What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine is a major component of traditional Oriental medicine, a comprehensive health care system used for over 3,000 years in China and throughout the world today.
Oriental medicine views the body as a dynamic, interrelated whole (mind, body, spirit) possessing a life force or vital energy called qi or chi (pronounced “chee”). Health depends on the free flow of qi. When disease occurs, therapy is applied to restore the balance and flow of the qi in the body and help the body heal itself.
Chinese herbal medicine is actually composed of over 5,000 plant, mineral and animal substances. Usually herbs are combined into formulas that address the main health problem and support the mind-body system.
Are Chinese Herbs Safe?
Chinese herbs are effective and safe when prescribed by a welltrained herbal practitioner. Careful attention to dosage,
combinations of herbs and any known drug-herb interactions, are covered in comprehensive Chinese herbal medicine education programs. In addition, the Chinese herbal profession is working with the FDA to ensure the quality and safety of Chinese herbs imported into this country.
Herbs are usually more gentle than pharmaceutical drugs because of their balancing or regulating effect on the body. However, side effects from herbs are possible. The most common problem is gastrointestinal upset, gas and bloating due to slight difficulty digesting the herbs. This or any other problem should be reported to the practitioner so he/she may change the formula.
To allow health care providers to provide effective and safe treatment, patients should inform Western medical physicians of the herbs they are taking as well as inform the herbal practitioner of any prescription medicines being used.
How are Herbs Administered?
The traditional method of preparing herbs is to cook the raw herbs in water to form a decoction or tea. Depending on the condition and circumstances, the herbal practitioner may recommend taking the herbs in pill form, as an extract or in a powdered or granulated form.
What to Expect At an Herbal Consultation
The Chinese herbal practitioner will take a comprehensive history of the patient’s general health and specific complaint, look at the tongue and take the pulse in order to form an Oriental medicine diagnosis.
After completing an evaluation, the practitioner may recommend an herbal formula consisting of several herbs. It is also possible that a Western medicine consultation and treatment may be recommended as well.
Conditions Treated by Chinese Herb
Chinese herbal medicine is a comprehensive form of medicine that can effectively address a wide variety of conditions. It has a long clinical history of treating acute and chronic conditions. It excels in treating
- Circulatory Conditions: hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis, anemia and some skin conditions.
- Emotional Conditions: anxiety, depression and mood swings.
- Gastrointestinal Conditions: acute and chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, gastritis, GERD, hernias & ulcers.
- Gynecological Conditions: irregular or painful menses, endometriosis, polycystic breasts or ovaries, uterine fibroids, infertility, miscarriage PMS, and menopausal symptoms.
- Musculoskeletal Conditions: migraine headaches, insomnia, dizziness, elbow, wrist, neck, shoulder, and low back pain.
- Neurological Conditions: Peripheral neuralgia, headaches, tinnitis, dizziness, insomnia, body pain such as fibromyalgia.
- Respiratory Conditions: Common colds/flu, chronic respiratory conditions such as allergies, asthma, emphysema, sinusitis, bronchitis, and psoriasis.
- Urogenital Conditions: Urinary tract and/or yeast infections, prolapse of organs, prostatitis and sexual dysfunctions.
Chinese Medicine Philosophy
Chinese Herbal Medicine has always been one of the most important aspects of Oriental Medicine. Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine consists of substances derived from plant or mineral sources. The use of these substances can be traced back to 1,000 BC. Over the past 3000 years, an incredibly rich and powerful system of medicine has been created. During this time, classical herbal formulas that are effective for many health concerns have been developed. Chinese herbs are categorized and combined according to their tastes and temperatures. This enables the herb or herbal formula to enter specific organs and achieve specific balancing actions in the body, making them much more holistic approaches than western pharmaceuticals.