There is a growing body of research which indicates that traditional uses of plant remedies and the known pharmacological activity of plant constituents often coincide. However, herbal medicine is distinct from medicine based on western pharmaceutical drugs.
Firstly, because of the complexity of plant materials it is far more balanced than medicine based on isolated active ingredients and is far less likely to cause side-effects. Herbal medicine is plants, and plants are food. We all know that natural foods are better at maintaining health, and that additives such as preservatives and other synthetics can have negative effects on the body. Now imagine an all natural food diet specifically designed to mediate your unique health issues. You've heard the saying "nature provides"? It very much applies in this case.
Secondly, because herbs are typically prescribed in combination, the different components of a formula balance each other, and they undergo a mutual synergy which increases efficacy and enhances safety. For instance, if a specific herb is used to warm your system, another herb may be included to control the amount of heat produced. Or, two herbs combined may aid your digestion. One to soothe your stomach while another strengthens its function.
Thirdly, herbal medicine seeks primarily to correct internal imbalances rather than to treat symptoms alone, and therapeutic intervention is designed to encourage this self-healing process. Herbal medicine guides your body to a homeostatic state where it relearns how to function properly on its own.
An herbal prescription is formulated specifically for the patient. Every body is different, so no single disease is the same from person to person. Herbal medicine is practiced with this in mind.
Are herbs safe?
In short, there are a wide array of theories as to how to explain the complex processes that take place in response to acupuncture. However, there is much on-going research into this question.
Chinese herbal medicines are very safe when prescribed correctly by a properly trained practitioner. Over the centuries doctors have compiled detailed information about the pharmacopoiea and placed great emphasis on the protection of the patient. Allergic type reactions are rare, and will cause no lasting damage if treatment is stopped as soon as symptoms appear.
My training includes study in western pharmaceuticals, and their potential interactions with certain herbs. As long as I am informed on what western drugs you are taking, the possibility of a negative reaction is very low.