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Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine is a rich tradition that has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions for thousands of years. Chinese herbal medicine also looks at the whole body to determine the underlying imbalance causing specific symptoms. Once the imbalance is determined, a formula is written to address the cause of the problem, that underlying imbalance, rather than to choose herbs according to the symptoms only.

Chinese herbs are not commonly taken alone, but within a formula made up of a number of herbs mixed together. Traditionally, a formula can have from three herbs to twenty or more herbs in combination. A combination of two herbs might have an effect which neither of the single herbs alone would do. One example of such a combination is the interaction between licorice (gan cao) and peony (bai shao). When used together at the same time, licorice and peony are effective at decreasing muscle spasms, but neither has that same effect if used alone. Many herb combinations and formulas have been documented over the history of Chinese Herbal medicine.

Usually, with Western herbs, one herb corresponds to one effect. For instance, echinacea may help to prevent worsening of a cold during its early stages. Chinese herbs are used to treat underlying patterns or groups of symptoms, and a balanced formula would be created to address the pattern of disharmony. Herbal formulas take into account the main symptoms being treated, the cause of the disease, as well as the patient`s individual constitution.

Modern research has proven many physiological effects of herbs, in both animal and human research studies. These studies generally involve the testing of one herb alone in controlled laboratory environments to prove a particular effect, such as antiviral properties, or antihypertensive properties. This type of research studying individual herbs can be useful; however, a key strength of Chinese herbal medicine is in the refinement and use of herbal combinations and formulas over thousands of years.

Chinese herbal medicine may be very useful to address the underlying cause for symptoms you may have. If we think Chinese herbs are something that would be beneficial for your condition, we will discuss the options at the time of your treatment.

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