Chinese Herbal Medicine

"Experts at curing diseases are inferior to specialists who warn against diseases. Experts in the use of medicines are inferior to those who recommend proper diet."

Zhi Chen, 11th century

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been part of the primary healthcare system in China for over 2,000 years and it is actively used in the UK as well as in East Asia, America and Europe.  TCM is a sophisticated and powerful medical system that has evolved over this time period.

It combines a detailed and holistic approach to diagnosis with a broad spectrum of therapeutic interventions. These include herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage & manipulation (Tuina) and lifestyle advice to treat disease and to restore and maintain good health and wellbeing.

Written records of this medical system stretch back over 2,000 years but its practices are even older and are likely to originate in the early stages of human development. TCM has been refined over centuries of clinical practice and, more recently, it has been tested and validated by increasingly rigorous in vitro and in vivo research. In China it is commonly used in over 3,000 hospitals and investigated by over one hundred research institutes. Over the past 50 years, TCM has become established in the West and is widely practised in Europe, the US and Australia.

The combination of traditional knowledge, and its application and scrutiny in a modern care setting, is one of the great strengths of this system of medicine.

Over 400 plants are used in Chinese herbal medicine and although these include commonly known herbs such as cinnamon, ginger, mint and goji berry, many others are prescribed that are less well known in the UK.

Jenny Swan at Bodyfix Therapies in Horsham West Sussex. 28-12-2022 Photography by Sophie Ward

Benefits of Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine offers a comprehensive range of treatments for many ailments. In the West it has a reputation for the treatment of conditions including:
• Skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis and acne
• Respiratory tract disorders such as acute cough and asthma
• Genito-urinary conditions including acute and recurrent urinary tract infections
• Allergic and auto-immune conditions such as Hay Fever, Allergic Rhinitis, Hashimoto's and Graves disease, M.S., SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), Rhumatoid Arthritis
• Digestive diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, GERD, and ulcerative colitis
• Gynaecological disorders such as infertility, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
• Mental and emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression
• Supportive treatment for people living with cancer.

However, its potential extends much further than this and, in China, most Western-style medical departments are matched in size by their Chinese Herbal Medicine equivalents.

What does taking Chinese Herbal Medicine involve?

In my clinic, I prescribe Chinese herbal medicine as dried whole herbs, or as granulated or powdered extracts appropriate for the individual and their specific problem.

Herbs are usually prescribed to be taken orally on a daily basis. Dried whole herbs are normally prescribed where a stronger clinical effect is needed, such as in acute conditions or for dermatological conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. For chronic conditions such as pain, or gynaecological issues such as PCOS or other long-term problems, granulated or powdered extracts are mixed with hot water and taken as a herbal tea. I give each patient simple and precise instructions on how to prepare and take the herbs.

One of the wonderful things about TCM is its diversity and flexibility. Herbs can also be made into various external preparations to treat a variety of conditions:

  • creams, gels, soaks, massage oils, poultices, plasters and bath soaks to treat muscular pain and injury, sports injuries, period pain or inflammatory arthritis
  • creams and gels to treat specific skin conditions
  • pessaries and other products that can be used to treat some intestinal conditions, gynaecological and other internal problems
  • foot or hand soaks for children or adults who cannot ingest Chinese herbs

Who can use Chinese Herbal Medicine?


The beauty of this system is that it is tailored specifically to the individual.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine train for many years in a very specific system of personal diagnosis and treatment.

When a patient's symptoms respond to treatment, the herbal prescriptions, acupuncture and even Tuina will be adapted to the patient's evolving condition and to encourage further movement towards total health.

People who seek out Chinese medicine are usually those who have come to a dead end with traditional treatment and are desperate for help!

You will never be discouraged from having essential medical treatment for conditions where your GP or consultant needs to be involved. TCM practitioners are trained to recognise when a GP referral may be necessary, and to work in conjunction with the western medical system (e.g. in relation to blood work or scans as appropriate). 

As a  practitioner listed with the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM), I prescribe authenticated Chinese herbal medicines that have been quality-assured and sourced only from RCHM-approved suppliers.

These suppliers must adhere to strict criteria and they are subject to thorough investigation by independent auditors. Suppliers must be able to demonstrate that herbal medicines are manufactured according to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards of safety and quality.

How does Chinese Herbal Medicine relate to acupuncture?

Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) and acupuncture both originate from East Asian traditions. Much of the modern system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on a diagnostic and therapeutic framework that particularly suits CHM.

The combination of CHM and acupuncture is an example of Yin-Yang pairing. Acupuncture excels at improving Qi (bodily strength and energy) and restoring its harmonious flow throughout the body, whereas CHM works at a more material level to address deficiencies in the body and expel the pathogens leading to disease.

In my experience, the combination of herbs and acupuncture significantly extends the range and potency of treatment. Herbal medicine taken daily provides an additional regular intervention that reinforces and consolidates the benefits of acupuncture treatment, enabling substantial change and a lasting restoration of good health.

My wife so looked forward to seeing her

“Although I have seen Jenny personally for my own back pain , I want to take this opportunity to thank her for all the help , advice and professional friendship she showed my wife Kirsty whilst she was dealing with bowel cancer . Although my wife had extensive chemo treatment, this alone takes a huge toll on the body which Jenny helped her with. Massage , acupuncture and also Chinese herbs . My wife so looked forward to seeing her and Jenny constantly stayed in contact to find out how she was doing . Unfortunately my wife , although young lost her fight but I do believe we had longer time with her , thanks to Jenny’s treatments. Thank you so much🙏”

Tony McCaulay. – as on Google reviews