Chinese Medical Herbs
This section contains articles about Chinese medical herbs - what they are, and how they can benefit you. For a list view of these articles click here.
Herbal Medicine: Everything Old Is New Again
“There is nothing new under the sun.” This Solomonic wisdom is resonating at Cleveland Clinic’s new Chinese herbal-therapy ward that “primarily sees patients with conditions that Western medicine has, for whatever reason, failed to remedy.”
At BIOM, it’s also our experience that quite often people try Oriental Medicine when they have not had success with conventional treatment. And helping with the hard stuff is a great way to show that what’s been growing under the sun for millennia is still useful today.
All the same, Chinese medicinal herbs being prescribed in the mainstream medical system is likely to raise many an eyebrow; especially when Cleveland Clinic’s medical director, Dr. Daniel Neides, MD said: “Western medicine may not have all the answers.”
The Yin-Yang of Treatment
It’s wonderful for the health of people that Oriental Medicine in its various modalities—herbs, acupuncture, diet & nutrition, chi kung—is gradually being absorbed into the wider society.
And just as the doctors running the Cleveland Clinic are prudent to provide MD-oversight of herbal prescriptions to prevent bad reactions that can result when some pharmaceutical drugs encounter certain herbs in the body (relative to each person’s unique health situation), it’s also important to note that the Cleveland Clinic’s herbal ward is run by a trained Oriental Medicine practitioner.
This is important for the same reason an Oriental Medicine herbalist is not certified to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs: lack of training; medical doctors are not trained to prescribe Chinese medicinal herbs.
To illustrate the point: consider that at Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine, the Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree program consists of 3,150 academic and clinical hours over three years.
Contrast that with the fact that there is no accredited training in Chinese medicinal herbs for medical doctors. And where medical doctors have been licensed to perform acupuncture, a leading certification program of medical acupuncture for physicians “is organized into … home study and video course viewing, live lectures and demonstrations, and clinical training consisting of 300 hours of formal instruction in medical acupuncture.”
Clearly, acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs, are specialized areas of expertise and the Cleveland Clinic is wise to recognize that in its integrative approach to health care.
High Quality Chinese Medicinal Herbs
From an Oriental Medicine professional’s point of view, it’s very encouraging to see that Cleveland Clinic, like BIOM, is using the same high quality medical herb formulas from Kaiser Pharmaceutical.
What’s different though, while Cleveland Clinic uses compounding pharmacies in Massachusetts and California to create specialized custom herbal blends to address very specific health conditions, at BIOM, Kitty blends your customized herbal formulas while you rest on the table listening to music or quiet.
Cultural Exchange Is Healthy
So, it’s a wonderful thing that Chinese medicinal herbs are gradually being integrated into the American cultural mainstream. The way was paved back in the 1970s when Nixon went to China and James Reston, a New York times reporter, found himself undergoing an emergency appendectomy in a Chinese hospital where acupuncture was used to ease his pain after surgery.
Which gets us to appreciating the cultural bridge that has been built, enabling more and more Americans to enjoy the benefits of both western and eastern medicine here, in our own hospitals.
With the key underlying benefit being: if you practice preventative methods, like Oriental Medicine, you significantly reduce the likelihood of winding up in a hospital at all.
How Oriental Medicine Works … When You’re Feeling Sick
While there are signs of Spring here in the Northwest, it is still Winter … temperatures between highs in the 50s and lows in the 20s. This kind of variation puts a lot of strain on your body’s immune system making it vulnerable to invasion by the typical viruses and bacteria we share the world with. So it’s not surprising that many people have been experiencing respiratory problems like colds, flu, walking pneumonia and other ailments related to weak organ energy in Winter.
Acupuncture Or Not To Acupuncture—That Is The Question
Acupuncture is a superb method for moving your body’s Energy~Chi, which keeps your organ systems balanced and functioning properly. But when you’re feeling ill, your Immune System gets fired-up and takes charge of all available energy you have to fight off the pathogen. So when you’re feeling ill, acupuncture gets put on hold and Chinese medicinal herbs come to the fore to help the Immune System do battle with the invader.
Chinese Medicinal Herbs: Dispellers and Rebuilders
When you’re feeling ill and weak, that’s your body’s way of sending the RED ALERT signal, letting you know that you need to begin resting immediately. Resting frees up all available energy for the Immune System to use to battle the invading bacteria or virus that has taken residence in your body.
