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How to Reap the Benefits of Chinese Herbs Without Preparing and Drinking the (Bitter) Tea

If you are hesitant to use Chinese herbs, you are not alone. Many of my American friends and patients do not like the taste or the idea of Chinese herbs.  It is understandable. Preparing for Chinese medicine can be time consuming and tedious, and the herbal tea you just spent an hour preparing, tastes, well, bitter!  To make matters worse, you probably need to spend another hour to drink it.

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If you are like many of my American friends who object to Chinese herbs because of the above reasons, take heart. There are three commonly used forms of Chinese herbs:

  • decoction: the herbal tea cooked from the orignal dry roots or leaves of herbs
  • concentrated herbal powder, which can dissolve quickly
  • tablets and capsules. 

Each form has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Decoction is the oldest way of using herbs.  Usually it makes herbs more potent and is considered to be more effective than the other forms. Decoction takes time to prepare as one must cook the herbs, some time several times.  The taste of herbal tea is not very pleasant for some people, while most people are able to tolerate the taste.

Concentrated herbal powder is an extract of the herbs. It can be dissolved into hot water directly without cooking. Only a small amount of powder is needed each time.

Taking the tablets and capsules are as easy as taking regular pills. However, sometimes this means less flexibility to individualize the treatment.

When you visit a Chinese herbalist, it is common that you will receive a group of herbal mixtures instead of one or two individual herbs. After using the herbs for a few weeks, it is necessary that your herbalist reevaluates and modifies your herbal prescription to match the changes in your condition.

So be sure to check with your herbalist to see if you can have the Chinese herbs in powder or capsule forms if you are don’t have the time to cook the herbs yourself or don’t think you will tolerate the taste well.  A little Chinese herbs can do wonders for your health.

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