Herbal medicine is by itself a powerful method of healing. Western drugs are usually used to control symptoms but do not alter the disease process. For example: antibiotics kill bacteria but do not improve a person's resistance to infection; diuretics drain excess fluid from the body but do not improve the kidney function. Chinese herbs can also rid the body of disease but they also nourish and balance the body in very specific ways, thereby improving organ function and building up a person's constitution and immune system.
Chinese herbs are traditionally given as a very strong tea. The acupuncturist will give the patient several bags of herbs. Each bag contains a formula of about 12 or so raw herbs that has been prepared specifically for the patient and his or her condition. The patient then prepares the herbs at home by boiling them in water for about a half an hour. The benefit of this method is that the formula can be customized to the patient's particular condition. The acupuncturist may prescribe herbal pills, powders or tinctures instead because these are more convenient. However, the raw herbs are usually stronger and always more adaptable.