Fortunately today, many of us have several options regarding how to fight off the invading pathogen. In the realm of Oriental Medicine, Chinese medicinal herbs are called upon to lead the charge.
Generally speaking, when fighting off a cold, flu or other pathogen, the order of battle is: the DISPELLING herbs go in first, then once the battle is over, the REBUILDING herbs go to work: nourishing, strengthening and fortifying the Immune System. Just as you need to rest while the Immune System fights for your health, after the battle, you need to attend to the needs of your Immune System and rebuild its strength.
As you continue to flow through the seasons of your life, keep in mind that Chinese medicinal herbs can help you cultivate and maintain your health.
Stay In Touch With How You Feel: The Oriental Medicine Healing Process
Be mindful of those things that promote and maintain good health: 5 Element Eating, Chi Kung exercise, periodic acupuncture, and maintenance herbs to help keep your Energy~Chi balanced, and you’ll become ill less often.
But we’re all susceptible to illness once in a while, and this is where a key point of the Oriental Medicine healing process tends to get overlooked. What is that key point?
… When you’re ill and taking Chinese medicinal herbs prescribed at BIOM ~ STAY IN TOUCH …
Kitty encourages anyone who is sick and taking Chinese medicinal herbs to stay in touch with her, via phone or email, daily or every other day, until the worst of the symptoms have dissipated.
Herbs and humans have a primordial relationship, one so essential that you could say that without herbs the human race might not exist today because our ancestors depended on them for their strength and health.
Dispelling Herbs & Rebuilding Herbs—The One-Two Punch
Like you and me, pathogens are alive and need energy and nourishment to live and thrive, and when they’ve taken up residence in our bodies they do so at the expense of our health.
The Oriental Medicine method for fighting bacteria and viruses is a two-step process: Knock the pathogen out of your body with a dispelling Chinese medicinal herb formula, and then rebuild your Energy~Chi with a nourishing, rebuilding herb formula.
When you’re ill, and come to BIOM for a diagnosis and herbal prescription, you’ll get both a customized dispelling herb formula to help your Immune System fight off the pathogen, and a customized rebuilding herb formula to help your body recover the energy your body used to eliminate the pathogen.
Dispelling Herbs. Staying in touch is IMPORTANT because sometimes, when the dispelling herbal formula doesn’t weaken or eliminate the pathogen quickly, there is the chance that the pathogen will adapt its tactics as it’s being attacked by your Immune System. If this happens, Kitty adapts the herb formula based on the changes you describe in your symptoms.
This strategy puts additional stress on the already weakened pathogen, making it an easier target for the Immune System to push out of your body.
Rebuilding Herbs. Another IMPORTANT reason for staying in touch is to coordinate the timing for switching from the dispelling herb formula to the rebuilding herb formula.
Between getting older, and having to fight off what seems to be more virulent pathogens these day, we also have to contend with our desire and need to get up-and-running again. Because of this, once the worst symptoms of the illness begin to subside, we face the temptation of switching over prematurely to the rebuilding herbal formula. Too often this is a mistake, because while the dissipating herbs are doing their job, early on the pathogen is only weakened, but not yet vanquished. So if you switch over to the rebuilding herbs too soon, you’ll nourish the pathogen back to health, potentially causing a relapse to more severe symptoms again. Not what we want to have happen.
So by staying in touch during the dispelling phase of your treatment, you can communicate with Kitty and discuss how you’re feeling, and take advantage of her expertise and experience for figuring out how the dispelling herbs are working, and when the right time is to switch over to the nourishing, rebuilding herbs.
The healing process is a ballet-of-sorts, beautiful when well-choreographed; not so pretty when the dancer stumbles and falls …
Unique Chinese Medical Herbs
Chinese medical herbs comprise a unique system of herbal medicine, where the herbalist combines a specific mix, or ‘formula,’ of individual herbs to help address a particular health problem. This approach to herbal medicine is based on the ancient wisdom that instructs: “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.”
Chinese medical herbs comprise a unique system of herbal medicine.
Embodying this ancient knowing, a Chinese herbal formula is like a symphony which combines a wide array of instruments to achieve a musical effect not attainable by an individual instrument playing on its own. An experienced Chinese medicine herbalist knows how to combine herbs in way that generates a greater magnitude of healing, and like an accomplished “composer” can adapt generalized formulas, to specifically address your unique health situation.
Just as a well conducted orchestra creates beautiful music, a properly composed Chinese herbal formula supports the beautiful feeling of health.
Chinese Medical Herbs