Traditional Chinese Herbalists approach human health from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  In TCM, the human body is regarded as an organic entity in which the various organs, tissues, and other parts have distinct functions but are all interdependent.  TCM uses the theory of five elements (fire, earth, metal, water, wood) to explain how the body works.  These elements correspond to particular organs and tissues in the body.  Health is an ongoing process of maintaining balance and harmony in the circulation of qi—the body's vital energy or life force.  TCM also uses eight principles to analyze symptoms and categorize disease conditions: cold/heat, interior/exterior, excess/deficiency, and yin/yang.  The Chinese materia medica contains hundreds of medicinal substances, including plants, minerals, and some animal products.  These are classified by their perceived actions in the body.  Plant parts such as leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds are used.  Herbs are often combined in formulas and given as teas, capsules, tinctures or powders.


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