What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
Herbal Medicine is an important part of East Asian Medicine, and can be used alone or in combination with acupuncture. The herbs we use include plant, mineral, and animal materials. Most of our most commonly used 360 herbs are plant matter.
Typically herbs are prescribed in combinations called formulas. They come in several forms including pills, tablets, capsules, granules or powders mixed with hot water, and raw form that are cooked into a tea. I usually prescribe customized formulas comprised of granules and powders and taken in hot water as a tea. These are easy to use and are stronger in efficacy than pills, or capsules. Formulas can be custom made vegetarian.
Where do you get your herbs?
Here in the West, we have many sources for quality herbs that are governed by Good Manufacturing Practices. I prescribe herbs that undergo rigourous quality and safety and authenticity testing. I only use suppliers that attest to these standards.
Are the herbs safe?
Herbs are safe when prescribed by a health care practitioner who has received specific training in Chinese or East Asian Herbal Medicine. Not all acupuncturists are trained in herbs. Look for someone who is Board Certified in Chinese Herbology by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). While some medications may interfere with the efficacy of herbs, or herbs may interfere with the efficacy of some medications, for the majority of medications they are safe to take concurrently. Your herbalist may recommend a different time to take them or may advise against herbs based on your medications. Also, through our training, we fit a prescription to the person’s overall health picture. This medicine is not one size fits all! Having a pharmacy of individual herbs allows me to adjust ingredients and dosages suitable to each patient.
How long do I need to take my herbs?
This truly depends on what your goals are and your overall health picture. Some formulas are taken for as little as 2 days, while some may require taking some amount over many months.
What can you treat with Chinese Herbal Medicine?
We treat everything from the common cold and flu and other viruses, to fatigue, digestive problems, menstrual disorders, menopausal syndrome, fertility challenges, issues during pregnancy and postpartum, anxiety, etc. The list goes on. This is because we are treating the person, and each person has unique imbalances that arise in symptoms or sometimes just in signs that the practitioner is trained to observe and diagnose. This system of medicine is wonderful for maintaining overall wellness and preventing illness as well because of the herbalist’s ability to diagnose the patient’s internal health status.
How does it work?
Herbs each possess specific expertise, but formulas possess the miraculous employ of a team.
– Xu Lingtai 徐靈胎, Qing dynasty.
Chinese herbs work by their unique properties that include taste, energetic temperature, affinities in the body, and more. Herbalists study the properties of hundreds of herbs as well as formulas that have been used for hundreds or thousands of years. Classical Herbal medicine is the style I practice, and this entails the use of formulas written around the year 200 AD that have been used by doctors ever since! Herbal medicine principles are based in the laws of nature and how those laws apply to and operate within the human organism. This makes this system always relevant and never outdated when properly interpreted and applied.