are developed to use each herb to its greatest advantage. By combining different
herbs together, we will not only adjust and increase the treatment results, but
also reduce or release the side-effects from the other herbs. It also makes it
possible to treat complicated diseases at the same time. That's why few
Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors prescribe only a single herb to treat
based upon treatment principle, and treatment principle is dependent upon the
cause. Because of the different cause of diseases, the herbal formula varies.
A formula is
made from typically 10-15 herbs together with appropriate dosage depending on
the patient's condition and the treatment principle. There is a saying,
"Prescribe medicine just like a commander in the army." Usually, a formula
includes four parts: emperor, prime minister, minister and envoy. Emperor is the
herb(s) which plays the most important role in the formula. This herb works
directly with the etiology and pathology. Prime minister is the herb which helps
to enhance the result of the emperor herb. Minister is the herb which treats the
secondary symptoms and minimize emperor and prime minister's side effect. Envoy
is the herb which can be used to adjust the formula's taste and moderate the
properties of other herbs.
In a clinic
setting, it is not always appropriate to use the same formula to treat one
condition. The doctor usually changes the formula to follow with the change of
the patient's condition, general health and age. First of all, the number of the
herbs in the formula can be changed. If the patient's main complaint doesn't
change, but the secondary complaint changes, the doctor will add some herbs to
treat the new complaint, and take out the herbs that were used to treat the
primary complaint, which is nonexistent now. In addition, the dosage of each
herb in the formula can be changed to follow the changes of the disease.
Increase or decrease in one herb's dosage may change the treatment principle.
In thousands of
years of experience in Chinese medicine, generation by generation, there are
hundreds of excellent classic formulas to be used to treat different diseases.
They have proven to be very effective in treating all kinds of conditions. Often
we prescribe a formula based on the classic formula, and add or deduct some
herbs, adjusting the dosage depending on the patient's condition.