THE ancient art of Chinese medicine has taken root in Darlington.

Dr & Herbs, which opened in the Cornmill Centre almost three weeks ago, has already prescribed a mix of Oriental remedies for well over 500 people.

Professing to be good for everything from skin complaints to diabetes, treatments consist of acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal therapy. But it does not come cheap and you need staying power to complete a treatment course.

Following a free 20-minute consultation with a qualified Chinese medicine doctor, a diagnosis is made through examination of the tongue and checking one or more of the 125 different pulse rates the doctor has been trained to differentiate.

A lifestyle health check is completed and a prescription drawn up using a mixture of some of the 180 different herbs nestling in glass jars behind the shop counter.

Piling what looks like a woodland feast on to seven paper plates - one plateful each day - the mix is then poured into separate brown bags with patients instructed to boil them up with water once they get home.

Chinese acupuncture - used to revitalise the life force within a person - can also be prescribed.

The only downside, said Dr & Herbs area manager Dr Wen Ye, was the taste of the liquid which must be drunk twice a day.

"The tea is absolutely disgusting to drink," he confessed to the D&S Times, "but when you know it is going to work and you will feel better after it, you can bear it.

"It's no good trying it for one day and giving up. You must stick with it and drink it for as long as it takes."

Chinese medicine dates back 5,000 years. Reported to be a truly natural form of healing which treats the whole body rather than just the symptoms, it claims to be far safer than Western medicine.

"We usually use about 12 to 15 different herbs for each prescription depending on the illness and recommend acupuncture if we believe it will help," Dr Ye added.

"For things like colds or hayfever, people may only need to drink the tea for one or two days to get relief, but for other illnesses it may take longer. Normally after four days, a patient will see an improvement. We know that on average between 80pc and 90pc of people feel better after taking a course of Chinese treatment and it is even higher for those suffering from stress-related illnesses.

"In China, people have the choice of being treated in a general hospital or a traditional Chinese medicine hospital.

"People with heart conditions benefit from both as the government pays for both sets of treatment."

* Dr & Herbs, run by UK company Tian Tian, opened its first shop in Luton five years ago, It now has more than 50 outlets nationwide.

A one-to two-day treatment of herbs works out at about £5 per bag, acupuncture £30 per session and treatments in tablet form £10 per week.

For more information, visit or call the shop on 01325 389888