Can Chinese Herbal Slices Be Used in Conjunction with Other Treatments?


Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It is often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, including Western medicine, to enhance therapeutic outcomes. However, combining CHM with other treatments requires careful consideration due to potential interactions and side effects. This article explores the benefits and precautions of using Chinese herbal slices alongside other treatments.

Benefits of Combining Chinese Herbal Slices with Other Treatments

Enhanced Therapeutic Effects: Studies have shown that combining CHM with Western medicine can improve treatment outcomes for various conditions. For instance, a systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated that CHM combined with Western medicine was more effective in treating type 2 diabetes mellitus with hyperuricemia (T2DM with HUA) than Western medicine alone. Significant improvements were observed in glucose metabolism, uric acid levels, and lipid profiles.
Symptom Relief and Quality of Life: In the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Chinese herbs combined with Western medicine improved symptoms, quality of life, and absorption of pulmonary infiltration. However, the quality of evidence was low, and further high-quality trials are needed.
Cancer Treatment: CHM is increasingly used as an adjunct to mainstream cancer treatments. It can promote apoptosis of cancer cells, inhibit cancer cell activity, and enhance immunity. Proper usage of CHM can double the effect of cancer therapy with half the effort.

Precautions When Using Chinese Herbal Slices with Other Treatments

Potential Herb-Drug Interactions: One of the most significant concerns when combining CHM with other treatments is the risk of herb-drug interactions. For example, certain Chinese herbs can interact with antithrombotic agents like aspirin, potentially enhancing their effects and causing clinically significant bleeding episodes. Therefore, clinicians must be aware of these interactions and educate patients accordingly.
Quality and Safety of Herbal Products: The quality of raw herbal materials is a critical factor in ensuring the safety of CHM. In Western nations, most herbal materials for CHM products are imported from China, and there is often a lack of regulation and quality testing. Proper quality control processes, including chemical fingerprinting and mass spectrometry, should be conducted to detect any contamination or presence of pollutants.
Supervision by Qualified Practitioners: It is essential to use Chinese herbal slices under the supervision of a trained and certified TCM practitioner. Self-medication or using CHM without proper guidance can lead to adverse effects. For instance, excessive consumption of certain herbs can cause liver or kidney damage. A qualified practitioner can identify safe herbs and explain potential side effects.
Disclosure to Healthcare Providers: Patients should always inform their healthcare providers about any herbs or supplements they are taking. This is particularly important because many patients do not disclose their use of herbal medicines to their doctors, increasing the risk of adverse interactions.
Proper Dosage and Usage: The dosage and method of using Chinese herbal slices are crucial for their effectiveness and safety. Overdosing or improper usage can lead to adverse effects. For example, long-term use of certain herbs in high doses can cause renal toxicity or liver damage. It is important to follow the prescribed dosage and usage instructions provided by a qualified practitioner.


Chinese herbal slices can be effectively used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, offering enhanced therapeutic effects and improved quality of life for patients. However, it is essential to take several precautions to ensure their safe and effective use. Potential herb-drug interactions, quality and safety of herbal products, supervision by qualified practitioners, disclosure to healthcare providers, and proper dosage and usage are critical factors to consider.
By adhering to these precautions, patients can benefit from the complementary effects of CHM and other treatments while minimizing the risks of adverse interactions and side effects. As research in this field continues to evolve, it is hoped that more concrete evidence will emerge, allowing for safer and more effective integration of CHM with other medical practices.