About Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese herbal medicine is a major aspect of traditional Chinese medicine, which focuses on restoring a balance of energy, body, and spirit to maintain health rather than treating a particular disease or medical condition.
In the system of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine every substance we ingest be it food or medicine affects us in one way or another both physically and mentally. Oftentimes this can be too subtle to detect. However, when taken in concentrated doses and with enough regularity and sufficiency herbs can tangibly and remarkable effect one’s consciousness. Many Chinese herbal formulas work on our mental emotional capacity and can:
- Make you feel psychologically lighter
- Relax and calm your thoughts
- Open your perspective on yourself and life
- Engender patience and calmness
- Boost confidence levels
- Induce more peaceful sleep
Each food or herb, is classified according to the properties it has in terms of effect of the body’s temperature, does it make you warmer or colder? The affect it has in regards to taste, is it bitter, sour, sweet pungent etc? (Taste refers less to the flavor and more to the action, for instance sour tastes causes the body to gather in and hold things – think of what happens if you bite into a lemon, your mouth sucks itself in and shrivels), which part of the body does it affect, and how fast does it take action.
Once you have this understanding of herbs and their properties you can quickly see the sense in many of the prescriptions a herbalist may make. For instance, if you are suffering from a cold condition, take a herb that creates warmth. If you’re too warm, take a cooling herb. If you blood is moving too fast, you take a herb to slow it, if it’s moving too slowly you take one to move it faster. This explains a little in regard to the question, "How does Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine Work?"
Widely regarded as a wonderful complement to acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine provides continual therapeutic input into the body between acupuncture treatments. In so doing it maintains and builds upon the positive momentum created by acupuncture and can further enhance the treatment results.
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine draws on ancient practices -- herbal medicine is as old as humanity itself. Early human beings were hunter-gatherers whose survival depended on their knowledge of their environment. Direct experience taught them which plants were toxic, which ones imparted strength and sustained life, and which had special healing qualities.
These early discoveries were passed along until thousands of years and millions of human trials brought about the evolution of an incredibly sophisticated system of diagnosis and herbal medicine.
Thousands of medicinal substances are used in China today. Indeed, more than a million tons of herbs are used each year in China. Thirty herbs, mostly tonics, account for more than 50 percent of this figure, with licorice topping the list at 86,000 tons.
Are herbs safe?
Chinese herbs are very safe when prescribed correctly by a properly trained practitioner. Over the centuries doctors have compiled detailed information about the pharmacopoiea and placed great emphasis on the protection of the patient. Adverse reactions can occur with any form of medicine. In the case of Chinese herbal medicine these are rare. RCHM members give guidance on this to all patients. The RCHM also works with the Bristol Chinese Herb Garden and with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in building botanical knowledge of high quality herbal medicines.
Can it be taken with other forms of medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine in general, including Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can be combined with or used alongside other medical therapies and disciplines, such as western medicine. Your Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner will not ask you to stop taking any Western Medicines that the doctor has prescribed for you.
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