Frequently Asked Questions about Herbs

Do I need a prescription for Chinese herbs?
Generally, herbal formulas must be submitted by a health care provider such as a licensed acupuncturist (LAc), naturopath (ND), or medical doctor (MD). This is to ensure both the safety and effectiveness of our products. A few herbs such as cinnamon and ginger are considered “food grade” and are available by request without a prescription.

Will my insurance pay for herbs?
This will depend upon the individual policy, so it is worth asking your insurance provider. Specifically, we’re seeing more and more "health savings account" holders using their benefits in the OCOM Herbal Medicinary.

Do you sell medical marijuana?
Chinese medicine does not include the study or prescription of marijuana, nor is the OCOM clinical team legally authorized to prescribe or dispense medical marijuana.

Do you sell endangered animal products such as shark fin or tiger bone?
Of course not. It is illegal under the Endangered Species Act to import such products for sale in the U.S., and our herb suppliers rely on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) for guidance. We never dispense endangered, threatened, or otherwise unethically sourced Chinese medicinals.  

Do you have something to treat my condition?
Chinese herbal formulas are always customized to match the individual needs of each patient. For example, there is no single formula for migraine headaches. There are, in fact, several, and your practitioner’s job is to determine which one will best treat your migraines. This is why, when you ask for a treatment at the medicinary, we’ll usually suggest you make an appointment with an herbalist in our OCOM Clinic.

Do you carry "certified organic" herbs?
More and more Chinese herbs are becoming available in organic and wildcrafted forms. We source all of our herbs from companies that lab-test for over 200 pesticide and heavy metal contaminants. Laboratory test results for the vast majority of our herbs are available upon request.  

Where do your herbs come from?
All of our herbs are imported from China.

Why aren’t Chinese herbs being grown here in the U.S.?
Most Chinese herbs are indigenous to China and southeast Asia. Some Chinese herbs grow well in North America, while others (such as cinnamon and ginger) grow much better in native soil. Additionally, the Chinese farming network and infrastructure is massive. Setting up large-scale growing operations in this country is possible, but far from able to cultivate the volume necessary to meet market demand. Finally, growing herbs in the U.S. is still very expensive. Until a stronger industry is established stateside and international economics shift to favor more domestic production, we’ll continue to see the majority of our herbs imported from China.

What is the history of Chinese medicine?
Chinese medicine has a written history that traces back more than 2,000 years and a growing scientific evidence base generated over the past 40 years. Learn more about Chinese medicine.

Where can I learn more?
If you want to learn more about a specific issue or how to integrate Chinese herbs into your health care, schedule an herbal consultation in one of OCOM's clinics, visit our Bookstore, or explore the vast resources of the OCOM Library.