Chinese herbal medicine

Chinese herbal medicine is based around the principles of Yin and Yang. This is the idea that every living thing is balanced by two opposing forces of energy, Yin and Yang, which make up Qi, or the ‘life energy’ that flows through the body.

Traditional Chinese medicine suggests that everything (including bodily organs) is composed of five elements: fire, earth, metal, water and wood. The herbs themselves are categorised into five tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, pungent and sour, which relate to the elements.

Chinese herbal medicines are mainly plant-based, but some preparations include minerals or animal products so do double check if you're vegetarian or vegan before use. Preparations might come as powders, pastes, lotions or tablets, depending on what they will be used for. A practitioner makes a recommendation based on their idea of the patient’s Yin and Yang, and which elements the affected body parts are made up of.  It's important to check with a trusted adult before ingesting anything? Some of the herbs used in Chinese medicine can interact with drugs, have serious side effects, or be unsafe for people with certain medical conditions.  If in doubt, do check with your GP or investigate other forms of self-care.


There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.

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