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Apart from using Chinese herbs to prepare soups for nourishment, many people would also use Chinese herbs to prevent and treat diseases. Like the case with other kinds of medicine, it is very important to use Chinese herbs safely. For if not, adverse effects will be caused and our health will be impaired.

Purchase
  • Buy from a reputable Chinese herbal medicines retailer with a licence.
  • Seek advice from a registered Chinese medicine practitioner and never take Chinese herbs because other people are doing so. The herbs used should match your body constitution and clinical condition. If the herbs are not match for your bodily state, not only will you not get the desired curative effects but harm may also be done to you and your health will be put at risk. Every person has different body nature, causes of disease and clinical conditions. So do not use other people’s prescription rashly or make up your own prescription according to recommendations made in books or magazines.
  • For many herbs, their names may be the same, but they are different things; or they are similar things but they bear different names. There are also herbs which look similar in appearance and can easily be confused. So you should be careful and avoid having the wrong herbs.
  • You must know your own body nature, causes of disease and clinical conditions.
  • If you are taking other drugs, you must tell the Chinese medicine practitioner. Taking different kinds of drugs together may enhance or weaken the effectiveness of Chinese herbs and adverse effects may be caused.
  • You should know about the composition of the herbs, their efficacy, dosage, and how they should be treated and prepared, how they should be consumed and their prescription contraindication (toxic effects when some Chinese herbs are used together), what are the foods or drinks you should abstain from and how the herbs should be stored.
  • When buying Chinese proprietary medicine, you must know the main active ingredients, efficacy, dosage, method of use, contraindication or side-effects, storage methods and expiry date.


Decoction
  • Follow the instructions of a registered Chinese medicine practitioner. It is because the utensils and methods of decocting will affect their curative effects. For certain herbs, they may require special methods of handling and decocting. You should not make your own judgement or just listen to others concerning the order of decocting herbs, whether high heat or low heat should be used and the time required.
  • Utensils for decocting Chinese herbs should best be earthenware, for example, sand pot, clay pot and porcelain pot. It is not desirable to use metal utensils like iron pot, copper pot or aluminum pot.
  • Generally speaking, you should first rinse the herbs, then soak them in water for 30 minutes. For the first decocting, add water and the water should cover 2 to 3 cm of the surface of the herbs. For the second decocting, you can add less water as appropriate. First use high heat to boil, then reduce to low heat for decocting. The time required may vary for different herbs.
  • Do not use herbs which have been dried up or burnt in the course of decocting. It is because the curative effect has lost or changed.
  • There are certain Chinese drug stores or clinics which provide decocting service for clients.


Consumption
  • Follow the advice of a registered Chinese medicine practitioner and take the herbs at the right time and in the right amount. Do not add or decrease the dosage according to your liking.
  • In general, a period of 1 to 2 hours should separate the taking of drugs and food. This will prevent any effect done on the digestion and absorption of the drugs and food and how the curative effects are brought out.
  • Before taking proprietary Chinese medicine, you must read the instructions carefully and follow the instructions.
  • When taking proprietary Chinese medicine, you should use warm water. It is not recommended to use tea, soup or other drinks.
  • When taking herbs, you should stop taking them when the disease is cured or at the instruction of the Chinese medicine practitioner. You must not take herbs at your will or over long periods of time. Even for herbs with a moderate nature, when taken in the wrong dosage or over long periods of time, adverse effects can be caused. There are also herbs with some toxic ingredients and if taken over a long period, the toxic ingredients may accumulate in the body and this may lead to poisoning or damage done to the body.


Please refer to the following websites for the lists of licensed Chinese herbal medicines retailers and registered Chinese medicine practitioners and health information on Chinese herbs:
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