One of the most effective modalities within WholeHealth WellnessTM is the use of Chinese Herbal Medicine. The term “Chinese Herbal Medicine” describes formulas which are made mostly from plants but can sometimes include mineral or animal products. Depending on the herb, the roots, stems, bark, leaves, seeds, or flowers of plants both wild and cultivated may be used. There are many hundreds of herbs and other medicinal substances that have been commonly used for almost two thousand years. In school we learned about 400 of the most commonly used, but there are hundreds more.
Chinese Herbal Medicine is very safe when properly applied, and usually much gentler in action than most pharmaceuticals. When the right formula is used in the right way to correct imbalances, good results are often felt in days. However, as with anything else, care must be taken. For instance, a powerful purgative formula used on someone with a weak constitution would probably do more harm than good. One of the great strengths of Chinese Herbal Medicine when properly applied is that the formula is individually fitted to the patient’s constitution as well as to their symptoms.
Herbs are generally decocted into teas or prepared in pill form. For some conditions, they may also be used on the skin in the form of liniments, ointments or plasters. For convenience, I mostly dispense herbs in pill form. A few people receive bulk herbs to be prepared into teas. Preparing herbal teas is actually the most effective way to take herbs and a way to tune the formula to a person’s very individual condition. This is the traditional way that the formulas were prepared. Ask to see some of the herbs we use the next time you are in the practice for an appointment.
While single herbs are sometimes used, usually an herbal formula will be composed of ten or more herbs carefully blended together to synergistically combine for very specific purposes. One herb may be the principal herb, and other herbs may help guide that herb to specific areas of the body. Over the two thousand year written history of Chinese Herbal Medicine some formulas have been used so often that they have been named and are commonly available in ready made pill form. These are what we usually dispense.
Some of these have very colorful names and poetic names. Here are some of my favorites:
Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang — Tonify the Middle, Increase the Qi Decoction
Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan — Kidney Qi Pills from the Golden Cabinet
Xiao Yao Wan — Free and Easy Wanderer Pills
Tian Wang Bu Xin Tang — Heavenly Emperor’s Formula to Tonify the Heart
Shi Quan Da Bu Tang — Ten Flavors Great Tonification Decoction
Si Jun Zi Tang — Soup of the Four Gentlemen
Yu Ping Feng San — Jade Windscreen Powder
More on each of these and many other formulas in future postings.