A Best Practice Guide to Students and Practitioners

SWH Standardized eBookThis FREE booklet is an educational guide for both students and practitioners on herbs and standardised herbal formulas.

The question of good practice in using standardised herbal formulas must be paramount in the mind of practitioners for two reasons. First and foremost, because, as practitioners, we must strive to give patients the best possible care and minimise possible side-effects and adverse reactions; secondly, we need to practice in a professional and responsible manner that ensures the maximum safety. Although there are many highly informative papers on the toxicity of herbal formulas, the majority of these focus on in vitro studies, in terms of actual reported adverse reactions, these are extremely rare for standardised herbal formulas of high quality and that are professionally prescribed by qualified practitioners. In the hands of practitioners, standardised herbal formulas that have been produced to high standards are very safe.

This booklet aims, on the one hand, to give guidelines for a safe use of standardised herbal formulas and, on the other hand, to help put some of the toxicology studies already published into context. Additionally, we will look at how other contributing factors, including good manufacturing practices, quality assurance and regulation all play a part in the delivery of safe and effective standardised herbal formulas. The issue of safety of Chinese herbs cannot be considered in isolation from the principles, philosophy, diagnosis, guidelines, rules and methods of Chinese herbal therapy: when used according to such rules, Chinese herbs are remarkably safe.

This booklet starts with an introduction to the pharmacokinetics of drugs: although, as stressed later, herbs work differently from most drugs (especially aqueous extracts), it is still useful to understand how drugs, and therefore some herbal compounds, are absorbed, metabolised and excreted. The booklet then analyses the differences between herbal formulas and drugs, the issue of safety of Chinese herbs, and interactions between Chinese herbs and Western drugs. Finally, we will look at different processing methods and how standardised herbal formulas are regulated.

This booklet, aims to educate students and practitioners on how standardised herbal formulas work in the body compared to medicines and the differences; it will show how standardised herbal formulas work like foods in the body. It will strive to demystify terms such as ‘concentration ratio’ and others. The hope is to lay a foundation of what constitutes best practice in terms of quality controls in producing modern standardised herbal formulas. It also offers practitioners a check-list to assist them in conducting due diligence, for example when evaluating one product provider’s formulas over another. Price alone is a poor factor when choosing between formulas as it can mask insufficient quality controls which are not in patients’ best interest.