Starting a Pharmacy
Setting up your herb pharmacy with Red Pine Chinese Herbs
Starting a Chinese herb pharmacy can be a daunting project. There are many factors to take into consideration which can affect the success of both your business and your treatment results. Our goal at Red Pine is to offer solutions that make offering bulk herbs easy and practical. We hope this guide will help you get started, and we are happy to support you in the process of setting up and maintaining your pharmacy.
What form of herbs to carry
The most basic decision in starting a pharmacy is deciding what kind of herbs you want to prescribe: bulk / raw herbs, granulars / extract powders, patents/ ready-made pills, tinctures, and/ or topical products. Your choice may come out of your experience and training, your intended specialization, the space you have available for storage, etc. What seems like a simple decision should not be taken lightly however, since the habits we establish early on in our practice are sometimes surprisingly difficult to change later.
We started Red Pine Chinese Herbs because we believe strongly that bulk herbs are the most effective, fast-acting and side effect free form of Chinese medicinals, and wanted to find a way to make bulk herbs a practical option for more practitioners. For more information on why we believe bulk is best, see our Bulk vs. Granulars article.
Other considerations: time, space and money
Time: Red Pine’s pre-packaged formulas mean that there are virtually no ongoing costs associated with labor to prepare formulas, so your patients get the highest quality medicinals AND as much of your attention as they need during their visit. Clearly printed cooking instructions for patient reference minimize time spent explaining how to cook herbs.
Space: Pre-packaged formulas minimize space requirements by allowing you to stock only exactly what you need, and Red Pine’s attractive packaging makes it easy to leave herbs out on display rather than taking up valuable storage space.
Money: Finally, Red Pine offers wholesale pricing to practitioners, and our formula prices directly reflect the actual cost of each herb, meaning you pay only for exactly what you get. With pre-packaged formulas there are virtually no additional costs for time or labor to put formulas together – simply order the formulas you need and dispense them to patients.
Your prescribing style and using Red Pine formulas
When considering how you plan to prescribe, there are many options and Red Pine formulas allow for significant flexibility. A few ideas of how to use our formulas are:
- Make a focused diagnosis and give a single formula. As a developing practitioner, one of the most important skills to learn is the ability to make a focused diagnosis. Therefore learning how to give a single formula, which focuses on the root of the problem, is an invaluable skill.
- Make a more complex diagnosis and give two formulas together. Cooking two packets of Red Pine herbs together will last approximately 7-8 days. This is a common prescribing style in Taiwan, and can be used when there are 2 clear patterns that need to be addressed simultaneously.
- Give a single formula modified with single herbs. We carry a limited selection of single herbs for this purpose, and highly recommend Spring Wind for other needs. One can for example, consider carrying a core pharmacy of around 40 formulas along with 20-30 single herbs for modifications.
Deciding which formulas to carry
Finally, you need to decide which formulas to stock. You can pick and choose the formulas you like or opt for one our starter packs. We currently have four pharmacy starter packages that provide a variety of useful formulas conveniently bundled at a discounted rate.
1. Qin Bo-Wei's 56 methods starter pack ($499)
2. Classic formulas starter pack:
Choose 10 (5% off) - Practitioner choice starter pack (5 bags each of 10 formulas) or
Choose 20 (8% off) - Practitioner choice starter pack (5 bags each of 20 formulas)
When ordering, or as your practice grows, you may also want to consider the following:
Specialty: When deciding which formulas to carry, take into account your patient population and your specialty. For example, if you are treating mostly gynecology, or digestive disorders, or sleep issues, we recommend stocking up on multiple bags of formulas you tend to prescribe routinely.
Lineage: Focusing on a particular lineage or prescribing style can also be a very useful learning system for practitioners. Although most are familiar with classic formulas, we highly recommend considering Qin’s 56 methods, which cultivates a precise and focused approach to herbal prescribing. Read more about why to use Qin's 56 methods. Focusing just on Shang Han Lun formulas, for example, can also be a valuable approach.
Combining: Those who are more experienced or who like to take a broad approach to prescribing may choose to start with a collection of simple base formulas, such as Si Jun Zi Tang, Si Wu Tang, Er Chen Tang, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Gui Zhi Tang, Xiao Chai Hu Tang, etc., which can be combined or easily modified to create more complex formulas.
Custom orders: If you have your own tried and true favorite formulas that work well for your patients, your climate, etc. or if there is a formula you love that we don’t currently carry, we are happy to make them for you (8 bag minimum). We will package your custom prescription in our standard professional vacuum-sealed packaging with your name/company name on the label if you would like (for example, “Peaceful Sleep, A John Smith, L.Ac. Custom Formula”). Please email us at email@example.com to place your order.
Once you decide which formulas you want to stock, maintenance is easy. Our vacuum sealed bags are shelf-stable, so no special storage is required. Simply order more herbs as needed. We recommend keeping fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang) in your office to add to patient formulas as needed, especially if you are using Shang Han Lun formulas.