Chinese-style herbalism is different from what we generally think of as herbalism here in the West. While Western-style herbalists usually use one herb to address symptomatic complaints, Chinese herbalism utilizes a complex system of diagnoses called pattern identification. From assessment of the tongue, pulse, body, and interview, a Chinese-style herbalist puts together a diagnosis that they feel gets to the root of the problem. With this diagnosis, an herbal formula is selected.
Chinese herbalism has a long history of herbalists who have created formulas that address a wide variety of problems. Formulas nearly a thousand years old are still utilized everyday by practitioners. Modifications are usually made to a formula by adding herbs to tailor to the patient’s complaint. In this way, nearly every formula is unique to the individual. Seven patients with the same complaint will most likely get seven different formulas, depending on how the problem manifests in that patient. This is the strength of this style of herbalism. When done properly, it can be extraordinarily effective.