Traditional Chinese medicine includes a mix of dried leaves, stems, and roots, as well as various animal ingredients. These ingredients are sorted and weighed by the practitioner according to the prescribed dosage. The mix is often simmered into tinctures and teas to be ingested as instructed.
Scientists have shown that some chemicals found in plants may be more effective together than separately, which may help explain some of the combinations found in Traditional Chinese medicine. For example, when testing the effects of soybean concentrate and black tea extracts on cancer, research has shown that they work better together to inhibit tumor growth than either individually.
Unfortunately, some traditional ingredients are taken from threatened populations of plants and animals. Non-profit organizations are working with traditional practitioners to identify more sustainable ingredients and sources.