What is Chinese herbal medicine?
Chinese herbs are natural time-tested remedies made up of plant, mineral and animal parts used to create balance in the body. These herbs were traditionally boiled into a tea, but are also available in pill, capsule, tincture or granular form.
Up to 80% of modern pharmaceuticals have their origins in compounds derived from plants and animals.
Compared to Western pharmaceuticals, Chinese herbs treat the root cause of your illness and not just your symptoms. Most medicinal plants contain an active component, as well as other chemical components that balance any potential side effects. When the active chemical in a plant is isolated and concentrated, other important compounds that balance the effects are lost. Western medications often work very quickly, but can have unpleasant side effects. Most Chinese herbs have no side effects when used in their whole plant form. They must be taken consistently for one week to several months, depending on the ailment. Because the plant is in its whole form, Chinese herbs must be consumed in larger doses and more frequently. Chinese herbs can work in conjunction with your prescription drugs.
How does it work?
Most herbs are of plant origin though some animal and mineral substances may also be used. You may find some in your kitchen, such as ginger, garlic and cinnamon, while others such as chrysanthemum and peony flowers, are more likely to be found in your garden! Many of the substances used will be unfamiliar to you and have names like chai hu (bupleurum), di huang (rehmannia), and huang qi (astragalus). Every herb acts on one or more organs, has a thermal property (cool herbs drain heat), and specific actions on the body. All of our herbs are tested for safety and quality control.
What can herbal medicine treat?
In addition to providing effective treatment for a wide range of health disorders, Chinese herbal medicine may also be used to assist with general health maintenance and disease prevention.
A snapshot of conditions typically treated with Chinese herbal medicine includes:
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Loss of appetite and common digestive disorders
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Common cold and influenza
- Chronic headaches
- Skin disorders
- Fluid retention
- Anxiety, depression and stress
- Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
- Premenstrual syndrome and painful menstruation
- Excessive menstruation
- Impotence and prostate disorders
- Disorders associated with menopause
How safe are Chinese herbs?
Chinese herbal medicine is extremely safe when formulas are recommended by a licensed and board-certified herbalist. All of the herbs in our clinic meet manufacturing guidelines known as Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). You can be sure that all of the herbs we carry are tested for authenticity, potency, purity, and safety. Herbal medicine can treat everything that pharmaceuticals can, often with fewer side effects. Many pharmaceuticals are derived from herbs. Both herbal and pharmaceutical medicine can be used in conjunction. Herbs are recommended based on your specific constitution and imbalance. To find a safe and effective fit, see our herbalist.
How are herbal formulas prescribed?
Herbs and acupuncture work together to reset your body’s patterns and treat the root cause of your imbalance. Herbs are prescribed and customized to your specific diagnostic pattern.
Your herbalist will prescribe an herbal formula for you based on your symptoms, body constitution, tongue and pulse diagnosis. Rather than using a single herb, Chinese herbal formulas combine 4-15 herbs that work synergistically. This enhances the bioavailability of active components, promotes therapeutic effects, and reduces any potential side effects. Your herbalist will modify your formula as your symptoms improve, or as you enter new phases of your herbal treatment plan.
Are there any side effects?
Because we use whole parts of plants, the body is able to digest and respond more efficiently to a formula. Many herbs are foods and spices, so there are few to no side effects, and comparatively few drug interactions.
What ways can I take herbs?
We offer herbs herbal medicine as tinctures, pills or raw herbs to be cooked into a decoction.
- Tinctures are concentrated alcohol extractions of herbal formulas. They are small but mighty, generally requiring 2 full droppers 2x/day for effectiveness.
- Pills are herbal formulas that have been cooked and compressed to be easy to take on the go. Because pills are smaller, the dose can seem higher, ranging from 8-12 pills/day.
- Raw herbs are dried, whole herbs that are brewed into a strong tea called a decoction. Herbal decoction is the most effective, bioavailable way to take herbs, and allows your herbalist to customize a formula just for your body’s constitution. The ritual of cooking herbs connects you to the healing process and yields potent medicine.
“Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favor compared with the products of nature, the living cell of the plant, the final results of the rays of the sun, the mother of all life.” – Thomas Edison