Mind, Body & Spirit

Chinese Medicine & Herbs

Practitioners of Chinese medicine view the human body as a complete organic entity that interconnects the external phenomenal world and the physical bodily structure through a series of natural laws. Chinese medicine focuses attention on the patient rather than on the disease, grouping together symptoms and synthesizing them until a clear picture appears, providing a diagnosis of the person as a whole. Illness is closely related to the emotional and mental aspects of the patient. The Chinese medicine practitioner will diagnose and treat the individual, taking into consideration the continuum line produced by the interactions of body, mind and spirit.Generally, in Western medicine a disease is diagnosed according to an assessment of the mechanical structure of the organs in relation to the disease process. In Chinese medicine the emphasizes is on the power of organ function, not the physical structure of the organs.

Herbology is a branch of science that utilizes the therapeutic qualities of herbs. It is the oldest form of healing known to man and is one of the most important aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chinese herbology aims to build and strengthen the immune system’s response in fighting disease.

Herbs, derived from plants, produce chemicals that interact with our bodies. Natural herbs are found in plant roots, bark, flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves and branches. They act as nutrients to allow organs and tissues to restore normal functionality. There are over 3000 different types of herbs that can be used in the healing process, though only 300-500 are commonly used. They are usually taken internally in the form of pills, powders, extracts, tablets, capsules and syrups. They may also be externally applied as a liniment, poultice, plaster or ointment.

Herbal therapy can be delivered through patented herbs that are 100% natural and chemical free. They are often dispensed in a premixed formula. Some herbalists use herbs that are mixed at the time of treatment. In either case, the herbs are selected to suit the particular patient’s needs. It is best to consult with an herbalist who can guide you through the beneficial and potentially harmful attributes of specific herbs.

In the United States, Chinese Medicine practitioners prescribe herbs that have been imported under the strict supervision of U.S. Customs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chinese Medicine practitioners classify herbs by their different natures such as cold or cooling, hot or warming. Herbs are also classified by flavors which are indicated for the treatment of specific organs: sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty. Each of the flavors produces a specific physiological effect. Sour flavor is cooling and refreshing. It produces contraction of tissues, therefore it could help to control diarrhea. The nature of bitter herbs is cooling, detoxifying, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitical. Sweet flavor is warming, soothing, and nourishing. Spicy flavor (or pungent) is warming, drying and stimulating of circulation and digestion. The salty flavor is cooling and moistening due to its nature of maintaining the balance of fluids. Herbs are classified by direction as well. Herbal substances are closely related to the five flavors and the four seasons. Summer relates to floating, fall relates to descending, winter is sinking and spring is ascending. Leaves and flowers, for example, are lightweight; therefore they float or ascend, making them good for the treatment of acute and surface diseases like colds, flu, and inflammation. The heavier herbs like roots, barks, and seeds descend or sink; therefore they are effective to treat deeper and chronic diseases.

While herbal therapy addresses acute and chronic conditions, it is also very effective for general health maintenance, such as improving energy and slowing the aging process. The use of herbs as part of the treatment for illness is safer and gentler than the use of pharmaceuticals. Because herbs are made from natural vegetation, there are rarely any side effects; indeed, herbs are often taken to reduce side effects from chemical treatments such as chemotherapy.

There are many, many therapeutic uses for herbs which are especially effective in conjunction with acupuncture treatment:

Acne eczema
Back pain
Cardiovascular disorders
Cold and flu
High cholesterol
High blood pressure
Immune deficiency
Low energy
Menstrual cramps
or irregularities
Mood swings
Neck and shoulder pain
Sexual dysfunction
Sinus infection
Sore throat
Stop smoking
Thyroid dysfunctions
Weight loss

Caution: Occasionally herbal therapy may be contra-indicated with some pharmaceuticals and conditions. Speak with your acupuncturist and your physician if you are taking other drugs.