When I prescribe a formula I use specific herbs that are suited to the individual patient for that particular time. I use dried or granulated herbs.
Other times, the better option will be to use the herbs in pill form.
Dried Herbs, Concentrated Granules and Pills
Over the years I have mainly used dried Chinese herbs that are prescribed and dispensed here at the clinic, taken home and decocted into a soup. This is often supplemented by the use of concentrated herbal pills whenever possible.
In recent years, I have been increasingly prescribing high quality concentrated granulated herbs which allows me to offer patients the option of dissolving a teaspoon of granulated herbs in water as well as the traditional method of decoction.
Not surprisingly, if given the choice, most patients prefer the more time efficient and portable option of granules.
The main consideration I have when offering a choice of dried, granulated or herbal pills is in their suitability and effectiveness.
My preference is to use dried or granulated herbs because I can prescribe them to take into consideration the nuances of my patient at each visit.
Pills or capsules are pre-made formulas, and while effective, cannot be modified.
Pills or capsules are more commonly prescribed when the symptoms are stable, less refinement is required in the formula, and are better suited for longer-term maintenance, or during travel.
Endangered species? Not here!
Since starting out, I have always had a policy of never using threatened or endangered species in the dispensary. This is consistent with the principles adopted and enforced by CITES (an international treaty to protect endangered animals and plants).
In the early years of practice, my herbal display often drew comments about the use of animal medicines such as snakes, horns, bones or insects!
Although tempted to pull something scary out of a hidden jar to satisfy the anticipated curiosity, I had nothing.
Regarding the use of medicines of animal origin, I occasionally use either oyster shell, abalone shell, (both minerals) or cuttlefish bone. If I consider one of these to be of particular benefit, I will ask my patient before including these substances in their formula.
Please keep in mind that historically, (and in our lifetime) people simply did whatever they could to survive during times when they endured physical hardship, environmental conditions were challenging, and nutrition limited.
As a traditional medicine system with a very long history of continuous use, Chinese herbalists utilised in their prescriptions plants, animals, and minerals in order to meet the needs and restore the health of their patients.