Chinese Herbal Medicine
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine consists of 5,767 substances derived from plant, animal, and 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 has medicine has been created. During this time, classical herbal formulas that are effective for many health concerns have been developed. The herbs are available in the form of herbal teas, liquid extracts, tablets, capsules, granules, lotions, creams, salves, or poultices.
What is a Chinese Herbal Formula?
Individual substances are rarely prescribed alone in Traditional Chinese Medicine. A carefully balanced recipe of several different herbs is specifically tailored for each person’s entire health condition. Each herb is chosen for its own specific functions. In addition, herbs can enhance the strengths and reduce the side effects of each other. The combination of substances in a formula creates a new therapeutic agent that can treat much more effectively and completely that a single substance.
What is the difference between Western Herbs and Chinese Herbs?
Western Herbal Medicine tends to use one or two herbs to treat just a specific symptom. A Chinese Herbal formula has as many as 20 different herbs. The herbs are selected to work synergistically to treat the whole person. In Chinese medicine, due to our diagnostic system, we are able to assess a persons whole constitution (the health of their whole body) and treat the root (or cause) of a health concern along with a branch (or the symptoms) of a health concern. It is in this way that we are able to treat a person’s whole body and mind, rather than just a symptom.
Safety of Chinese Herbs
Chinese herbs are effective and safe when prescribed by a well-trained 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.
Selection of Quality Herbs
To be confident that the herbs that you use are of the highest potency, quality, and safety; only use herbs from manufacturers that are certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of the Australian government as having Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) – a hygiene guideline even more strict than in the United States.
Do not use endangered species (plant or animal), and promote wildlife conservation through the use of surrogate natural substances.