Herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years and is the basis of many of our traditional modern drugs. The active ingredient of certain medicines have been isolated from plants that have been known to have a therapeutic effect. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs which target a specific area and often have side effects, herbs typically act in a number of ways and many negative side effects of just 1 active ingredient may be neutralized by making use of the plant source, as nature intended.
Animals instinctively know the many benefits of herbs as they're observed self medicating eg. Dogs and cats eating grass when they have upset tummies.
Like acupuncture, herbal medicine is one of the five basic modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In TCM, good health is the result of a dynamic balance of the Yin (passive) and Yang (active) forces in the body. Yin is generally characterized as passive, low, dark, interior, cool, subtle. Yin foods/herbs are generally sour, bitter, salty, cool. Yang energy is usually high, bright, exterior, warm, bold. Yang herbals are pungent, sweet, hot.
A dis-eased body may be brought back into balance with judicious placement of acupuncture needles, or by balancing Yin/Yang forces with herbs. A simple example of this would be to balance a Yang excess digestive imblance (i.e. heartburn from too much spicy food) by giving Yin elements of baking soda or bitters.
Chinese herbal formulas are primarily plant based, but do often contain insect or animal components, such as ox bile or silk worm casings. The animal components were sometimes detrimental to endangered species, but all reputable Chinese herbal formulas now use effective substitutions for previously objectionable components, e.g. water-buffalo horn replaces rhinocerus horn.
Some medical conditions respond better to either AP or herbs, but in most instances they work well together to rebalance an ailing body.