Chinese Herbs

Herbal medicine has been the norm for all cultures and societies since homo sapiens evolved. In fact, it is all any species had until only the last 150 years or so. The more “modern” societies, particularly the United States, have turned away from their pharmaceutical roots in favor of those treatments that have the research to support them. This research, of course, does not make these products much safer and effective, as we more often see, but there is the preference now for speed. People want to be better yesterday and not be involved in their health care. If you have these sentiments this site may be a challenge for you but also a great one to learn another perspective. In the case of critical health conditions and severe, acute emergencies modern pharmaceuticals are absolutely necessary. For more routine cases and chronic or preventative care, more natural, and yes slower, approaches may be best in the long run.
In ancient times each village or community had their own folk remedies. These were largely dependent on the region as people did not travel far. They lived, ate and cured “local” which is a concept we are bringing back into style. Just as every other behavior and process evolved over time so did herbal medicine. People traveled farther as the Chinese empire expanded and knowledge and herbs traveled with them. However, even today, there are many herbal masters in the more remote areas that have their particular, secret formulas and are reluctant to share them. It is known today that when the herb comes from its native area and not transplanted it will exhibit it strongest characteristics and produce the best results. This is called “dao di”.
Outside China the number of herbs available following traditional formulas is limited mainly due to the fact that we don’t widely speak or read Chinese. But we still have hundreds or thousands to use. They are prescribed according to their nature, flavor, temperature and the organs to which they travel. Perhaps this sounds simple but then you probably didn’t know that herbs had a temperature or focused on organs. Consider cinnamon. Its flavor may be sweet but its nature is hot. Mint is cooling in nature and has an acrid flavor. Mint goes to the Lung and Liver. This makes it a good herb when someone has a sore throat & cool to soothe the throat and open the nose. Cinnamon is a great herb to take in the winter to warm the core and open the channels (warm the hands and feet).
All these factors are considered when creating an herbal formula. In Chinese medicine it is common to have at least 4 herbs and sometimes up to 20 herbs. Western herbal formulas tend to only have one. The blending of the herbs is all about balance. They can’t be all cold or all warm, hot. They all can’t go to one organ. They have to go internal and external. This is an art and science and it takes training and practice to create a Chinese herbal formula. Of course many of the formulas are in processed pill and capsule form. The strongest ones are still made with the raw herbs and are used in the more severe cases or if you want faster results. Most people are reluctant to make these herbal teas due to the work, smell and taste. But just because a formula comes as a pill doesn’t mean they are OK to take because you think you should, or you heard or read something on the Internet. Herbs can be very dangerous in the wrong hands, with the wrong prescription medicines, with children. It is always recommended that you have a professionally trained herbalist prescribe you herbs and assist you with dosage to stay safe.
Herbal formulas can be prescribed and used to treat acute and chronic conditions along with supporting repair from injuries and pain control. They are also excellent as preventive medicines. They nourish and move the qi and blood and assist the return of balance. If you have any interest in using Chinese herbals please call me. Acupuncture is not always needed just as surgery is not always needed.

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