What is herbal processing and why is it important?
Herbal processing 炮制 (pao zhi) is the alteration of a medicinal by methods such as dry-frying (chao), steaming (shu), calcining (duan), roasting (wei), scorching (jiao), charring (tan) etc., thereby changing the effect the medicinal has on the body. Such changes can be quite profound, and many times the processed medicinal will almost act like a different medicinal altogether (as compared to the unprocessed version).
Processing methods have been an intimate part of Chinese herbalism for thousands of years. We feel that pao zhi is an essential part of herbalism, even though it is often glossed over in the West. For example we see a large amount of processed herbs in Qin Bo-Wei's formulas and this is one reason that his formulas are effective using small doses, small number of ingredients, and have lesser side-effects.
Thus we here at Red Pine are heavily influenced by precise doctors such as Qin Bo-Wei, Wu Bo-Ping, Ding Gan-Ren, and the Meng-he lineage as a whole.
Red Pine Chinese Herbs uses hundreds of authentically processed medicinals giving a large number of clinical options. For example we carry various forms of Da Huang (Rhei Radix et Rhizoma), such as Sheng Da Huang, Chao Da Huang, Jiu Da Huang, Shu Da Huang, and Da Huang Tan. When a classic formula such as Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (Tonify the Middle to Augment the Qi Decoction) calls for Jiu Xi Dang Gui (wine-washed Angelicae sinensis Radix) we do not just substitute Dang Gui (Angelicae sinensis Radix).
Of note, many medicinals that we commonly get from our distributors in the United States have already been processed but are not labeled as such. Some may be obvious, for example, he shou wu will most likely be Zhi He Shou Wu (Polygoni multiflori Radix preparata) and not the unprepared product. Bai Bian Dou is often already dry-fried, making it Chao Bian Dou (dry-fried Lablab Semen album). Zhi Ke (Aurantii Fructus) is also almost always dry-fried. Xiang Fu usually is Zhi Xiang Fu (processed Cyperi Rhizoma), but processing methods may vary between distributors: it may be roasted, dry-fried with sand, or boiled together with yellow rice wine and rice vinegar, then dried in the sun. However as of writing this, Spring Wind is currently selling unprocessed Xiang Fu. We have a close relationship with Spring Wind verifying all processing that a medicinal has gone through 9or not gone through) so as to assure you are getting the correct preparation. All additional processing is done in house at Red Pine Chinese Herbs.