21st Century Herba & health
Traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) have been widely used for thousands of
years. Their preventative and therapeutic efficacies proved by countless
people are much more convincible than results obtained from laboratory and
animal experiments. No one should doubt about this.

Most of the research results on herbs performed by scientists over the world
using modern chemical, biological and pharmacological methods in the past
decades all supported the functions of Chinese herbs. And more and more
results coming out every year are helping explore the therapeutic mechanisms
of herbs and acupuncture.

Our inability to well explain some of the mechanisms of herbal therapies
currently is not because herbs are too old, it is because our knowledge about
human body and diseases are still limited so far.  
1. People get sick when Yin and Yang become imbalanced or deficient in the body   
2. Holism – the most important TCM fundamental characteristics   
3. Concept of Qi in TCM
4. Importance of Qi and blood circulation
5. Chinese herbs should be used under guide of TCM theory
6. Natural products do not mean unconditionally safe
7. Consulting a licensed specialist before taking herbal products
8. FDA regulation on herbal products

1. People get sick when Yin and Yang become imbalanced or deficient in the body
When the Yin and Yang in your body becomes unbalanced, the external or internal evil Qi (pathogens) will easily attack you
and make you sick. In this situation, your body needs to be tonified, especially when you are getting older. If you frequently
feel tired, painful, or any other uncomfortable, it is the time you need to pay attention. Both acupuncture and herbs can
balance the Yin and Yang, harmonize the organs in your body. The prevention in TCM includes not only preventing the
occurrence of diseases, but also the development or worsening of diseases.

2. Holism – the most important TCM fundamental characteristics
The concept of holism in TCM considers the various parts of the human body as an organic whole, emphasizing the
coordination of the internal organs among each other and the harmony of the human body with the external environment.

TCM believes the human body is a complex network of connections, made up of channels (also called meridians) and
collaterals. Scientific experiments have found that the fundamental structures of the channels and collaterals in TCM are
the neuroendocrine-immune network and circulatory (blood and lymphatic) systems.  These networks not only connect the
internal organs, but also control their functions through Qi and  blood. Through these connection, the dysfunction of an
organ may impact the functions of other organs and tissues. Based on this concept, the treatment with Chinese medicine
and acupuncture emphasizes Qi and blood circulation in the network of channels and collaterals.

3. Concept of Qi in TCM
There are different types of Qi in TCM. According to their definitions of Qi, Qi in TCM refers to both essential substances
and functions that maintain normal function of our body. There are Qi inherited from parents and Qi acquired after born.
The acquired Qi comes from the air and the foods we eat. The ingested foods are mechanically  and chemically digested
through stomach and small intestine and absorbed in small intestine, then processed in liver and turned into essential Qi
(substances for cells and energy). Neurotransmitters, hormones, immune factors, and other cytokines that regulate the
functions of all systems, maintain the functions of cells, and circulated in the blood are all considered as substances of Qi.
The function of Qi actually covers functions of nerve, endocrine and immune systems as well as that of organs and tissues.

4. Importance of Qi and blood circulation
TCM emphasizes maintaining an unobstructed circulation of Qi and blood, as obstructed Qi and blood are considered the
cause of many diseases. The Qi circulating in the network of channels and collaterals. The recent found neuroendocrine-
immune network has provided supportive evidence for the network of channels and collaterrals. As far as we know,
thrombosis not only effects coronary and cerebral arteries, causing  heart attack and stroke,  but also effects pulmonary,
portal, renal, hepatic, cerebral, and extremity veins – causing all kinds of symptoms or diseases.

Modern anatomy studies have showed that >50% of people have narrowed arteries. It is the result of long term chronic
accumulation. The process started since teenagers. In addition, the blood vessels become fragile with age, which may
result in stroke caused by bleeding (hemorrhagic bleeding). Chinese herbs are not only effective on improvement of  blood
circulation, but also good at improving the elasticity of blood vessels.

Circulatory system (including blood and lymphatic systems) delivers nutrients to cells throughout the body, and also carries
metabolized wastes out from tissues and organs. Only unobstructed blood flow can maintain health and quality of life. Cells
will die if not receiving enough nutrients or the wastes accumulating inside.

There are more than 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) in the human brain, composed of the central and peripheral nerve
systems. The nerve systems regulate the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive and eliminative functions, maintain hormone
secretion, as well as control the movement of limbs, language, memory, recognition, thinking, etc. The brain weight is only
2% of the body weight, but it needs 20% of the total blood supply.

