CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE
Herbal medicine is the main branch or treatment method in traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. It’s written history dates back 2,500 years, with evidence that it was practiced even earlier. It is quickly on its way to becoming one of the most effective and widely used alternative therapies in the US.
At Integrative Acupuncture we carry an extensive line of Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines in the form of tablets, capsules and teas, medicated oils, liniments and lotions.
Learn more about the products we use
Chinese medicinal herbs are natural and derived from either plant, mineral or animal sources. However the majority of these are from plants. All parts of the plant are used, including leaves, flowers, peel, roots, bark twigs and seeds. Some of the herbs are common to us and used every day, for example ginger or cinnamon. Even though they are part of the Western herbal inventory, they are considered Chinese herbs because they are prescribed in Chinese herbal formulas as part of prescriptions for specific diagnosis.
Chinese herbal medicine is different from Western folk herbal treatments. Folk herbs treat specific symptoms and diseases with a “one size fits all” approach. Chinese herbal formulas are highly customized to each patient and their disease diagnosis or pattern. The TCM pattern takes into account the patient’s disease from a holistic approach, looking at their constitution, emotions and general well being.
Pills, Powders or Decoctions
Chinese medicinal herbs are primarily taken in three different forms – pills or capsules, powders mixed with water, or raw herbs that are decocted into a tea to drink.
Raw herbal decoctions
Medicinal formulas consisting of a variety of raw herbs are designed by your Chinese Medicine practitioner. The herbs that make up the formula are highly customized to each patient and their illness. The raw herbs are decocted on the stove with water into a tea. The patient drinks the tea twice a day. Raw herb formulations are the most potent and effective form of herbal medicine, both because the raw herb is used and because the formula is highly tailored to the needs of each patient, adding herbs or increasing quantities of herbs specifically needed while deleting or lowering the amounts of other herbs.
Raw herbal decoctions typically taste very bitter and some patients find them difficult to drink. The bad taste is usually from barks and roots of the herbs. This is where the strongest medicinal compounds are often located.
Powdered herb formula
Powdered herb concentrates offer a more palatable form of herbal formulation. Formulas typically consist of a number of herbs which again are customized to each specific patient's need and disease. Powder is mixed with water according to instructions given to the patient. The patient drinks the mixture twice a day. Taking this form of herbs is not only easier to drink because the taste is not bad but the powder and water mixture is faster and easier to prepare.
Patent formulas in pills or capsules
This is the most convenient form of herbs. This form of herbal medicine is typically not as potent and may be more suited for chronic diseases and conditions that require long term use. However, this type of formulation cannot be adjusted to fit specific needs of the patient. Additional formulations or other patents may need to be prescribed to get the desired results.
Other herbal media sometimes prescribed
Other ways to administer herbal medicine to the patient is in the form of herbal plasters or bandages and topical ointments or salves.
Safety and Side Effects
Chinese medicinal herbs are generally safe and much less potent than western pharmaceuticals. Most of the medicinal herbs in the Chinese Materia Medica have a very low toxicity as compared to common over-the-counter western drugs. Be sure to tell your Chinese Medicine Practitioner about all medications you are taking so that she can do a complete analysis to rule out any possible drug-herb interactions. Unlike Western pharmaceuticals which have multiple side effects, if the herbal formula is correctly there are no side effects, only healing benefits. Occasional patients may experience mild diarrhea or bloating when initially taking a formula. If you are taking an herbal formula and experience any discomfort, tell your practitioner and he or she will modify the formula until there are no side effects.
When to use Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese Herbal Medicine is used to treat a wide range of diseases, from acute problems like cold or flu, to chronic disease like degenerative or auto immune diseases. The overall goal of these herbal formulations is to promote the body’s capacity to heal itself, in addition to relieving symptoms. Unlike Western medicine that treat specific diseases and symptoms only, Chinese herbal formulations treat the root, and restore balance and harmony between the body systems and organs while boosting immunity. The result is the body is in better state of health and will heal itself
For more information on how Chinese Herbal Medicine can help you, give us a call or stop by for a free 15 minute consultation!