• Chinese Herbal Medicine

    • Herbal therapy is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, with history predating the development of acupuncture. At the foundation of the Chinese herbal medicine lies the premise that certain natural substances possess innate energetic characteristics that can alter the body’s energies to correct various internal imbalances underlying disease. This therapeutic approach involves combining these natural substances into time-tested herbal prescriptions, called formulas, carefully designed for maximum efficacy in the treatment of various conditions.

      These prescriptions are based on the disease pattern diagnosis performed by the practitioner and customized to meet the unique needs of each patient by addressing their specific set of complaints as well as their individual constitution. As the patient’s health changes, the formula is also modified to best fit the patient’s current presentation. This approach is designed to stimulate the body’s own self-healing processes and correct internal imbalances at the root of disease, rather than to merely treat the symptoms.

      Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine work synergistically and naturally complement each other. Herbs greatly enhance the effect of acupuncture because they a redistribute and augment essential vital substances within the body, boost internal deficiencies, and eliminate toxin accumulation. A lot of conditions respond better to a combination of acupuncture and herbal therapy, since herbal formulas possess an ability to augment the therapeutic effects of acupuncture, and are instrumental in supporting the healing process between acupuncture treatments. Far from being a mere complement to acupuncture, however, Chinese herbal medicine has been proven over the centuries to constitute an exceptionally effective natural stand-alone therapeutic modality with minimal side effects.

      Are Chinese Herbs Safe?

      There are thousands of plants, minerals, and animal products herbs in the Chinese pharmacopia. What makes the use of Chinese herbs particularly safe and effective is the art of combining different ingredients to create a carefully balanced prescription formula containing anywhere from 3 to 20 herbs. These combinations are designed to augment the actions or to ameliorate adverse effects of certain herbs in the formula, resulting in a mutual synergy which increases the therapeutic efficacy and enhances the safety of the prescription.

      That being said, Chinese herbal medicine is only effective and safe when used correctly, and should only be prescribed by a competent licensed herbalist with extensive training in Chinese herbal medicine allowing them to correctly diagnose the patient’s condition, prescribe an appropriate herbal formula, closely monitor their progress, and modify the prescription as the condition changes.

      To ensure the best herbal care possible for my patients, I only use high quality herbs from suppliers committed to closely supervising the manufacturing process and screening the quality of their products. All products are I use in my practice are tested in independent labs to insure purity, safety, and bioavailability, including testing for heavy metals, microbial and pesticide contamination before they ever make it to my office. Organic ingredients are used as often as possible, and I do not purchase or prescribe herbs that contain common allergens or endangered species.

      What is Chinese Herbal Medicine Good For?

      Chinese herbal medicine treats a full range of ailments, ranging from acute conditions, like common cold, cough, intestinal flu or trauma, to chronic diseases, such as allergies, digestive disorders, headaches, gynecological disorders, autoimmune diseases, chronic viral infections, degenerative diseases and various pain conditions. In particular, herbal therapy is very effective in promoting and stimulating the body’s own ability to heal and recuperate. Nourishing and harmonizing herbal remedies serve as excellent tonics, strengthening those weakened by stress, work, serious illness, childbirth, menopause or poor diet and lifestyle choices. Herbal prescriptions treat the mind as well as the body, and are very effective in reducing such negative states as anxiety, emotional stress, depression, and insomnia.

      How Long Does it Take to See Results with Chinese Herbal Medicine?

      Herbs, like acupuncture, work gently with the body to bring it back to a state of balance. The beneficial effects of herbs may take a patient anywhere from one week to a month to perceive subjective changes, depending on the chronicity and severity of the condition. For acute conditions, results can be expected in a matter of minutes or hours. In chronic conditions, some results should be seen within two weeks. Although chronic conditions may require taking Chinese herbs for a long time, signs indicating that the medicine is working should be apparent to patient and practitioner almost from the start.

      Are All The Chinese Herbs Vegetable In Origin?

      Although called Chinese herbal medicine, ingredients not only from plants, but also animal and mineral products are commonly used in prescriptions. The majority of the natural substances, however, come from plant sources. Leaves, flowers, berries, twigs, stems, roots, tubers, rhizomes, and barks are commonly used. Please advise me of any dietary or religious limitations or prohibitions you might have and I will make sure to find an acceptable replacement for the substances in question.

      How Are Chinese Herbs Taken?

      Traditionally, Chinese herbs were taken as concentrated teas, known as decoctions, with the herbs cooked at a low boil for an hour or more, then strained and drunk 2-3 times per day. The herbal formulas can also be made into powders or rolled with honey to make herbal pills as an alternative for those who do not have the time to make traditional decoctions or can’t tolerate the taste. In my practice, I offer patients a variety of options, such as pills, granules, capsules, or raw herb prescriptions to meet their personal preference and help them comply with treatment recommendations.

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