If your stockbroker told you to invest your entire life savings in a single investment, you'd look for a new broker. Experience, as well as common sense, tells us not to put all of our eggs in one basket. But conventional western medicine still generally puts all its faith in a single "magic bullet" prescription (or over-the-counter medicine) for any single health problem.
Both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and Ayurvedic medicine, tend to favor formulas over individual herbs. European herbal tradition places more emphasis on individual herbs, but uses a number of formulas as well. In TCM especially, single herbs are rarely used, and only by experts. TCM much prefers formulas of 4-12 herbs, all working together, to solve any particular problem.
Every human body is different, and we don't all respond the same way to any single ingredient, whether herbal or pharmaceutical. So why do complex formulas work better than single herbs? We believe that there are two main reasons.
First, if a person doesn't respond to one ingredient in a complex formula, they may respond to others. That makes the formula more predictably effective across a wide range of individuals than individual herbs.
Second, if a person has a negative reaction to an herb in a formula, it is likely to be a much weaker reaction, since the dose of most herbs is smaller in a formula. This makes formulas safer in practice than most individual herbs, especially in an over-the-counter application where people are trying herbs they may not have taken before.
A well-balanced formula is like a well-balanced investment portfolio-- it is both safer, and more predictably effective, than betting the whole farm on a single investment. But as soon as you go beyond the realm of time-honored traditional formulas, selecting and dosing different ingredients in a new formula can be a real challenge. What ingredients do you use, and in what proportions, and in what overall dose? While many TCM practitioners and texts suggest that smaller doses can be used in formulas than would be used for individual herbs taken alone, they are silent about how to combine or dose the ingredients except in the traditional formulas.
Our patent-pending method of "Portfolio®" formulation is designed to solve that problem by creating a theoretical and mathematical framework for selecting and dosing several herbs to address a single health concern. For more information, see Portfolio® formulas.