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The Complexity of TCM Formulas and its evolution

The formulas in Chinese medicine are not mere collections of medicinal substances in which the actions of one herb are simple added to those of another in a cumulative fashion. They are complex recipes of interrelated substances, each of which affects the actions of the others in the formula. It is important to remember with Chinese medicine that the final dosage form largely depends on the nature of the substances contained within these preparations and how the body absorbs these substances whether it is a decoction preparation or another form such as a capsule or tablet. Traditional Chinese herbal preparations often combine several herbs because they interact with one another in a synergistic way to maintain health. Herbs may be classified as the monarch, minister, assistant and guide depending on their functions. Every medicinal substance has its strengths and its shortcomings, an effective formula is one in which
the substances are carefully balanced in quality and quantity, in order to accentuate the strengths and reduces the side effects. The combination of substances in a formula creates a new therapeutic agent that can treat much more effectively and completely than can a single substance. A knowledge of herbal combination also implies an
awareness of when a particular combination would be inappropriate, i.e., would lead to mutual counteraction, mutual suppression, mutual antagonism, or mutual incompatibility. Therefore in TCM, most of famous physicians have their own secrete recipes, the most effective formulas that result from accumulating experience of their practice.

Decoctions are characterized by their quick absorption, favorable therapeutic outcomes, and few toxic side effects. However, decoctions have some inconveniences. They usually cannot be kept for a long time, and must be drunk shortly after being made. Some ingredients which are not water soluble can take hours to extract using this
method, and others can turn into a gas and dissipate. Due to the moderate volume of liquid a decoction typically produces, it can be awkward to carry and difficult for children to take since it generally has a bitter taste. Additionally, today's fast-paced society is not conducive to staying at home and boiling a decoction for several hours, especially if the person is unwell and requires treatment for an extended period. Furthermore, special attention must be paid to how ingredients are added into the decoction in order to get the best result.

Chinese scientists are collaborating with Western colleagues to close the gap between ancient medical wisdom and modern technical expertise. They try to find a formula which would respect the traditional approach, while translating it into a more Western
concept of drug therapy, that means they focus on identify active components and isolated into concentrated powder. The researches also helps the manufacturers to be able to provide better quality herbal supplements with improved extraction techniques and quality control standards. It is expensive to produce because only a few thousandths of a gram of extractions can be obtained from every kilogram of herb. Moreover, the standardized procedures ensure for maximum efficacy, quality assurance can be measured objectively along with heavy metal and microbial testing which helps to provide batch-to-batch consistency and ensure safe consumption.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
All information presented is for education and research and is not intended to diagnose or prescribe treatment.