CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE
ancient wisdom for modern patients
Western pharmaceutical drugs are extremely useful for certain conditions and are life saving in some cases. They tend to act quickly and target a specific symptom, and work by opposing the body's attempt to heal itself. Pharmaceuticals are prescribed similarly to different people, regardless of their constitutional type and unique biological tendencies. Unfortunately this approach almost always take a toll on the body's internal balance, which leads to unwanted side effects that often require their own treatment.
When prescribed by a highly trained practitioner, particularly one well-versed in classical theory and practice, herbs enact strong therapeutic effects that can treat multiple symptoms at once. Rather than suppressing symptoms to offer relief, herbs actually remind the body of how to function properly again on its own.
Chinese herbs are always prescribed in the context of a formula, which usually contains between 5 and 15 ingredients that work synergistically to shift disruptive patterns that give rise to symptoms. Most of the formulas I use are modifications of ancient recipes passed down from antiquity, and that have proven to be clinically effective for countless people
How to Take Herbs
Formulas can be administered in a variety of formats. Traditionally, only bulk herbs were used. To make a bulk formula, an assortment of dried or fresh ingredients are simmered over a heat source until their medicinal qualities are thoroughly extracted. The material is then strained out, and the remaining decoction is divided into doses and consumed in several doses. This requires a fresh batch of medicine to be prepared every day or two as long as the course of treatment lasts.
While I am able to prescribe bulk herbs for those who enjoy the process of cooking them each day, there are several more convenient methods to take your herbs thanks to modern technological advances.
The most common format for taking Chinese herbs is in granulated form. Individual bulk herbs are decocted to extract their medicinal qualities, and the remaining decoction is bonded to a carrier such as potato or quinoa starch to create a shelf-stable product. Formulas are created by mixing various individual herbal granules together in specific ratios. Individual doses of the granule formula are measured out by weight and dissolved in hot water and then drank back like a tea.
I frequently use encapsulated herbs, especially from the Classical Pearls line, which boast some of the highest quality Chinese herbs available on the market. Most of these herbs have been decocted, reduced to the point of becoming solid, and finely ground into a powder usually without the use of a carrier starch. While the granules in these capsules can be emptied out and dissolved in hot water too, the convenience of taking herbs in this form makes sticking to your regimen easier while avoiding the strong flavour that herbs often have.
Several other formats of Chinese herbal medicine exist, which I use to a lesser extent. Alcohol-based tinctures, pills made in a base of honey, and topical applications such as plasters are other ways of leveraging the healing power of Chinese herbs.
Beyond Chinese Medicine
While classical Chinese medicine serves as the foundation for my approach to internal healing, people in the 21st century require a more diverse type of care than those in ancient times. For this reason, I often prescribe supplements and concentrated whole-food nutrients tailored to the specific needs of my patients.
Chinese herbal medicine strategically guides the body back into alignment with itself by supporting optimal physiological function.