Starting Your Herbal Pharmacy, Part 2

This blog is the second part in a series on starting your herbal pharmacy.  In this section I will cover some helpful tips to get started with your herbal pharmacy and the benefits associated as a licensed healthcare practitioner. – By Sherri Taylor

Why Should I Have An Herbal Pharmacy?

Herbal Medicine is a great way to treat your patients comprehensively.  In China, herbIMG_4267al medicine is the primary form of treatment, and acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, tui na, etc. are secondary solutions.  Herbal medicine is a natural form of internal and external medicine, and more and more people are turning to natural methods for their healthcare.  people are tired of the western pharmaceuticals that often have more side effects than benefits.  Drugs such as antibiotics, are over prescribed in situations that might not be appropriate.  As a result, the natural flora in the gut gets disrupted and weakens the immune system leading to other potential health problems.  Herbal medicine can help balance the body during times of illness and with recovery.  Herbs can be used alone or with other western medications depending on the person’s condition and meds.  They can also serve as a preventative medicine during times such as cold or allergy season.

Here are some thoughts on getting started:

  • As Chinese medicine practitioners, we have much to offer to the public in terms of quality healthcare. We have all the tools available to treat people in the many modalities of Eastern medicine while getting to the root of their problem by diagnosing and treating.  And if you have herbal medicine as one of your tools, not only can you offer comprehensive solutions to your patients but you are improving your revenue stream with what you sell in concert with your treatment expertise.
  • To begin stocking your pharmacy, you only need to select a few basic formulas and maybe a few single herbs. The herb and formula selection should be based on your unique patient population and the conditions that you see.  For example, think of the environment in which you live.  Do you live in the hot, dry desert where you might see lots of yin deficiency, and heat conditions? Or do you live near the coast where it is cold and damp?  Also, consider the season.  Is it cold and flu season? Perhaps have some Yin Qiao on hand for flu season and traveling.  If it’s allergy season maybe have some Yu Ping Feng San or Cang Er Zi San.  If you see a lot of women for fertility and regulating the cycle, you may want to have some Xiao Yao San, Si Wu Tang, Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, and Liu Wei Di Huang Wan.
  • Some single herbs that come in handy and that are versatile are Gan Cao, Fu Ling, Bai Zhu, Bai Shao, Gui Zhi, Dang Shen, Xiang Fu, Chai Hu, Huang Qi, Dan Shen and Dang Gui to name a few. This gives you some general ideas when stocking your pharmacy, but over time you will have to diagnose in Eastern medicine what your patterns are, making sure that those formulas and herbs are a good fit for the patterns that you are treating.  As your confidence builds with pattern identification and diagnosing, then you can start to expand more.  As your skills improve, your herbal pharmacy will grow, and so will your income and business.
  • If you are not a person that wants to stock your shelves right away and wants to wait to improve your diagnostic skills before having too much inventory, then an online herbal pharmacy may be the way for you to go. TCMzone has that available to practitioners and will drop ship formulas direct to your patient’s house (see herbal dispensary).
  • There are many forms of herbs to choose from: Pills, tinctures, packet granules or bottled granules, in which you can mix the appropriate amount of each herb into the patient’s formula. Personally, I enjoy making my own formulas because it is my art and my passion.  I started with the granules and still have the granule bottles, formula packets of granules, some single herb granule packets, and veggie capsules in my pharmacy, but mostly I make my own customized formulas. You have to choose what you are comfortable prescribing and what your patients are going to comply with.  A formula in capsules or packets may be easy to start with when building your pharmacy and your skills.

If you want to be a primary natural medicine provider that people go to for their healthcare, then improve your herbal skills as a practitioner in Chinese Medicine.  Herbs are extremely affordable as a strategy to improve a person’s overall health while being easy on their pocketbook.  Over time, herbal medicine can be used as a preventative medicine keeping your patients well, while leading to fewer doctor and urgent care visits as well as fewer expensive prescription medications.   Natural medicine is not meant to replace Western medicine but it will become an integral part of our healthcare system in providing the best that medicine has to offer.