Chinese Herbal Medicine dates back to the 3rd century BC. In AD 65 detailed writings describing many herbs by their properties and actions were produced in a book called the “material medica”. There has been a continuous changing response to new illnesses over the centuries and now there is much modern research to back this developmental process and prove efficacy. In Europe animal and mineral products are not used and there are strict controls to protect endangered species.

Herbal medicine uses the same theories and principles as acupuncture but herbs have specific uses and actions and are used with this in mind in formulae which target different aspects of the patient’s disharmony.

What can be treated by Chinese Herbal Medicine?

The conditions below can be treated by Chinese Herbal Medicine and are taken from the RCHM website.

Chinese herbal medicine has a role to play in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Skin problems – eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, urticaria
  • Gastro-intestinal disorders – irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, ulcerative colitis
  • Gynaecological conditions – pre-menstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, infertility
  • Hepatitis and HIV – some promising results have been obtained for treatment of Hepatitis C, and supportive treatment may be beneficial in the case of HIV
  • Chronic fatigue syndromes – whether with a background of viral infection or in other situations
  • Respiratory conditions – asthma, bronchitis, and chronic coughs, allergic and perennial rhinitis and sinusitis
  • Rheumatological conditions – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Urinary conditions – chronic cystitis
  • Psychological problems – depression, anxiety

Many conditions, especially in their chronic forms, create great difficulty for conventional medicine, whilst Chinese herbal medicine has a great deal to offer. The results that can be expected and how long a patient will have to take the herbs for will depend on the severity of the condition, its duration, and the general health of the patient. I will be happy to discuss treating your type of problem with you before you commit yourself to taking Chinese herbal medicine.

Chinese Herbal Medicine FAQs

As an RCHM registered practitioner, I have undertaken a thorough training from an approved training establishment. Herbs have been carefully documented and their effects observed over many centuries. Patient safety is paramount and, during your first consultation, your condition and any other medicines that you may be taking will be taken into account and possible interactions considered. As with any medication there can be the occasional adverse reaction but this is extremely rare with Chinese Herbal medicine.

All of the herbs I use are bought from RCHM approved suppliers that comply with the Approved Suppliers Scheme. These suppliers conform to very high standards of general manufacturing practice (GMP), Quality Assurance (QA), Quality Control (QC) plus a clear audit trail.

As a RCHM member I do not use any endangered plant or animal product and I strongly condemn any illegal trade of this nature.

how are herbs taken

Traditionally loose herbs were given and you had to boil them up to make a liquid extract (decoction), but now they can come as ground herb powders, freeze dried powders or concentrate granules which are diluted in hot water and drunk. The taste varies according to the formula and may take a little getting used to, but you soon adjust.

The dosage you will have will vary according to your age, the condition being treated, your body weight and constitution. A child will be given a proportion of the adult dose according to their body weight or age. You will be told of the dosage to take during your appointment.

how are herbs selected

Herbs have different energies relating to their temperature and different flavours which affect the Qi (the life force) of the body differently:

  • Sweet herbs strengthen Qi and nourish Blood
  • Pungent and acrid herbs disperse and increase the movement of Qi and invigorate and move Blood
  • Sour and astringent herbs bind body substances and control the organs
  • Salty herbs soften lumps
  • Bitter herbs reduce too much Qi and dry up moisture
  • Bland or neutral herbs tend to drain dampness in the body

Herbs also move energetically in different directions in the body as well as entering different channels and affecting different organs.

I take into account all of these aspects when formulating your herbal prescription to ensure it works on addressing your disharmony.

relationship between herbal medicine and modern pharmacology

The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine state on their website that ‘there is a growing body of research which indicates that traditional uses of plant remedies and the known pharmacological activity of plant constituents often coincide. However, herbal medicine is distinct from medicine based on pharmaceutical drugs.

Firstly, because of the complexity of plant materials it is far more balanced than medicine based on isolated active ingredients and is far less likely to cause side-effects.

Secondly, because herbs are typically prescribed in combination, the different components of a formulae balance each other, and they undergo a mutual synergy which increases efficacy and enhances safety.

Thirdly, herbal medicine seeks primarily to correct internal imbalances rather than to treat symptoms alone, and therapeutic intervention is designed to encourage this self-healing process.’

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