Chinese Herbal Medicine might be able to help you if you have multiple symptoms or symptoms that are vague or hard to pinpoint. It may be able to help you if you have exhausted conventional medicine options or need to counteract side effects of medications. It can also be used a preventative medicine or for conditions that defy a Western medical diagnosis because it uses a different way at looking at health and disease.
Here are some conditions that are commonly well treated with Chinese Herbal Medicine:
- Decrease cold/flu symptoms
- Increase your energy
- Improve your breathing
- Improve digestion
- Improve your sleep
- Decrease pain
- Improve menopausal symptoms
- Help regulate menstrual cycles (if infertility is an issue)
- Clear up stubborn dermatological problems
Chinese herbal medicine is an important part of traditional Chinese medicine. It has been used for centuries in China, where herbal medicine is considered a primary therapy for many health issues. Like acupuncture, Chinese herbs can address unhealthy body patterns that are the root cause of a variety of symptoms and complaints. The goal is to help you regain balance in your body and to strengthen your body’s resistance to disease. Doing this will help resolve your symptoms.
How is Chinese Herbal Medicine Different?
Most forms of Western herbology and conventional medicine work in a this for that manner. If you have x condition (say a headache for example), take this medicine (aspirin, ibuprofen, or some other pain medication). While this approach can work well to get rid of the headache in the moment, it has not done anything to correct the imbalances in the body that have caused the headache.
This is the main difference between Chinese herbal and conventional medicine. It is rare that a person presents with just one symptom or complaint. More common is a variety of symptoms. If we continue with the headache example, a headache might happen along with digestive upsets, or neck pain, or around the menstrual cycle, or after an accident where the person hit their head. It might happen at a certain time of day, season, or day of the week. It likely happens on the same area of the head every time. (One of my favorite answers to where is your headache? On my head.)
There is a reason for all of these questions when using Chinese herbal medicine. The constellation of symptoms, history, and other diagnostic tools we use (like feeling the pulse and looking at the tongue), allow us to determine the underlying pattern of disharmony in the way your body is functioning.
This is a major difference from conventional diagnosis. Instead of honing in on one particular symptom as a standalone problem, we are looking at the body, mind, and spirit as a whole functional person where the various systems must interact and communicate properly for good health. If there is a breakdown in the interaction, symptoms or disease results.
And this is the beauty of Chinese herbal medicine. The nuanced diagnosis allows us to prescribe an herbal formula that has been researched, used, and modified for thousands of years. The formula can be modified as needed to address your individual condition.
What is a Formula is and how it can help you?
Because most of the time patients have several symptoms with their pattern of disharmony, one single herb or ingredient simply cannot do the job.
To continue with the example of a headache sufferer, this person might be a woman who suffers from PMS symptoms, constipation around her period, neck pain, and a lot of stress. Her symptoms point to a specific pattern and the Chinese herbalist will need to use a combination of herbs to address it. Combining herbs in time tested combinations and formulas enhances their therapeutic effects and also increases the safety of use.
Thousands of years of trial and error, careful observation, and more recently pharmacological research have resulted in a reliable system of combining herbs and confirmed the efficacy and safety of using Chinese herbal formulas.
There are several ways to take Chinese herbs:
The traditional and most potent way to take Chinese herbal formulas is in a decoction, or tea. A decoction is made by cooking the raw herbs in water to pull out the active ingredients, then straining out the herbs and drinking the remaining liquid. This method is the fastest acting. It is also more expensive and some formulas don’t taste great.
Chinese herbs can also be taken as granules or granules in capsules. These are made by concentrating and freeze drying the decoctions. They are easier and more convenient to take and are less expensive. I tend to prefer using these if possible.
These herbs can also be found in tablet form or as “teapills” (which look a little bit like pellets or BB’s). I do not prefer these forms of herbs because they are not as potent and there can be quality control issues with teapills.
Where can I get Chinese herbs?
While there are a few well known formulas that can be purchased over the counter (mostly cold formulas), the only way to experience the true benefits of Chinese herbal therapy is to consult with a skilled, licensed practitioner.
If you are suffering from a health issue and wonder if Chinese herbal medicine can help you, please contact me at Spring Integrative Health for a free 15 minute consult.