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Ease of Use

You can select the freshest, highest-quality herbs on the market, but it won't make a difference if your patients can't take them. Making herbs easy for patients to take can make a world of difference.

According to Dr. Zee Lo (, a Los Angeles-based acupuncturist and herbologist, said ensuring patient compliance is key. He explains, "After the herbs/formula are dispensed, is the patient going to follow instructions? Are the instructions too hard to follow? Is the patient willing and able [to follow the instructions for dosing]?"

Jennifer Knapp, sales and marketing manager at Honso USA, Inc. (, out of Phoenix, Ariz., says that the key to patient compliance is efficacy in processing, thereby making it easier for patients to take the herbs. She notes, "Granule packaging in individual dose sachets allows for fixed and precise dosages, giving practitioners full confidence in administering this form to patients and allowing for higher patient compliance in an easy-to-use form."

Egloff adds that there may be other patient lifestyle considerations when selecting herbs. If a patient is vegetarian or keeps to a strict kosher diet, this may affect your choice in herbs. Convenience for travel may also come into play, as liquid formulations or those may be more difficult to transport. Flavor is another concern. A patient is far more likely to take herbs that don't have an unpleasant odor or taste to them.

When it comes to taste and texture, Yang actually recommends trying them out yourself. If you find the herb too unpleasant to swallow, chances are that your patient will have the same reaction: "You can experience [the herbs] by tasting and chewing some of the products, or dissolve them into tea form and try them to see their strength and flavors."

Standardized Processing

According to our vendor experts, another important consideration is the manufacturing process. Specifically, that the manufacturing process has been standardized so that each batch of herbal products has the same strength and quality of ingredients.

As Lau explains, "[Look at] whether the herb in question has been processed properly to maximize properties of the herbs or eliminate safety concerns."

Knapp agrees, explaining that if the processing is of top quality, the end product will be more effective: "There are many things to consider when deciding the best herbal protocol for your patients, but a common thread always remains, efficacy. Efficacy encompasses a variety of components in order to make it sustainable."

Tsai stressed the importance of being able to trust the herbs being sold. He notes, "Because of the combined complexity of the vast selection of Chinese herbs and the international supply chains that deliver them, it is important to be able to trust the integrity of the herbs. Because it's difficult for any individual to acquire the overwhelming volume of expertise necessary to tell one herb from another, many practitioners prefer to purchase granules from trusted herb companies."

It All Goes Together

In many ways, all three of these considerations - safety, ease of use and standardized processing - go together. Clinicians can be assured that standardized herbal formulas will have undergone rigorous testing for safety, efficacy and ease of use. All of which means satisfied patients and a healthy practice for you.

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