Why use Chinese herbs?
Chinese Herbal Medicine is a gentle and effective alternative to Western drugs—one relatively free of side effects. Chinese medicine is holistic, which means that herbal formulas are designed to treat the whole person, both mind and body. Hence, the patient will often notice improvement in overall health along with amelioration of specific symptoms or complaints.
In combination with acupuncture, Chinese herbal prescriptions play an important and effective role in the treatment of many conditions. The Chinese herbal tradition has evolved over thousands of years of clinical experience, during which time it has been constantly tested and refined. Through the ages, many classical formulas have been developed to treat specific disorders. This process of evolution continues even today, as new herbal formulas are developed to treat diseases which predominate in modern industrialized countries.
What are the substances used in herbal formulas?
Chinese medical texts contain references to many diverse items, including animal products and minerals, but most of the commonly used herbs come from plants.
Why are combinations of herbs superior to individual herbs?
Combinations of herbs are considered to be more effective than individual herbs because they have a more balancing effect on the body. A single herb might address only one aspect of a person's imbalance, but a formula can be tailored to address the full range of the imbalance on a constitutional level. A formula commonly contains from 4 to 16 ingredients chosen for their synergistic effect. A classical formula is usually used as a base, and herbs are added or subtracted to prepare a custom-made combination that addresses a patient's unique physiological imbalance.
At this time, herbal combinations are available in four different forms:
- Loose herbs, which are used to brew teas
- Tinctures, which are alcohol-based
Your acupuncturist will determine which form is suitable in each individual case.
Tonic Herbs: the Treasure of Chinese Medicine
Many Chinese herbal formulas contain special tonic herbs that can be taken daily to increase resistance to disease, enhance energy and prolong life. Ginseng and astragalus are perhaps the most widely known in this group. Others less commonly known include ligustrum, schizandra, he shou wu and ganoderma. These herbs are called "adaptogens" because they strengthen the body, enhancing its ability to adapt to stress. They have a particularly positive effect on the immune system and are being used successfully in the treatment of immune-related disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome (Epstein-Barr) and systemic candida, as well as in the management of ARC and AIDS.
Why is it important to obtain a proper diagnosis before taking Chinese herbs?
Many people take Chinese herbs, particularly the tonic ones, without properly understanding whether they are suitable for their condition or constitution. Most herbs have a gentle effect on the body, but their indiscriminate use over a long period of time, or even a short period in certain cases, may cause side effects. Such side effects rarely occur if the proper diagnosis has been obtained. It is also common for the diagnosis to change as the physiology moves toward a state of greater balance. The herbal prescription is then adjusted accordingly.
Your acupuncturist is highly trained in the art of diagnosis and herbal prescription and will recommend a formula that is appropriate for your constitution and disorder.