The nerve cells use the nutrients provided from blood to synthesize neurotransmitters which control the regulations
mentioned above. The brain cells can only function well when they receive enough nutrients from the blood. Chronic
insomnia, anxiety, poor memory, tinnitus, depressant, some types of headache, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are all related
to blood deficiency in brain.

Keeping circulatory system function well is crucial to prevent diseases and aging!!!  

5. Chinese herbs should be used under guide of TCM theory
Chinese doctors treat patients based on their own diagnostic system. If the diagnosis is  correct, the treatment will be very
effective. If the diagnosis was wrong, the treatment would be ineffective or even make situation worse.

In Western countries, I have heard people saying that herbal medicine is traditional, therefore, the herbal products are non-
chemicals and very safe. Such misconception leads to the misuse of some Chinese herbal extracts such as Ma-huang
(Ephedra) and Guang-fang-ji (Radix aristolochiae fangchi) for weight loss or energy enhancement in the US and Europe. As
consequences of the long-term administration without consulting Chinese doctors, the kidneys or other organs of some
consumers were severely damaged due to over dose and long term administration. Some even died of that. Then people
blamed on the herbs. What I want to claim is that the herbs are innocent, because Chinese herbs are always prescribed by
the doctors under the guidance of TCM theory. In fact, Ma-huang and Fang-ji are never used for the above purposes in

6. Natural products do not mean unconditionally safe
All of the materials on the earth are composed of chemical compounds. Herbal product is actually a complex mixture of
components. Even in the first Chinese herbal book
Divine Husbandman's Classic of Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao
Jing) written 2000 years ago, herbs were divided into three categories according to their safety and toxicity. Many Western
medicines are actually compounds separated or derived from natural sources. The purified compounds become much more
effective, meanwhile, their toxicities also increase.

The composition of a herbal product decides its efficacy and safety. The efficacy and safety of herbal products not only
depend on the quality of the raw materials, extraction method, but also the applied dose and course.

7. Consulting a licensed specialist before taking herbal products
For thousands of years, Chinese herbal medicines has been always used under the guidance of theory of Traditional
Chinese Medicine (TCM). The prescription should be provided by a licensed  professional practitioner based on correct
TCM diagnosis. However in the American market, many people buy the products based the advertised information. Here,
therefore, I strongly recommend consumers to consult an expert before taking herbal products from the market if you do not
have enough knowledge about them.  

8. FDA regulation on herbal products
FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering "conventional" foods and drug
products (prescription and Over-the-Counter). Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA),
the dietary supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed.
FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. Generally,
manufacturers do not need to register their products with FDA nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary
supplements. * Manufacturers must make sure that product label information is truthful and not misleading.

FDA's post-marketing responsibilities include monitoring safety, e.g. voluntary dietary supplement adverse event reporting,
and product information, such as labeling, claims, package inserts, and accompanying literature. The Federal Trade
Commission regulates dietary supplement advertising.

*Domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United
States are required to register their facility with the FDA.

On June 22, 2007, FDA issued Dietary Supplements Final Rule. The regulations establish the cGMP needed to ensure
quality throughout the manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and storing of dietary supplements. The final rule includes
requirements for establishing quality control procedures, designing and constructing manufacturing plants, and testing
ingredients and the finished product. It also includes requirements for recordkeeping and handling consumer product
Website linking:
History of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine
The Herbal Encyclopedia
Center for Food Safty & Applied Nutrition
Dietary Supplement Overview by FDA
Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994
Herbal and Nutrition Information Center
21st Century
Herbs & Acupuncture
Dr. Willow J.H. Liu
Dipl. of OMD & Herbology
Acupuncture - Get the fact (NIH-NCCAM)
FDA Dietary Supplements Final Rule
Botanical.com - A Modern Herbal
Copyright © Jan 12, 2014, 21st Century Herbs & Health, Inc.
Dr. Liu welcome you visit to herblog:
Natural Medicine Forum
Recent discoveries such as neuro-endo-immune network and the new psychoendoneuroimmunology as
well as other new research results are providing more and more scientific evidences to support the TCM
theories that guiding the clinical practice of TCM.                                   - Dr. Willow J.H. Liu
American Association of Chinese Herbs