Food and drink is the first type of medicine. Consuming different foods will have varying effects on your body and your health. This may seem obvious but this is the basis of herbal medicine. Over 3000 years, the Chinese have been meticulously experimenting with thousands of herbs and documenting the effects that they have on the body. Chinese Medical doctors have been testing how herbs work in combination and looking at how different herbs have different reactions to different people depending on their physical and psychological make up. With all of this vast knowledge, an expert Chinese Medical doctor can individually prescribe the exact combination of herbs to treat your conditions in a much more detailed way than Western pharmaceutical drugs.
Conventional drugs are often derived from herbs but the difference is that Western Pharmaceutical companies will synthesise a chemical version of what they consider to be the active ingredients. The purpose is to create a stable and identical pill that they know will have a specific effect on a body process. This form of medicine is young and has not gone through the same exhaustive experimentation process as the thousands of years of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Western drugs do not take into account the differences between people and pay less attention to the importance of balancing the effects of an active ingredient using a combination of medicinal compounds like those found in nature. Having said this, Western drugs can be very useful for short term treatment.