What Is Chinese Herbal Medicine and How Is It Important?
We all must have heard it once in our lifetime that Chinese medicines are the most effective ones as compared to normal medicines. China is considered as the foundation of herbal medicines in the known world. In fact, modern societies today are incorporating the use of curative plant and animal parts into their treatment methods in addressing health-related problems.
Even though modern medical treatment methods are available in many hospitals during this age and time, many individuals today are making use of this alternative cure in ridding themselves of health problems that may worsen if not properly cared for.
The Concept of Chinese Herbal Medicine
According to Chinese medical experts, the human body is like a universe of its own, where each component relates to another to achieve a sense of harmony in both function and result. In such cases, the body is divided into divisions that will affect the treatment prescribed by these professionals, such as the Yin and Yang, the five elements, energy pathways, and so on. It is a common Chinese belief that illnesses and diseases are the directly result of the improper function of these divisions and may further deteriorate that state of your health if not addressed immediately.
Traditional Chinese medical experts believe that the curative properties found in plants and animals have a direct effect on these divisions, promoting proper function, thus, restoring the body to its natural, healthy state.
How Experts Prescribe Proper Treatment
It is very important that you consult with an expert before you make use of traditional Chinese herbal medicines to maximize treatment. You might expect that these professional will ask you for drug tests, medical exams, X-rays, and so on; in truth, these practitioners will carefully observe your body through a series of physical tests, as well as direct questions that will help them figure out the current state of your body’s health.
The most common tests performed by Chinese medical experts includes pulse readings, hearing, smelling, and touching your meridian points to determine if there is a blockage in your body’s energy pathways. A modern individual might find these methods disconcerting considering that modern medical experts find them unreliable; but you should realize that this has been in practice since ancient times.
Herbal Medicines Prescribed to Patients
There are different herbal medicines prescribed to patients by these traditional Chinese medical experts. Normally, these experts will prescribe packets of herbal mixtures that will be administered orally depending on their instructions. Some are combination herbs pickled in a big jar where the patient is required to take a few sips at a time according to the prescribed dosage.
It is very important that you stick with the instruction given by your medical experts to avoid any health risks, especially in the case of self-medication. Even if you know someone who is using herbal medicine for illnesses that is similar with yours, we can never fully predict how it will affect you, since your body is quite different with theirs.
Types of Chinese Herbal Remedies
To use Chinese herbal medicine in the most traditional fashion, you must visit an herbalist’s shop. There, experienced herb preparers will chop, grind, fry, and slice dried herbs according to the prescription given by an experienced herbalist. You will walk home with a packet of dried herbs that need to be prepared according to the instructions, which typically involve adding water, boiling for several hours in a ceramic pot, pouring off the liquid, adding more water, and repeating the process twice more. Certain herbs are supposed to be added right at the end, while others require extra-long preparation.
If you don’t wish to carry out such a complex process, or if a classic herbal shop is not available, you may wish to move one step away from tradition and purchase an already-prepared Kampo formula. There are several hundred such formulas designed to match the most seen forms of imbalance. Available in powder, capsule, or tablet form, they can be used much more conveniently than fully traditional herbs. Many Kampo combinations are licensed in Japan and are manufactured there on a large scale by reputable manufacturers.
The lowest level of TCHM, scarcely deserving the name at all, involves so-called Chinese Patent Remedies, which consist most commonly of tiny brown spheres in small brown bottles. They are marketed both for classical imbalances and western disease categories. Patent remedies are inexpensive and widely available. However, there have been so many scandals involving dangerous contaminants not listed on the label that we recommend avoiding this form of treatment entirely. (See Safety Issues.)
In the West, herbal medicine is part of folk medicine. However, in China there is a distinct tradition of Chinese folk medicine that is separate from the orthodox, rather academic TCHM approach. In this Chinese folk medicine, herbs are used more simply, somewhat in the manner of Western herbal medicine. Herbs most used in this manner include astragalus, dong quai, ginger, kudzu (Pueraria lobata), licorice, lyceum, Panax ginseng, and Schisandra. For more information on the use of these herbs, see the appropriate individual articles.
Besides herbs, substances that we might consider supplements are utilized in TCHM. These include extract of human placenta, 76 glandular extracts, and a variety of minerals.
What Is Chinese Herbal Medicine Used for Today?
In the traditional system of Chinese herbal medicine, herbal formulas can be used to treat virtually any condition. Some of the most common uses in China include liver disease (hepatitis and cirrhosis), sexual dysfunction in men, infertility in women, insomnia, colds and flus, menstrual pain, irregular menstruation, menopause, and cancer treatment support.
Acupuncture is often used along with herbs as a supplemental treatment; in addition, extraordinarily detailed lifestyle suggestions are common. It is not unusual for a traditional practitioner to “prescribe” dinner, as well as counsel changes in living situation (for example, move from the basement to the first floor or face the bed south rather than north). Exercise systems such as Tai Chi and Qigong may also be recommended.
For reliable and authentic Chinese herbal medicines, head to MelSkin in South Yarra, VIC. They are quite the experts when it comes to acupuncture and all other remedies.