What is a Chinese Herbalist?

Exactly what does a Chinese Herbalist do? How is it different from a “herbalist” and why would I see a Chinese Herbalist?

Marie Hopkinson, a Chinese herbalist from North Perth’s Metro health and Medicine explains:

Chinese medicine comes in many forms

  1. A Chinese herbalist practices according to the principals of Chinese Medicine. 

Chinese Herbalist bases everything on Chinese Medicine. The diagnosis and treatment principal is exactly the same as if another one of the 5 Branches of Chinese medicine was to be used. Generally, a practitioner using the term “herbalist” implies using western herbs or can be some Chinese herbs but not in a Chinese Medicine way. What that essentially implies is the diagnosis basis is the western disease or symptoms.

Chinese herbal medicine has the longest history of practice, therefore the largest traditional evidence base for it’s practice. Western herbalism might use a combination of herbs and even in different forms – some liquids, some tablets, some as teas, wheres a Chinese herbalist will generally make up only ONE FORMULA. or ONE PRESCRIPTION which includes a number of herbs in it. The smallest formula in Chinese herbal medicine is a two-herb combo, but the average of formulas would be around 8 herbs. This one prescription or formula is given to the patient to take with specific instructions (after or before food, specific time(s) of the day etc). These things can be vital to the workings of some herbal formulas.

2. Chinese herbalists are registered practitioners in Australia

Unlike other forms of herbalism, which are not government regulated, Chinese Herbal Medicine is. A registered practitioner can be reported, and must uphold the recognised standards for practice, whereas an unregulated practitioner of herbs – like a naturopath practicing western herbalism does not have to adhere to such a stringent standard. These standards extend from dispensing right through to acceptable marketing practices. One reason why you wont’ see any testimonials on our website or social media is that it is prohibited by the government registration standard for Chinese herbalists. If your interested in what the standards of practice for a registered Chinese Herbalist in Australia, you can find them on the AHPRA Chinese Medicine Board here.

3. Chinese Herbalists can prescribe herbs in different ways.

  1. Herb formulas used are either for external or internal use. External use includes things like creams, liniments, external soaking or poultice type applications. Internal use  are:



herb teas 3 (3)Known as raw herbs because they are given in the sticks and leaves state – actually some can be processed or cooked and then dried but if you take Chinese herbs in this way you will be given a bag of herbs to boil up for each days herbs. The end product is known as a herbal decoction. It’s a lot stronger than a tea.

herbs small
Chinese Herbalist

2. Concentrated granules or powders

The manufacturing process of granules involves the raw herbs being boiled up and the steam also captured. This Taking Herbsis sprayed back into the herbs as they are drying into granule form. One teaspoon equals the typical one cup of boiling up herbs. Instead of drinking a cup of smelly liquid, you only have to take one teaspoon of granules. Although strong tasting, they are easier to drink than boiling up herbs and very convenient.


Powders can be made like the above method, or they can be made from grinding down the raw herbs in a machine until they are powdered.

2. Liquid herbs – commonly an extract made with alcohol, or a process by which the liquid extract is obtained and able to be preserved. These herbs usually have a strong taste but only a small amount is needed to be consumed for each dosage.

3. Processed or pre-made formulas in Pills, capsules.

The down-side to this method is that the practitioner can’t change the dosage of any individual herbs, nothing can be taken out or added to the standard formula – that is often what Chinese Herbalists do for their patients. On the positive, many patients prefer this method because there is virtually no taste to the herbs. Although it’s pretty normal to take up to 15 little pills per time, they don’t taste bad so compliance is usually good.

Western herbalists also use many of these methods.

The key difference in a Chinese herbalist and practitioner who refers to themselves as a herbalist, herbal medicine practitioner, naturopath practicing herbal medicine and/or medical herbalist is the Chinese medicine part. Chinese medicine is a completely different system of medicine, the whole way we look at your body is totally different to that of Western medicine. Find out more about how Chinese medicine views your body differently, for specific conditions on our website, under conditions treated.

Find out more about making an appointment with Herbalist, Marie Hopkinson



Marie Hopkinson is a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Practicing from her clinic in North Perth, WA- METRO HEALTH AND MEDICINE. Marie can be consulted for appointments, while in-person is preferred, Email /phone consultations can be arranged. Marie has been practicing since 2000, completing initial 3-year course in Chinese Medicine at the Perth Academy of Natural Therapies in WA. Marie has been to China for additional training in the Hangzhou Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital (Hangzhou Shi Zhong Yi Yuan) twice as well as completing a Master of International Health at Curtin University in 2006. Marie is passionate about the effective practice and understanding of Chinese Medicine and enjoys the opportunity to educate patients about the benefits of self-help aspects such as diet therapy, as well as teaching Chinese Medicine at the Endeavour College of Natural Health.

For more info about booking an appointment with Marie CLICK HERE.

For more info about conditions treated with Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbal Medicine CLICK HERE.