Chinese herbal medicines are used internally and externally. For both types herbs can be prepared by water or alcohol extraction, baking, boiling, frying, or grinding.
External types are liniments, powders, extracts, pastes or salves, and plasters. Often herbs are ground and mixed with a binder, such as sesame oil, to make the salve or paste andthen used in this form. Plasters were made by applying the paste to leaves or other material suitable for use against the skin. Modern commercially prepared plasters usually have adhesive to hold them in place. External formulas are used for bruises, sprains, open wounds, burns and swellings and other dermatological conditions.
Internal formulas are prepared as powders, teas (AKA decoctions), extracts, and pills. Powders are most often taken as drafts (stirring the powder into water and drinking the mix) or large gummy pills (6-9g) made by mixing in honey. Teas are boiled from 10 minutes to an hour. Extracts are made with water or alcohol or oil. Pills are made with both traditional and modern processes.