Custom Herbal Formulas: The Future of Medicine?

Custom Herbal Formulas: The Future of Medicine?
September 26, 2021 Jackie Gomez


The Future of Medicine


Herbs and plants are the oldest medicine in the world. Cultures across the globe have their own medical traditions using herbs. But there’s one that stands out among the rest–Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

What makes TCM so special? Well, it’s backed up by more than two thousand years of research, trial, and error. TCM practitioners have been recording and preserving their work for centuries. So not only do TCM practitioners know what individual herbs do, but they also know how different combinations of herbs work together. 

These combinations are known as formulas, and over the years they’ve become pretty precise and sometimes complex. It’s kind of like the all-natural version of pharmaceutical drugs. Lots of different things come together to create a powerful medicine that can keep people healthy.

But just because these recipes are old and well-tested doesn’t mean they’re set in stone. TCM is all about treating the individual person in all their uniqueness, so it makes sense that herbal formulas can be customized to exactly what you need. 

And we’re calling it now–custom herbal formulas are the future of medicine, even here in the west. Don’t believe us? Well, just keep reading.

Everything You Need To Know About Custom Herbal Formulas

Herbal PowderWhat’s An Herbal Formula?

First, let’s dig into what herbal formulas are, exactly.

TCM, like lots of other medical traditions, uses herbs to heal wounds, fight disease, and improve health. Chinese emperors have preserved the text books and research done by TCM doctors over the centuries, so we have lots of evidence and knowledge to make the most out of herbal medicine. 

Some herbs used in TCM are common spices and cooking ingredients that you use everyday, like ginger or cinnamon. But herbal formulas can come in lots of different forms, including:

  • Powders
  • Capsules or pills
  • Teas 
  • Extracts or tinctures

Herbal formulas use anywhere from 3-15 ingredients (although some have even more!) and there’s around 100,000 known herbal formulas in the TCM tradition. 

To make an herbal formula, you need one or more principle herbs that are meant to address the illness or problem at hand. Then there are minister herbs that work to make the principle herbs more powerful. There may also be adjunct herbs to make the formula more palatable or less harsh. And finally, neutralizer herbs help all of the different ingredients work in harmony.

Some of the more complex are actually just simple formulas mixed together. Or sometimes one complete formula will be added to a second formula that’s been modified. There’s lots of moving pieces, obviously! That’s why having all that research preserved over the centuries matters so much.

What’s A Custom Herbal Formula?

Custom Herbal FormulaSo what makes the most effective formula? Is it the one with the most herbs? Or the one that’s been around the longest?

Nope. It’s the one that works best with the body, energy, and illness of the person taking it. 

TCM is all about treating the person as an individual. So on top of considering the kind of health issue the herbs are supposed to treat, you also have to take into account any other health issues or medicines that are already in play, on top of the person’s inherent constitution. 

So for a custom formula, your TCM practitioner may take a commonly prescribed formula as a starting point but go on to customize it to your exact needs by taking out some herbs, adding others, and adjusting proportions. And as the treatment goes on, your custom formulas might be modified again to keep up with your healing process.

What’s So Great About Custom Herbal Formulas?

From the TCM perspective, everyone has an individual pattern. Some have damp-hot energies, while others are dry-cold. Think of people like different kinds of habitats–like the desert, the snowfield, or the southern swamp. Each kind of person, just like each environment, needs a unique kind of care or treatment. 

Custom herbal formulas make this kind of unique personalized care a reality. The more a treatment is tailored to your needs and specifics, the more effective and powerful it will be.

The Future of Medicine?

Custom Herbal FormulaSo why bring this all up now? Herbal formulas and the process of customizing them have been around for thousands of years. 

Well, like the saying goes, what’s old is new again.

Plus, personalized health care is the future. In fact, personalization in general is the future! Technology is making it easier for everyone from businesses to Doctors to know more about their customers and patients. It’s also easier than ever to tailor care and services to reflect this newfound knowledge. Scientists in Israel have even found that some people do better on ice cream than on brown rice, since each person responds individually.

Another rising trend in healthcare? Incorporating thousands of years of traditional herbal medicine knowledge into healthcare practices around the world. Eastern medicine is making a name for itself in the west. The World Health Organization has included herbal medicine in their International Classification of Diseases (ICD) manual since 2018 and more and more studies are being done to understand the effects of different plants and formulas. Acupuncture has become so common in the US that there are even acupuncturists who only work on dogs!

With that in mind, it’s easy to see that custom herbal formulas are going to explode in popularity any minute. And for good reason. We’re all individuals. It makes sense that individualized medical care would be the most effective kind.

TCM has been around for a long time, and it’s not going anywhere soon. Calling all trendsetters, it’s time to hop on this customized bandwagon.

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