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Herb absorption? Pill vs Powder


My TCM practitioner has prescribed me herbs that are in pill form from the company Hwa Bao Tang. I feel like i’m not absorbing them as well as I have with powders. Is there a big difference? Do the people here thing premade formulas are OK?


When you consider patient compliance, I feel the pills are superior. When you consider efficacy, I feel they are good enough for our purposes - we use them nearly 95% of the time in my clinic and I honestly can’t say there is any difference in efficacy when properly prescribed at the right dose. 3% of the other times are capsules taken apart or granules for children or others who can’t swallow pills, the other 2% are those who I feel need high enough doses and good assimilation that I recommend the granules (this is most often with less common strong digestive issues).


I recall one of my professors, who had a PhD in acupuncture from China, specially mention a few studies that had been done over there to look at the absorption rates of various forms of herbal formula. There are a very, very few people that lack the enzyme to digest the coating used in some of the wan (black ball) versions. There was also some indication that the powered forms tended to be absorbed a little quicker, but based on the blood serum levels they were looking at did not seem to show an overall increase in the amount of herbs absorbed. He did mention that raw herb preparation did show a slightest higher absorption rate than any other form however that was only if very fresh herbs were used. With older or dried herbs the raw preparation was actually lower than other forms.

For what it is worth I personally prefer using either powder or grinding pills into a powder to make tea from.


Stephen are you able to grind up the wan versions?


Even easier just chew them… That’s what I do for most formulas.


Interesting I appreciate your response.

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