WHAT IS EASTERN HERBAL MEDICINE
In East Asia, people have been using natural herbs to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. These herbs are called herbal medicine, which are composed of roots, bark, flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves, and branches. It is well known that Traditional Chinese Medicine has over 3000 years history and Chinese herb medicine is one of most important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine which also includes acupuncture. In China, there are over 3000 different herbs that can be used for medical purposes. However, about 300 to 500 of these herbs are commonly used.
What can Chinese herbs do for me?
Actually, there are many benefits to using Chinese Herbs in a medicinal way. Chinese Herbal Therapy treats the root problem and not just the symptom. It has three main functions:
- treat the acute diseases and conditions such as killing bacteria or a virus;
- heal chronic illness such as gastrointestinal disorder, respiratory disorder, allergies, immune system deficiency, etc. by strengthening the body, helping it to recover;
- maintain daily life health by keeping the balance of the human body.
In general, herbs can treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Comparing with chemical medicine, Chinese herbal medicine is much gentler and safer because it is made of natural herbs. Most of Chinese herbs do not cause side effects. Even some side effects that do occur among a few herbs, those side effects can be easily counteracted with other herbs. For these reasons, people turn to herbal therapy for a number of indications. More and more people rely on Chinese herb medicine as alternative after chemical medicine failed.
Chronic illness treatment – As we know, many people with chronic illness may take a number of different conventional drugs daily. Chinese herb medicine is a very good alternative for those who are looking for a natural alternative for the conventional western medicine. There are many very efficient Chinese herbal patent medicines and prescribed herb formulas for the medications taken for pain syndromes, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological disorders, stress related syndromes, respiratory disorders, heart problems, sexual dysfunction, allergies and immune system deficiencies, as well as replacements for antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Side effect reduction – As mentioned early, Chinese herbs are safer and less side-effects. Actually they can be taken to reduce the side effects of other medication such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, etc. It is well known that antibiotics weaken the immune system. Herbal therapy can strengthen the system. Also, during chemotherapy, the white blood cell count drops, which causes fatigue, lack of energy and appetite. Herbal therapy has proven quite successful in relieving the side effects of chemotherapy.
For prevention – People may take Chinese herb medicine for disease prevention. For instance, for a person suffering from frequent headaches, taking herbs to prevent the headache from ever starting is a much better option than taking a pain reliever after the fact. Herbs are also used to prevent the flu, menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome, among other things. For health maintenance- Herbal therapy can also be used for general health maintenance. Tonic herbs are used to increase energy and to slow the aging process. They are also used for enhancing sexual energy and for cosmetic purposes. Herbs arc also used to treat minor symptoms that are not severe enough for heavy chemical drugs, symptoms that cannot be diagnosed by Western medicine, and symptoms and illness that are not easy to treat, such as mononucleosis and immune system deficiencies.
Can you tell me the difference between Chinese patent and prescribed herbs?
Chinese Patent herbs are premixed herb combinations according to the traditional formulas developed by experts in traditional Chinese medicine through over 3000 years. They are similar to over-the-counter-drugs and usually in the form of pill, capsule and liquid. The advantages of Chinese patent herbs are convenient, ease to take, less expensive. However, patient’s symptoms must fit the patent herb’s narrow indications.
Prescribed herbs are mixed by an herbalist according to an individual patient’s symptoms and diagnoses. In general speaking, prescribed herbs are more effective than patent herbs because the prescribed herbs are tailored to your symptoms and conditions exclusively by your herbalist if he or she is very good at traditional Chinese medicine.
All of these demonstrate that an herbalist should be experienced and knowledgeable about herbs before attempting to combine them. Otherwise, Mutual Inhibition occurs when one herb reduces another’s Effectiveness; Incompatibility occurs when the combination of certain herbs produces side effects or becomes poisonous.
How are herbs taken?
As you know, prescribed herbal medicine is traditionally taken in tea form. Human body absorbs tea easily and quickly so it is the most commonly used method. Sometimes, if the smell or taste of the herbal medicine is unpleasant, capsule or tablet form of this herbal medicine is recommended. Tea should always be warm, and capsules or tablets should be swallowed with warm water. Generally, it is best to take herbs just before you serve meals. You should consult a herbalist for specific instructions on taking herbs. For example, tonic herbs, to promote health, are best taken before meals. Purgative herbs, to cleanse the system, are best taken on an empty stomach. Herbs that either irritate the stomach or are taken to protect the stomach should be taken after eating. Herbs for insomnia and other sleeping disorders should be taken at bedtime.
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