Understanding Chinese Herbs: What You Need to Know
Medicinal herbs are an integral part of Classical Chinese Medicine. Herbal medicine focuses on achieving health and balance within an individual's body, and can strengthen, support and nourish the body in an effective, safe and natural way.
The use of plants and natural resources for medicinal and therapeutic purposes is an ancient form of healing. This form of healing was used in ancient civilizations including China, Egypt, Greece, Tibet, Persia and India.
The Academy for Five Element Acupuncture notes, “An estimated three-quarters of the world’s population, especially those in developing countries, rely on herbal medicine. Almost a quarter of all modern prescription drugs, including aspirin, are derived from plant sources. There is also a strong tradition of Western herb use in the United States where patients are seeking more natural sources of medicine.” The use of herbal medicine is widely used and incredible beneficial.
At Green Lake Natural Health, we only dispense herbal medicinals manufactured with the highest standards. All medicinals carried at Green Lake Natural Health have been strictly tested for the absence of pesticides, heavy metals, and/or other contaminants.
Our medicinal herbs are prescribed to suit each individual patient's current needs. We are committed to excellence when it comes to the level of care we provide for our clients.
That being said, you may be curious to know and understand more about the value of medicinal herbs. Keep reading for more about what they do and how they can help heal the body.
What Are Medicinal Herbs in Classical Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation notes an extremely wide range of substances fall into the category of Chinese herbs commonly include a diverse selection of plant parts, such as leaves, blossoms, stems and roots and occasionally incorporates minerals and prepared animal parts. Chinese medicine recognizes that everything is essentially Qi, or energy, and so unique energies that can impact the human body and energy system and benefit ones overall heath.
What to Expect in a Medicinal Chinese Herbs Consultation
The Daily Mail briefly recounted what patients often experience when going in for help with healing through Chinese herbs:
Patients will be asked about lifestyle and medical history as well as reactions to stress and temperature. A diagnosis - where a practitioner looks at the tongue and takes a pulse reading - is made to determine where the imbalances of Yin and Yang lie in our organs and which of the five elements are lacking.
If you are too cold or moist, you may be prescribed warming herbs such as ginger, cloves or cinnamon. If you are too hot, you may be prescribed Chinese peony or dandelion to help cool you down. A typical herbal formula contains at least five different herbs. Herbs are usually drunk a few times a day before or after mealtimes.
At Green Lake Natural Health, we offer herbal consultations that typically last around 30 minutes. I start with a detailed intake of your current concerns and provide an individualized herbal prescription, taking into consideration any current medications you are currently on.
Depending on your health concerns or challenges, here’s how many treatments you can expect:
Acute injuries with no preexisting history of injury: Typically 2 to 6 weeks depending on the severity of the injury.
Acute injuries with preexisting history of injury: Commonly 2 to 8 weeks, but likely closer to the 6 to 8 week mark.
Chronic injuries: A common rule of thumb for herbs is they are taken for 1 month for every year the injury has been present; it can be several months or longer.
Wellness: Maintenance formulas are usually taken as needed up to 3 months and then given a break before starting a new cycle.
You can read more about treatments for pain and illness and how many appointments you will likely need here.
What Do Chinese Medicinal Herbs Help With?
As in Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are many different aspects of the body that herbal medicine can address. Here are just a few of the ailments that herbs can help with:
Men’s Health Issues
Women’s Health Issues
Joint Pain and Issues
Health and Wellness
Who Can Benefit from Chinese Herbs?
Just about everyone! Chinese herbs don’t only have to be used when you are sick, in pain or have an injury. While they are largely used to address chronic and acute issues, herbs can also be used to maintain a healthy life.
Here are a few different types of people who can benefit from Chinese herbs from Dr. Axe:
Chinese herbs focus on helping to correct disorders of specific organs and unhealthy body patterns. The goal of herbal therapy is to bring the body back into a state of homeostasis (balance) and restore proper energy (also called Qi). You can learn more about the different channels of the body in Classical Chinese Medicine and energy in my blog post.
