Chinese herbal medicine, along with acupuncture, and Chinese massage and exercise, is one of the components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a complete system of medicine with a recorded history of over 2000 years. Traditional Chinese Medicine fundamentally differs from Western medicine in its understanding of the human body and its approach to diagnosing and treating illnesses. Western medicine takes a mechanistic view of the body in which different organs are viewed as each performing an individual and self-contained function, much like the separate components within a machine, and consequently its treatments target individual symptoms largely in isolation. By contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine views the body as an integrated system, and diseases as manifestations of imbalances within that system. Therefore Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments aim primarily at restoring and maintaining balance and harmony within the body.

What are herbs?
Traditionally Chinese herbal medicine uses substances derived from plant, mineral, and animal products. The vast majority of herbs is plant-derived and can include leaves, stems and roots. Examples of "herbs" of mineral or animal origin include oyster shells and deer antlers. The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) enforces a strict policy prohibiting the use by its members of any type of endangered species, and requiring all prescriptions to use exclusively plant ingredients.

What can Chinese Herbal Medicine treat?
Chinese herbal medicine is primarily aimed at redressing internal imbalances and encouraging the body's self-healing abilities, rather than treating the symptoms alone. It can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:
Skin diseases
High cholesterol levels
Digestive disorders
High blood pressure
Menstrual and gynaecological problems
Depression and other emotional problems
Chronic fatigue

As part of the same system of medicine, Chinese herbal medicine is a natural complement to acupuncture treatment. It can be used either as an alternative to Western medicine or to support Western treatment.