Herbal Medicine is the main stream treatment method within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is the world’s oldest, continually practiced professional medicine. Its written history stretches back over 2,500 years and its practice is probably much older than that. Although acupuncture was the first Chinese method of treatment to gain wide acceptance in the West, Chinese herbal medicine is quickly establishing itself as one of the most popular and effective alternative therapies in the West.
What’s the difference between Western folk herbalism and Chinese herbal medicine?
Western folk herbalism primarily treats diseases or symptoms, such as headaches, runny nose, menstrual pain, etc. Chinese herbal medicine, when practiced as part of TCM, is based on an individualized pattern diagnosis as well a disease diagnosis. Your pattern is made up of your signs and symptoms, your emotional temperament and the overall composition of your body. The Patient receives a custom written herbal prescription designed to treat their individual pattern as well as the symptom or disease.
Are there any other differences?
Western folk herbalism usually focuses on one symptom or disease at a time and use a single or group of herbs for treatment. TCM formulas are crafted to treat your entire pattern as well as the symptoms or diease that prompted you to seek treatment. TCM formulas may include six to eighteen herbs to treat the symptoms or disease as well as your entire pattern.
Are all the “Herbs” vegetable in origin ?
Chinese herbal medicine may include vegetable, and mineral ingredients, however, the majority of ingredients are from vegetable sources. Leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, roots, tubers, rtizommes, and bark are among the parts of the vegetable used.
Do all the herbs come from China ?
The Chinese adopted and incorporated herbs from all over the world . Fifteen to twenty percent of the 500 ingredients considered standard originated from outside China. What makes these Chinese herbs is that they are prescribed according to Chinese medical theory and a TCM pattern diagnosis.
Does Chinese herbal medicine work for Western patients ?
Yes Chinese herbal medicine works as well for Westerners as it does for Chinese. Chinese herbal medicine has been used successfully in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and all throughout Asia.
How are Chinese herbal medicines taken?
The most common method of taking Herbs is by drinking a liquid, prepared by boiling the selected herbs. There are also herbal pills, tinctures, and powdered extracts for those who do not have the time or taste for drinking the more traditional liquid form.
What are the benefits of drinking Chinese herb medications in liquid form?
This method allows the practitioner maximum flexibility in writing a prescription. They can put in just what is necessary and just the right amounts. The formula can be changed frequently if necessary, and the liquid forms tend to be more potent than other means of administration.
Why do liquid herbal medicines taste so bad ?
Chinese herbal teas tend to taste very bitter because they are made mostly from roots and bark where the strongest medical ingredients are found. The bitter taste may go away quickly.
What are the benefits of pills and powders?
Pills and powders are good for:
- Prolonged administration, for chronic disese
- Where formulas do not need to be very potent
- Where formulas do not need to be changed very often
Pills and powders are also commonly used to continue therapeutic results after a successful initial treatment with liquid herbal medicine.
What is Chinese herbal medicine good for?
Chinese herbal medicine treats the full range of human disease. It is used to treat:
Acute disease like intestinal flu and the common cold chronic disease, such as allergies, gynecological disorders, autoimmune diseases, and chronic viral diseases. Degenerative diseases due to aging Chinese herbal medicine is especially good for promoting the body’s ability to heal and recover from illness.
Can pregnant women take Chinese herbs?
A professional TCM practitioner can write prescriptions that are appropriate for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Can children take Chinese herbal medicines?
Yes again. Pediatrics is a specialty within TCM and children can be given reduced dosages. There are also specially prepared pediatric medicines in pill and powder form. Chinese herbal medicine can treat colic, the fussiness of teething, earache, diarrhea, cough, and fever in babies and children.
How long does it take to see results with Chinese herbal medicine?
In acute conditions results may occur in a matter of minutes. In chronic conditions some results should be seen within two weeks. Although chronic conditions may require taking Chinese herbal medicine for a long time, signs that the medicine is working should be apparent to the patient and practitioner alike almost from the very start.
What are the advantages of Chinese herbal medicine?
The most significant advantages of the Chinese Herbal Medicine are:
- Thousands of years in usage
Like western medications, Chinese herbal medicines can relieve symptoms. However, they also nourish and regulate the Qi, blood, and body fluids thereby aiding the function of internal organs to alleviate the root cause of the disease e.g. support the immune system to heal the bronchitis.
Ingredients of herbs
Chinese herbal medicine includes plants and mineral ingredients. The majority of ingredients are from natural plants which include roots, stems, twigs, tubers, rhizomes, bark, leaves, flowers. There are no chemical additives involved. Each kind of herbal formula normally contains about 12 herbs, selected for their synergistic qualities. It is the selection and combination process that enables each formula to be individually designed.
How are the herbs taken?
Chinese Herbs have been called the "bitter and sour medicine". The commonly seen forms for internal treatment are decoction (strong teas), syrup and pill. The concentrated pills are most commonly used since they eliminate the need for drinking bitter teas, are small in size and dosage, convenient to use.
Do I have to stop taking other medicines?
Normally there is no reaction between Chinese herbs and prescription drugs. However since little information is available on interactions, caution and consulting a trained herbalist is important. Herbs should be taken apart from the prescribed medication if possible to limit any interaction. It is advisable that patients inform their Doctor that they are seeing a Chinese Herbalist, and that no medication is stopped unless advised to do so. The dosage of a prescription medication may need to be adjusted as the need the the drug decreases.