Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs
Chinese Herbal Treatment
Chinese herbal medicine is often combined in the course of treatments. It has been used safely and effectively over 3,000 years as a powerful and accurate tool regulating the internal organs and immune system. CHM (Chinese Herbal Medicine) is typically prescribed in combination, not a single herb in large amounts.
The system of herbal medicine that developed in China differs in several significant ways from European herbal medicine. The most obvious difference is that the Western herbal tradition focuses on “simples,” or herbs taken by themselves. In contrast, Chinese herbal medicine makes almost exclusive use of herbal combinations. More importantly, these formulas are not designed to treat symptoms of a specific illness; rather, they are tailored specifically to the individual according to the complex principles of Chinese medicine. It is not the origin of the herbs but how they are prescribed.
These herbal formulas are complex and takes years of practice to master. Contraindications and specific amounts of each herb must be taken into account to have an appropriate formula. Therefore, herbal formula should be prescribed only by a licensed and trained professional who recognizes the benefits and risks. CHM is available in liquid, granule, capsule, or tablet form.
Prescription medications can treat some diseases faster than traditional herbal methods. The negative of this is that these synthetic medications are so concentrated and powerful that the side effects are sometimes worse than the benefits.
Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine
According to the principles of all Chinese medicine, health exists when the body is balanced and its energy is freely flowing. In an ideal state, yin and yang in all their forms are perfectly balanced in every part of the body. However, external or internal factors can upset this balance, leading to disease.
The term “energy” refers to “chi”, the life energy that is said to move the body. The term “balance” refers to the relative factors of yin and yang—the classic Taoist opposing forces of the universe. Yin and yang find their expression in various subsidiary antagonists such as cold vs. heat, dampness vs. dryness, descending vs. ascending, at rest vs. active, and full vs. empty.
Chinese medical diagnosis and treatment involves identifying the factors that are out of balance and attempting to bring them back into harmony. It is important to realize that diagnosis according to CHM differs greatly from Western diagnosis.
To understand this, consider two hypothetical patients with the single Western diagnosis of migraine headaches. The first might be said to have “dryness in the liver and ascending Chi,” while another might be diagnosed with “exogenous wind-cold.” Based on these differing diagnoses, entirely different remedies might be applied. In other words, there is no such thing as a CHM remedy for migraine, rather, treatment must be individualized to the imbalance determined by traditional theory.