Chinese herbal medicine shops have changed very little over the centuries. Today’s herb shops still contain row after row of herbs in jars and various containers, herbal soaps, teas and other health related items. Some herbal shops decorate with items such as dried sea horses, snake skins, bones, dried mushrooms as well as other mysterious substances to give their shop a mysterious, old world look. The herbs that are available at most Chinese herbal medicine shops can range from the very common to the extremely rare with price tags that match.
The roots of Chinese medicine
Many Chinese herbal medicine shops offer natural products and alternative medical practices that help customers maintain their health by restoring the balance of energy, body and spirit. Traditional Chinese alternative medicine practitioners believe that imbalances in the body can be detected by the appearance of the skin, hair, tongue, eyes, pulse and can be heard in the voice. Treatment for these imbalances include the use of a variety of herbs, in different combinations as required for the individual’s needs, to help restore balance to the body. This is where an herbalist or health care practitioner that is knowledgeable about herbs is needed. These combinations of herbs are created to treat the main complaint or patterns of the patient’s symptoms instead of the underlying cause. The use of herbs and alternative medicine is believed to help to restore the bodies balance. The end result is that the patient is healthier in mind, body and soul.
What to expect once you are in Chinese herbal medicine shops
When a person enters an herbal shop looking for a cure for a certain ailment, an herbalist, a book or sometimes both, is consulted. Once it is determined what herbs are needed, the herbs are weighted out in individual doses and given to the customer in raw form. The customer pays for the herbs they have chosen and then takes the herbs home. Once the herbs are in the possession of the customer they can convert the dried herbs into whatever form they wish from pills to tinctures. Some Chinese herbal medicine shops have herbalists on staff that can help the customer by asking about their symptoms and then preparing an herbal formulation that is specifically for them. This is generally a better way to go especially if you are not sure of the proper combination of herbs or the right dosage amounts. Besides offering a wide variety of herbs, the help of an herbalist or knowledgeable staff, some Chinese herbal medicine shops offer massage therapy, acupuncture or other forms of alternative medicine in a separate room of the shop.