What is Chinese herbal medicine?
Chinese herbs are natural time-tested remedies made up of plant, mineral and animal parts used to create balance in the body. These herbs were traditionally boiled into a tea. But due to the bitter taste and inconvenience of boiling tea for an hour, the herbs are more readily available in pill, capsule, tincture or granular form.
Compared to Western pharmaceuticals, Chinese herbs treat the root cause of your illness and not just your symptoms. Most medicinal plants contain an active component, as well as other chemical components that balance any potential side effects. When the active chemical in a plant is isolated and concentrated, other important compounds that balance the effects are lost. Western medications often work very quickly, but can have unpleasant side effects. Most Chinese herbs have no side effects when used in their whole plant form. They must be taken consistently for one week to several months, depending on the ailment. Because the plant is in its whole form, Chinese herbs must be consumed in larger doses and more frequently. Chinese herbs can work in conjunction with your prescription drugs.
How does it work?
When you come in for an herbal consultation, your practitioner will ask you about your symptoms, and go through a thorough intake of your overall health. She will ask questions about your sleep, digestion and emotional state. Then she will observe your voice, the brightness in your eyes, your odor, fingernails, hair, posture, gait and skin which all give valuable clues about your state of health. Finally, your acupuncturist will look at your tongue and feel your pulse, the major diagnostic tools of Chinese medicine. After getting a complete picture of your health, she will recommend herbal formulas individualized for your body. As your condition changes and improves with treatment, the Chinese herbal treatment is also adjusted and modified until the desired health outcome is achieved.
Most herbs are of plant origin though some animal and mineral substances may also be used. You may find some in your kitchen, such as ginger, garlic and cinnamon, while others such as chrysanthemum and peony flowers, are more likely to be found in your garden! Many of the substances used will be unfamiliar to you and have names like chai hu (bupleurum), di huang (rehmannia), and huang qi (astragalus). Every herb acts on one or more organs, has a thermal property (cool herbs drain heat), and specific actions on the body. All of our herbs are tested for safety and quality control.
Who would benefit?
In addition to providing effective treatment for a wide range of health disorders, Chinese herbal medicine may also be used to assist with general health maintenance and disease prevention.
A snapshot of conditions typically treated with Chinese herbal medicine includes:
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Loss of appetite and common digestive disorders
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Common cold and influenza
- Chronic headaches
- Skin disorders
- Fluid retention
- Anxiety, depression and stress
- Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
- Premenstrual syndrome and painful menstruation
- Excessive menstruation
- Impotence and prostate disorders
- Disorders associated with menopause
“Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favour compared with the products of nature, the living cell of the plant, the final results of the rays of the sun, the mother of all life.” – Thomas Edison