Written by Eduardo Velasco Valido
What is Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine?
The art and science of Chinese Herbal Medicine have thousands of years of history and evolution.
The origin of Traditional Chinese herbal therapy is attributed to the emperor Shen Nong (3494 B.C.E.) During his life, he studied and recorded the properties of 350 medicinal herbs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses herbal treatment to address the root cause of symptoms and disorders, helping the body to recuperate and balance naturally. One of its philosophies is that a balanced mind, body and spirit ensures good health for a lifetime, and resource the body's own natural defenses to fight sickness and disease on its own, without the need for medications
Western medicine mainly treats diseases, while Oriental medicine uses Chinese herbal products to strengthen your own body; Chinese Medicine doesn't treat diseases; it just helps your body to be healthy enough that you don't get any disease.
Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine create great complementary and alternative medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine is the legacy of thousands of years of accumulated experience. The value of this ancient, holistic, alternative medicine healthcare system is well appreciated worldwide. Many countries are incorporating Oriental medicine into their integrative health plans.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine uses herbal formulas, Fāng Jì, trying to achieve the best synergic effect from the combination of the different Chinese medicinal herbs.
Chinese Materia Medica is one of the best in the world.
Traditional Chinese Medicine focus on the pattern of the patient. "Different patterns produce the same disease, and different diseases can be produced by the same pattern." The pattern will be defined by the yin and yang balance, relationships between organs, cold-hot feelings, and a long list of signs and symptoms needed to make a Chinese Medicine diagnosis.
Once it is done, the correct Chinese herbal medicines should be prescribed to correct the pattern presentation of the patient, and then the diseases and symptoms should fade away.
Acupuncture, Cupping & Guasha
Acupuncture is the most famous part of Traditional Chinese medicine in western countries, but in Asian countries, everybody appreciates Chinese herbal therapy because it is usually more effective and can treat a broader range of conditions.
Nonetheless, acupuncture is miraculous therapy with also thousands of years of evolution and a fundamental part of Chinese Medicine. With the use of thin needles, Chinese Medicine doctors help the body reduce pain and fight an endless number of diseases.
Cupping also has a long story within Traditional Chinese medicine. They became really popular in Western countries after some Olympic athletes used them to recover faster from their injuries.
Guasha is another great Oriental medicine technique, an ancient folk remedy. It produces excellent results too. It also can treat all kinds of diseases and patterns. You would be amazed how effective it treats cold symptoms like fever, congestion, cough, etc.
Tui na is the Physical Therapy of Traditional Chinese medicine. In China is a mix of Chiropractic, massage, and energy work. In addition to any physical problem, it also can treat any condition.
The way we eat is essential to solving health problems. Food can be the best medicine or our worst enemy. It is a crucial part of Traditional Chinese medicine, and we must choose wisely the foods we consume.
Qi Gong - Tai chi
Qi Gong or Tai Chi is a self-cultivation technique, a way to strengthen our bodies and calm and focus our minds. In China and other Asian countries, some Doctors just focus on Gi Gong to help their patients.
Is Chinese Herbal Medicine Effective?
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine has thousands of years of history and evolution, and every day millions of people worldwide use Chinese herbs as the first option for their health problems.
The efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine is more than proven, and the combination of effectiveness, reduced cost, and reduced side effects make it one of the best choices for your healthcare.
What can Chinese herbs help with?
Well-trained Chinese Medicine doctors use them to improve the life of patients with barely any condition, from chronic diseases like Chron's disease, asthma, migraine headaches, etc., or even to help with the side effects of the treatment of cancer patients. They can be used to reduce all kinds of pain and acute conditions like flu, gastritis, dermatitis, etc.
Chinese herbal medicine aims to strengthen the body and help overcome any condition, which is why it is so useful to treat any disease.
How long does it take for Chinese herbs to work?
The time to take effect from Chinese herbal medicines varies with the different conditions of the patient.
For an acute issue, it may take minutes or just hours to reduce the symptoms or even eliminate them.
For a chronic condition, the patient should take traditional Chinese herbs for a longer time. If a patient has been suffering from a disease for ten years, they can not expect to cure their condition in just a month permanently.
Chinese herbal medicine is not a band-aid for symptoms. It is a real natural process, "nature goes slowly, but it gets everything done."
Studies Supporting Chinese Herbal Medicine
In addition to thousands of years of evolution (if millions of people keep using it for thousands of years, it must work), there are a lot of clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews studies, etc., that prove the benefits of the Chinese herbal formulas scientifically.
Most of the literature is done in China and is in the Chinese language.