Herbal medicine can address a range of symptoms and conditions from a variety of health challenges, including but not limited to those with, “[chronic] colds or the flu, fatigue, chronic respiratory issues, infertility, allergies, chronic pain, anxiety or depression, trouble sleeping, menopausal symptoms and even people recovering from cancer or chemotherapy.”
“Some scenarios that make a patient a good candidate for herbal therapy include having more than one unexplained symptom, feeling fatigued on top of having other symptoms, not responding well to medications or experiencing side effects, or feeling anxious or depressed, in addition to having other symptoms.”
The Academy for Five Element Acupuncture also provided a list of those who can benefit from herbal medicine, including:
Those looking for greater balance and harmony.
A person with an acute or chronic condition such as allergies, asthma, migraines, IBS and insomnia
Someone with emotional challenges such as anxiety, stress, fear, addictions, anger, grief, or depression.
Those seeking caring and compassionate practitioners who listen.
Those ready for an alternative, yet proven solution to health issues.
What are the Different Types of Chinese Herbs?
As mentioned above, medicinal herbs are used from a variety of elements that come from the earth. Medicinal Plants put together a helpful list of the most popular plants that are used in Classical Chinese Medicine:
Ginseng: This plant is known for its aphrodisiac qualities and healing properties. It is typically used to correct men’s health issues, hepatitis, women’s health problems, high blood pressure and more.
Angelica Sinesis or Dang Gui: This is a powerful herb in Chinese medicine that has the ability to relax muscles; it is helpful for addressing problems in a variety of diseases. This herb is also used to treat infertility issues, heart problems, angina and high blood pressure.
Mushrooms: This resource is considered incredibly healthy to eat because they are low in calories and high in nutrients. In Chinese medicine, they are used to maintain health, fight tumors and insomnia.
Goji or Wolfberry: This herb is incredibly popular in Chinese medicine and China and is used in food preparation; it is now even a popular health item in western cultures. This one is known as a wonder in Chinese medicine because of the healing properties.
Coptis Chinensis: Known as Chinese goldthread, this is one of the most bitter herbs in Chinese medicine and aides in healing digestive tract diseases.
Licorice Root: This common herb is praised for its healing properties and detoxification power. It can be used to treat issues like hepatitis, asthma, depression, cold, flu, heartburn and more. As Medicinal Plants explains, “It is used in Chinese medicine to harmonize all the other medicinal herbs that goes into a formula.”
Astragalus: Used for 4,000 years in Chinese medicine as a way to enhance the body’s immunity, this herb is known to heal wounds and injuries quickly; it’s also known prevent infections.
Ginger: You’ve probably used this in your kitchen and enjoyed it with your favorite sushi. It is also commonly added in hot water and a lemon at home. Ginger is incredibly aromatic and is known to cure indigestion, improve blood circulation and address cardiac problems.
Ephedra Sinica: Also known as Ma Huang, this is one of the oldest known herbs in Chinese medicine. This herb is used to treat asthma, cold and even hay fever.
Bupleurum: Seen as one of the more important herbs in Chinese medicine, this one is used to address liver diseases, arthritis, ulcers and mental disorders.
Using Chinese Herbs to Help Yourself
Chinese herbs are an incredibly important part of Classic Chinese Medicine along with acupuncture and Qi Gong. This is a natural way to address pain and illness without using pharmaceutical medication. Medicinal herbs are also used heavily to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep yourself balanced and on track.
If you are interested in Chinese herbs and Classic Chinese Medicine, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Are you ready to heal?
About Green Lake Natural Health:
Green Lake Natural Health provides natural healing services and medicinal herb counseling to patients. The mission of Green Lake Natural Health is to provide customized care to patients to effectively treat their health concerns in a natural manner that restores harmony and healing in the body. Services include, but are not limited to, acupuncture, massage, medicinal herb counseling to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain and more. Proudly serving the Seattle community since 2010.