Chinese Herbal Medicine is a major branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The way I was taught Chinese Medicine, it is 30% acupuncture and 70% herbal medicine. We begin treatment with more frequent acupuncture treatments. The herbs take a few weeks to begin to take effect. At that point, acupuncture treatments can be done less frequently.
In order of strength of action, there are Western drugs, Chinese Herbals, Western Herbals, then nutraceuticals. Our suppliers follow Good Manufacturing Policies, so we know quality and safety are insured. We avoid herbals that are made from endangered species. Chinese Herbals are natural and do not harm the environment. Western drugs are synthetics, and are generally intended for a single action. They act powerfully and often have serious side effects and interactions with each other. They also do not break down after ingestion and now synthetic tranquilizers and hormones are being found in aquifiers. The long term consequences to the environment are being studied.
Chinese Herbal Medicines are complex combinations of herbal ingredients. They contain a master herb, which addresses the patient's primary imbalance. There are servant herbs which support and complement the effect of the Master herbs. There are harmonizing herbs, which help the herbs work together better. There are carrier herbs, which move the herbs to the region of the body where they are needed. For example, Cervical formula contains a carrier herb which draws the action of the other herbs to the region of the neck. Because Chinese Herbals are compounded to harmonize and act together, side effects are rare when they are properly prescribed.
Occasionally the herbs are too rich for a patient and will induce diarrhea. If that happens, we discontinue the herbals for 3 days and then return to a half dose. Sensitive patients can still see effects from herbals at lower doses.
Chinese Herbal Medicine can be used in a complementary manner with Western Medicine. For example, in treating cancer, Western Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation can be used to kill the cancer. Chinese Herbal Medicine can be adapted to the Western Medical treatment to counteract the side effects they cause, and also to address the underlying imbalance that caused the cancer in the first place.
Chinese Herbal Medicine is a powerful alternative tool. It works to bring the patient back into harmony and balance. It can be used alone or it can work in concert with Western treatments.