Herbal medicine is older than the practice of acupuncture.
The oldest record documenting the use of herbal formulas is called the Wu Shi Er Bing Fang or Prescriptions for Fifty-Two Kinds of Diseases, written approximately 3rd Century B.C. It was inscribed on silk fabric and included 280 herbal prescriptions to treat 53 kinds of diseases.
In the course of gathering food, humans discovered that certain plants, animals and minerals have medicinal properties. Through trial and error in using these medicinal substances to treat various diseases, the Chinese discovered that combining substances was often more effective than using them individually*.
Such observations and experiences have been inventoried for thousands of years, and have led empirically to Chinese herbal medicine as it is practiced today.
*Chinese Herbal Formulas and Applications, Pharmacological Effects & Clinical Research
The oldest record documenting the use of herbal formulas is called:
Wu Shi Er Bing Fang or Prescriptions for Fifty-Two Kinds of Diseases, written approximately 3rd Century B.C. Inscribed on silk fabric, include 280 herbal prescriptions to treat 53 kinds of disease.
Herbal medicine should only be given by a licensed herbalist.
In the U.S. herbal remedies can sometimes be considered benign or safe because they are “just herbs”. This is dangerous and wrong. Herbal formulas are considered medicine and should only be given by a licensed herbalist or herbalist.
Our bodies benefit from herbs in many ways. Given that there is an accurate diagnosis, strategic planning of treatment and careful consideration of which herbal prescription to prescribe, herbal remedies can relieve many issues.
Herbal medicines tend to be dispensed in liquid form so the remedies are more available to the body which helps with the swiftness of healing. Herbals are not synthetic so the body is more able to metabolize them in an organic way. Herbals are easier to prescribe, in that the dosing is custom and can be calibrated for a persons weight and structure. Herbs can be often be combined with other medications and supplements so they are easily integrated into ones routine.
Herbs are just as important to your therapy as your acupuncture treatment.
Chinese herbs are based on the same theories as acupuncture, allowing your treatment to continue while away from the clinic.
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The benefits of herbal medicine:
- An individual diagnosis is made for each patient
- Maximize healing potential
- Can be taken in several different forms: pills, powder and raw tea
- Assists acupuncture treatments between treatments
- Organic way of healing the body
Single herbs are combined into sophisticated formulas that match each individual issue. These herbal formulas change as the patient’s situation improves.
- You have allergies
- Take prescription medication
- Ingest other herbs or minerals
- Eat a vegetarian diet
Before taking any herbs internally, we urge you to seek advice from a trained, qualified herbalist, rather than self-administering herbs. A qualified practitioner is trained to understand the indications and contraindications of herbal administration.
Even though a product is natural, it does not always mean it is safe. Herbs should be taken in specifically measured doses, and many herbs should not be ingested for prolonged periods of time.
Treatments with herbs only (no acupuncture) are also available at Many Lives Chinese Medicine.
Make an appointment for a consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are herbs effective?
Herbs are incredible. Herbs are effective. Herbs are the plant basis they copy for pharmaceuticals. After we determine a chinese medicine diagnosis, we choose herbs in combination to solve a pattern of disharmony or disease.
For example, patients present with multiple symptoms such as irregular periods, PMS, irritable bowel, headache, irritability and neck pain. The practitioner, after more questioning, will determine the diagnosis and will need to choose several herbs to address all of these signs and symptoms. BUT, *it is not one herb does one thing*, it is a diagnosis that the herbal formula will be addressing. Then, the herbalist will combine these herbs in a very specific order which will constitute the herbal formula. Combining the herbs into an herbal formula enhances their therapeutic potential and safety of use.
This is a different approach than we see on the Western side. If the same case came in, as irregular periods, the MD would probably prescribe the birth control pill to regulate the cycle. But there is so much more going on. We look at finding why the cycle is irregular then we treat for the root of the problem using a combination of herbs.
Are herbs safe?
Herbs are generally safe. There are some plant-based materials that are toxic (like some mushrooms). There are some herbal formulas that interact with medications or even with other supplements. You do need to be incredibly mindful of drug-herb interactions, which is why it is crucial that you see an herbalist who is very well versed in drug-herb interactions and who can work very closely with your prescribing physician.
How will you determine which herbs I should take?
All Acupuncturists in the State of California are also herbalists. We study Chinese Herbs. The acupuncture appointment itself will point to a number of lifestyle suggestions, one being herbal formulas. It is similar on the Western side to going to your doctor, they examine you and give you pharmaceuticals. On the Chinese side we take pulses, look at your tongue, listen to your complaints, ask questions and put your whole story together. We then give an acupuncture treatment AND prescribe remedies (herbs) to reinforce the treatment, at home, all week long.
The determination of herbal is done through gathering information form the patient, taking pulses, looking at the tongue and choosing from one of the 230 main formulas that we are taught then modifying the formula to match the persons constitution.
Do you use animal products in your formulas?
We use different animal products which are not illegal. The state of California, and my concern, is very particular about animal products. We do not use any products that cause harm to animals or are specifically banned in CA and the U.S.