The practice of using herbs to heal a variety of ailments dates back more than 5,000 years in Chinese culture. Practitioners would meet with clients, determine their particular ailment, or disharmony, and determine the combination of herbs that would bring their body back into order. What you may not know is that there is more to Chinese Herbal medicine than you may see on the surface.
1. There are more herbs than you think.
When we think of herbs, we likely only think about plants we traditionally cook with – basil, oregano, rosemary and the like. Practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine must be familiar with the more than 1,800 herbs in the Chinese pharmacopeia. Each herb is classified into what it can do for the body. Some give you energy, others aid in the function of particular organs, some help disharmonies in the mind, and others help bring all of the systems into balance.
2. Herbal medicine works best when several herbs are combined.
Each individual herb in Chinese medicine has an effect on the body. However, these effects can be augmented or tempered when they are combined with other herbs into a synergistic formula. Herbalists create formulas that combine the best benefits from one herb and minimizes any side effects with the addition of one or more additional herbs. Creating formulas is just as much an art as it is a skill with the best herbalists monitoring a patient’s progress and making adjustments along the way.
3. There is a specific hierarchy of herbs.
Every herbal formula consists of a particular hierarchy of herbs. First, a chief herb that has the greatest effect on the problem a person is facing. Next, the herbalist will add deputy herbs that support the chief herb in the way it treats the condition. Assistant herbs are added to reinforce and support the chief and deputy herbs, but they also serve to minimize any harsh side effects from the treatment. Finally, envoy herbs round out the formula to focus the action of the herbs to a particular area.
4. You don’t have to take pills… unless you want to.
Chinese herbal formulas aren’t only consumed in pill form. They can also be boiled into a tea, ground into a powder or concentrated into liquid extracts that can be dropped into the mouth or under the tongue. While some herbs are more effective in pill form, others are activated by the heat of teas while others are most effective in extract form. Your herbalist can correctly prescribe when and how to take your formula for maximum benefit.
Chinese herbal medicine is a safe, effective and drug-free way of managing both acute and chronic medical conditions. It works by amplifying the body’s natural processes to help strengthen or heal everything from stomach problems to muscle aches and pains. When used in combination with acupuncture, chiropractic care or massage therapy, Chinese herbal medicine can leave you feeling healthy and well without harmful side-effects.