What is Herbal medicine?


Most frequent questions and answers

Herbal medicine is one of the oldest and most sophisticated branches of Asian Medicine. Written history of Asian herbology dates back approximately 2,000 years.

In Asian Medicine, herbs are rarely given singly. Instead, they are combined in a formula to maximize synergistic effects and to minimize side effects. Some herbs are processed with other herbs to negate their toxic effects. For example, Ban Xia (pinellia rhizome) is commonly dry fried with Sheng Jiang (raw ginger) before being administered.

Herbs are combined in a formula to maximize synergistic effects and to minimize side effects

There are generally three different ways of ingesting Asian herbs:

Powder Herbs

  • PillsPills
  • Powder
  • Boiled decoction from dried herbs

Herbal formulas are usually taken internally as decoctions (herbs boiled in water). However, doctors of Traditional Asian Medicine may also prescribe herbs in the forms of pills, powders, syrups, soaks, and plasters. Today the traditional method of cooking raw herbs is generally considered to time consuming and costly (not to mention not very pleasing to ones palate) so it is not commonly practiced.

Asian herbal medicine is able to treat an expansive range of human disorders including both acute (common cold) and chronic (allergies) sickness. Traditional Asian medicine is especially good at promoting the bodies ability to help heal itself without using overly invasive techniques or chemicals.

This question is difficult to answer due to the vast array of conditions which are treated with Asian herbal formulas. Generally acute conditions will be treated faster generating relatively fast results (within hours or days).  While in chronic conditions results will appear slower depending on ‘How long you have had your condition’ and ‘How complicated your disorder is’.
Once a diagnosis has been completed an approximation of ‘How long your treatment should take’ and ‘How quick results may be seen’ should be discussed with your Acupuncturist.

During pregnancy, Asian herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years to promote a healthy pregnancy and eliminate many disorders common during this time. Do not try to self prescribe any herbs while pregnant, only educated Acupuncturists in Asian Herbal medicine should prescribe the herbs. Special care must be made when prescribing herbal formulas during pregnancy and any time when there is a possibility of you being pregnant your Acupuncturist should be informed. Asian Herbal Medicine is also safe for breastfeeding mothers but as mentioned above make sure your Acupuncturist is aware of your situation.

Within the broad scope of traditional Asian medicine a special area for the treatment in pediatrics has been used with exceptional results. When prescribing herbal formulas in Asian medicine for children a general reduction dosage is common while specific formulas have been created to treat common illnesses during this time. TCM treatment has been able to treat many disorders such as colic, earache, diarrhea, cough, fever, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc.

By the use of a skilful selection of a herbal formula for each patient, a transformation in one’s general health can be affected without the dangerous side effects found in drug-based medicine. This is not to say that there are no side effects with the use of traditional Asian medicine but if the doctor of traditional Asian medicine prescribes a properly balanced herbal formula there would not be any major symptoms experienced.

Although Asian Herbs are safe when professionally prescribed by a trained knowledgeable individual, they have very strong effects. It is important that you only take Asian medicine herbal formulas from a practitioner with adequate schooling in the specific subject of Asian Medicine Herbs. Feel free to ask your Asian Medicine Doctor about their Training and credentials to obtain a greater level of confidence in your treatment.

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