I have written previously about Chinese herbal decoctions and granules. This brief article addresses the broader issue of alternatives to consuming herbs in the form of tea.
For people who do not like to drink tea, Chinese medicine offers alternatives. The most common of these are encapsulated granules and pills. These formulas can be dissolved in hot water to make a decoction/tea. But they can also be encapsulated.
Two capsules will hold approximately 1 gram of granules, equivalent to 5 grams of bulk, raw herbs. Dosing can be adjusted as needed, with patients typically consuming anywhere from 6 to 18 capsules per day. If the capsules are taken with warm water, they are better activated; in effect, creating a tea in the digestive tract!
A traditional alternative to capsules is referred to as pian in Chinese, which means “pill.” In this method, herbs are either powdered or cooked, and the resulting dried material is rolled into little pills. For commercial use, they are often coated with plant wax to help preserve the action of the herbs. Most people I have treated have encountered these small black pills. Typically, 8 pills equates to 1 gram of material. They commonly are concentrated, like the granules, at a 5:1 extract ratio. There are also pills which are simply dried herbs that are pressed together.
For anyone who does not like to drink tea or can’t tolerate it for particular medical reasons, various companies make these Chinese herbal medicines in both traditional and modern formulations.