But websites like www.acupuncturetimes.com collect many scientific studies in English that prove the benefits and efficacy of herbal medicine, particularly Chinese herbs.
Are Chinese Herbs Safe?
Traditional Chinese medicine and Chinese herbs, when a well-trained Oriental medicine doctor does them, are safe.
Chinese herbs don't treat diseases; they treat patients, so they must be customized for the particular conditions of every single patient.
For example, rather than having good formulas to treat asthma, we have great formulas that modify the conditions of our patient's bodies, so they do not suffer diseases like asthma anymore.
So Chinese herbs offer fewer side effects and a lot less cost than conventional medicine.
That is why Traditional Chinese medicine is a great complementary and alternative medicine that combines perfectly with western medicine treatments.
Does the FDA Regulate Chinese Herbs?
In 1994 the FDA classified Chinese herbs as dietary supplements, so they don't need FDA approval to be on the market. However, the manufacturers need to prove that their products are free from contaminants and provide accurate labeling.
So any Chinese herb that you can find in the US market sold under a good company is safe, the same as any other herbal teas or herbal drugs that you can find in the market.
Can Chinese Medicine have side effects?
Absolutely anything that produces an effect has the potential to make a side effect. For example, water is essential for our health, but if you over-drink water every day, it will produce undesired side effects in your body; for example, it will wash out a lot of valuable minerals from your body will make your kidneys overwork.
If Chinese herbal medicine is prescribed by a well-trained TCM practitioner, Chinese herbs have fewer adverse effects than synthetic drugs well-trained TCM practitioner prescribes Chinese herbal medicine.
When should I stop taking Chinese Herbs?
Any qualified practitioner should advise stopping taking your herbal products if you feel any unexpected or undesired side effects.
Some patients may suffer allergic reactions to specific herbs, this is rare, but it can happen.
For example, some patients have allergies to citric fruits, so we always ask our patients for any allergies before prescribing any herbal formulas.
Chinese Herbal Medicine Best Companies
All good companies guarantee that their products are free from pesticides, fertilizers, parasites, chemicals, etc.
They test their herbs in world-class laboratories equipped with the best instrumentation, like liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, thin-layer chromatography (TLC), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), etc.
Chinese medicinal herbs in the US market have the same guarantee or are even better than the food you can get in your favorite grocery store.
The Granules are concentrated extracts from single herbs and herbal formulas. They have become the most prescribed remedies in Taiwan, Japan, and China, due to the convenience of use for the patient and because it increases the capacity of customization with no effort at all for the patient.
The patient only needs to take 2-3 spoons 2-3 times a day with water; this makes it very convenient for them and very customized for the Traditional Chinese medicine doctor, making it a more successful treatment for the patient.
The best brands available in the US market that we use in Soul Acupuncture & Herbal:
Treasure of The East: https://treasureoftheeast.com/pages/laboratory-testing
TCM Zone: https://tcmzone.com/quality-control/
Herbal medicine can be prepared in pills, capsules, tablets, or powder forms. Many commercial companies prepare them worldwide.
The advantage of this system is the convenience of just taking a pill or a tablet. Still, the cons are that it is much more challenging to customize the formula and make a more precise and effective treatment.
About the safety of the product, it is the same as for the granules. All good companies protect their reputation by doing thorough tests on their herbs before putting them on the market.
The most popular brands are Plum Flower and Min Shan.
We don't recommend the public use them unless they have deep knowledge of Traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis.
Often TCM practitioners without proper herbal training prescribe those remedies to their patients to increase the efficacy of their acupuncture treatments.
Raw herbs are the way Traditional Chinese medicine has been prescribed since the beginning of Chines Medicine.
The advantage is that they are easy to customize formulas for the patients, but the cons are that the patient needs to cook the herbs every day for 2 hours. Few people have enough free time to cook medicinal herbs every day. Also, the smell of the herbs usually is too strong.
That is why almost no one uses raw herbs in modern herbal therapy anymore.
Where can you find an Excellent Chinese Medicine Herbalist?
In America, you can find good Licensed Acupuncturists, but it is not so easy to find good professional herbalists.
In addition to being licensed, we recommend choosing a practitioner that has been following a real herbalist master for time enough to achieve a good experience that allows them to practice herbal medicine efficiently.
At Soul Acupuncture & Herbal in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we all have more than 20 years of experience practicing Traditional Chinese medicine and Alternative Medicine. We have our own herbal pharmacy where we make our patients custom herbal medicine formulas.
We treat local patients in our clinic in Fort Lauderdale and also patients all around the world online.