Chinese Herbal Wisdom 101

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An important modality used by Chinese medicine practitioners for thousands of years, Chinese herbal therapy can be a highly effective and safe way to enhance and extend the effects of acupuncture treatment.

chinese-herbsEspecially when you’re seeking relief from long-standing or more serious health conditions, we strongly recommend taking herbal formulas to help rebalance and build your body’s energy on a daily basis. Clinically tested and researched over several millennia by acupuncturists, formulas consisting of several or more herbs working synergistically together are commonly prescribed for conditions ranging from infertility, irregular or difficult menses, and menopausal symptoms, to anxiety/stress/depression (and other mood disorders), high blood pressure, diabetes, pain/injury, GI and metabolism disorders, low energy, insomnia, immune system support, and so much more! Many formulas in use today originated centuries ago but are still highly relevant and effective for modern conditions.

Taking herbs on a daily basis are a bit like taking a treatment home with you, one that can build up your energy and tune up your body’s organ systems, little by little, every day. Many herbs that we use are food-based and familiar to you already as kitchen pantry staples: cinnamon (Rou Gui), ginger (Sheng Jiang), cardamom (Bai Dou Kou), cloves (Ding Xiang), turmeric (Jiang Huang), tangerine peel (Qing Pi), sprouted wheat (Mai Ya), mung beans (Lu Dou); the list goes on.

These familiar herbs have been included in traditional cuisines over the ages precisely because of their health-boosting properties—however, Chinese herbalists have taken food-as-medicine several steps further, creating a vast storehouse of healing wisdom using all of nature’s bounty, not limited to delicious tasting spices we use in common teas or culinary delights. There are over 530 medicinal herbs listed in the Chinese Materia Medica, and these include just the most commonly used ones. Some are pretty funky-tasting, we admit, but since we only prescribe tablets or teapills, which are herbal medicinal teas that have been dehydrated and concentrated, most people don’t have any issue getting them down twice a day.

10500918_mlOne of the most common questions we get about herbs: how long do I have to take them? Our answer is, as long as you’re experiencing symptoms of imbalance related to your condition! Often times, one feels better after several weeks of consistent supplementation, but only while taking the herbs. We want to get you to a place where you feel energized and balanced without having to take herbs on a regular basis. Sometimes this can take a little as a month; other times, for conditions that have been bothering you for years, even decades, you may need to take herbs regularly for several months at a time. Just as it took time for you to develop a health issue, it takes time to rebalance and rebuild your body’s energy to address that issue, especially if it has gotten to a critical level (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and so on).

We find that herbs often get a bad rap because of safety concerns or questions about effectiveness. All herbs that are distributed by US based companies are subject to FDA testing for heavy metals, pollutants, etc. Chinese herbs are perfectly safe and effective when prescribed by trained TCM practitioners, who undergo hundreds of hours of didactic and clinical training before graduating from an accredited Oriental Medicine school. To be on the safe side, be sure to take herbs only under the guidance of an acupuncturist who has a master’s of science in oriental medicine or has a PhD, DAOM, or OMD from an accredited school (including China).

With our staff of trained herbalists, we look forward to introducing you to the amazing array of traditional herbal medicine to help you feel your very best in mind, body, and spirit.

-Jennifer Oh, L.Ac. & Chinese Herbalist