What they do

Chinese herbs target specific areas of your body to alleviate specific symptoms, while promoting overall health and well-being, says Stephen Morrissey, OMD, a renowned specialist in Chinese herbal therapies. Based on a series of continuums such as hot to cold and dry to moist that relate to your body’s systems, Chinese herbs help your body achieve equilibrium, which promotes good health.

How to use them

”Chinese medicine is two things: diagnosis and treatment,” says Morrissey. Start with “diagnostic targeting,” or diagnosing and treating your body’s underlying tendencies such as dampness. You’ll then match herbs that target deficiencies or excesses with herbs that relieve the current symptoms . Look for combination products that meet your needs and always pay attention to your body: If you’ve been taking a substance for a while and it starts to taste or smell different, you may need to go off of it for a while.

Taking tonics

One of 22 Chinese herbs categories, tonics regulate physiology and metabolism. The tonic category is the only one containing herbs that strengthen functional capacity, or the amount of energy storage available in your body, says Morrissey. By increasing this capacity, you can retain more energy and become stronger.

Quality

The quality of herbs exported from China has gone down because of the industrialization of Chinese cities, Morrissey says. “Most companies source products from China through brokers with no idea of where or how they were grown,” he explains. Make sure you get a high-quality product by asking questions of your Chinese herbalist, naturopath, or acupuncturist. Check out websites and contact companies to find out if the herbs you purchase have been tested for things such as heavy metals, agricultural chemicals , and phytochemical content. Because there are no certified labels, look for companies that source directly from growers.