powder), hydro-alcoholic, alcoholic and supercritical extracts, tinctures, etc. have little or nothing to do with the specific homeostatic domain as described in traditional literature:

  • Chemical profile is substantially different from the traditional reference (totum, total spectrum).
  • The bio-availability is qualitatively and quantitatively different.
  • The safety profile is not comparable and not traditionally tested. The traditional literature gives very specific indications when it is useful or necessary to use a different method of preparation. This for quality and/or safety reasons. The linear standardization of a traditional preparation into a cocktail of mono-components brings no added value and distorts the traditional safety profile.

Which dose is recommended?

For both extract granules, capsules or tablets; please consult your therapist.