Herbs have been prescribed in China for thousands of years. In fact, the origin of over three hundred commonly used formulas dates back over 2,000 years. Herbal prescriptions are based on emperical evidence. Through centuries of careful documentation of clinical experience, extensive information has been gathered detailing not only the properties of single herbs, but also how herbs interact together in formulas.
Today in China, herbal formulas are often used instead of Western medications, or in conjunction with them to increase efficacy and reduce side effects.
That’s right, in China herbs and pharmaceuticals are used together!
During my doctoral studies in the gynecology department of Zhe Jiang University hospital, I was amazed by the true integration of herbal and Western prescriptions. For example, traditional herbal formulas for fertility were given with a common Western medication to stimulate egg growth while improving the uterine lining and cervical fluid.
Herbs have a wide variety of actions and indications. They are used to treat chronic conditions such as arthritis, and acute disorders such as urinary tract infections.
- Antibiotic and antiviral herbal formulas treat colds and flus, ear infections, sinus infections etc.
- Several herbs are tonics, meaning they strengthen the constitution, maintain wellness and treat illness. Many fertility formulas are comprised of tonic herbs.
- Herbs can relieve inflammation, swelling and pain. These herbs are combined into formulas and prescribed for acute and chronic pain conditions like: headaches, back spasms, nerve pain, etc.
- Herbs can be used as digestive aids. Some act to increase the digestion of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Others prevent bloating, treat heartburn or regulate the bowels.
- Sedative herbs are used for anxiety and insomnia. They are able to induce calmness without reducing mental activity.
- Herbs used for asthma, acute and chronic coughs have expectorant, dilatory, anti-tussive and sedative properties.
Who prescribes herbs?
Chinese herbal products should only be prescribed by practitioner who have extensive training in Chinese single herbs and formulas. A licensed acupuncturist in California has spend hundreds of hours studying traditional and modern uses of Classical Chinese herbs.
Once herbal therapy has begun, how long should it continue?
Sometimes a practitioner will prescribe herbal formulas on a short-term basis for acute ailments. For example, herbs for sinus infections may only be taken for a week or two. The length of treatment time for chronic diseases can vary from one month to several months. It depends on the nature and duration of the illness, as well as the patient’s ability to change lifestyle and dietary habits that may contribute to the illness.
How are herbs administered?
We prescribe herbal formulas that come in a prepared form, such as capsules, tablets or tinctures If the best formulation is not available in a ready-made form, we will make it for you! As trained herbalists, we can custom-make a concentrated herbal formula in powdered form. This method can be useful for any patient, but is particularly helpful when treating fertility, when a patient may take a different herbal formula during each phase of her menstrual cycle. Herbal prescriptions may be changed frequently over a course of treatment in order to obtain the desired result.
How safe are Chinese herbs?
Recently there have been concerns raised about the purity of Chinese herbs in terms of their pharmaceutical, heavy metal and pesticide content. Single herbs and formulas from reputable manufacturers in China and the United States ARE SAFE, when taken as prescribed. We only prescribe herbal products that have been tested for heavy metals, molds, pesticides, fumigants and bacteria, pharmaceuticals, etc. However, one should only take these preparations when prescribed by a health care provider who has undergone extensive training in Chinese herbal medicinals.
Still worried? For more information about drug-herb side effects, the manufacturing of Chinese herbal products and the safety of specific Chinese herbs go to http://www.itmonline.org/safety.htm.
Herbal medicine is one modality we provide, just as acupuncture and dietary therapy are other healing modalities. All of them come from the tradition of Oriental medicine. These modalities can be used together for a synergistic effect. Most patients prefer this method of treatment. Occasionally, we have patients who prefer to use just one or two modalities of treatment. For example, some patients forgo acupuncture and just want herbal and dietary therapy. We are happy to provide this style of individualized care.
Simply schedule an appointment to start down your road to better health!