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Understanding Chinese Herbal Medicine

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Maintaining health by restoring the balance of energy, body and spirit is the main focus of Chinese herbal medicine. The difference between the methods of Chinese herbal medicine and traditional methods is that instead of the herbs being used to treat a particular disease or condition in Chinese herbal medicine is that the herbs are used to nourish the body. Imbalances in the body can be detected by the appearance of the skin, hair, tongue, eyes, pulse and can be heard in the voice. A variety of herbs are used, in different combinations, to help restore balance to the body. These combinations of herbs are created to treat the main complaint or patterns of the patient’s symptoms instead of the underlying cause. Use of the Chinese herbal medicine method of treatment helps to restore the bodies balance, resulting in the patient being healthier in mind, body and soul.

The make-up of Chinese herbal medicine

Herbal medicine is administered in numerous ways, from teas to powders, pills, tinctures and syrups. Herbal formulations typically contain anywhere from four to twelve different plant based ingredients. In China there are over 3,200 different herbs to choose from. There are 300 different mineral and animal extracts available. Currently there are over 400 different herbal formulations that are used. To make these formulations effective, one or two herbs are chosen that will have the greatest impact on the major aspects of the problem. The other herbs that are used in the formulation work in a variety of ways from treating the minor aspects of the formula to helping the other herbs work more effectively. The minor herbs also help direct the herbal formula to specific parts of the body.

History of Chinese herbal medicine

Chinese medicine has been firmly established since 200 BC, however a listing of medicinal herbs and formulations were not developed until the first century AD. During the Ming Dynasty (1152-1578) a classic book on medicinal herbs, which lists nearly 2,000 different herbs and extracts, was written by Li Shi-Zhen. When Western conventional medicine began spreading to the East many of the traditional herbal medicines began to be regarded as folklore. Interesting enough the Chinese government has supported the use of both traditional and Western medicine since 1949. Traditional Chinese medicine began to gain popularity in the United States during the 1970’s after President Richard Nixon paid a visit to China and continues to remain a popular alternative today.

Traditional Chinese medicine can be used in conjunction with traditional medical practices provided you choose a health care practitioner that is knowledgeable in both fields. As with any medicine there are side effects and possible drug interactions, so before deciding that Chinese herbal medicine is right for you, talk to your health care provider.





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