Herbs are used in a very different way in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) than most Americans are accustomed to using them. In TCM, herbal combinations or formulas are given based on a diagnosis using the Chinese diagnostic system. By combining herbs together, herbalists are able to get a new function that would not exist if you were to use the herbs separately.
One of the concerns that many patients have is whether their herbs and prescription drugs may interact. Although there is little research in the U.S. on herb/drug interactions, Asia and China, in particular, have done a great deal of research and have intentionally combined herbs and pharmaceuticals for years to reduce side effects and improve the effectiveness of each.
There are three categories of prescription medications that are of the greatest concern as far as interacting with herbs. These are blood thinners, protease inhibitors, and cyclosporine. If you are taking any of these drugs I would recommend using minimal herbs and only with the oversight of a well-qualified herbalist.
Herbalism has a long history throughout the world and continues to be used by many cultures as the mainstay of their medical treatments. Herbalism has also led to many great western pharmaceutical breakthroughs such as yew for breast cancer, meadowsweet and white willow for aspirin. During the 1800’s, almost all medications came from plant sources and in the early 1960’s, one quarter of all prescription medications were still derived from a plant source.