Chinese Herbal Medicine
Herbal Remedies are an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. (TCM). Generally combining herbal treatment with acupuncture, both cases basing diagnosis and treatment on TCM principles. Nourishing and harmonising herbal remedies serve as excellent tonics, strengthening those weakened by stress, overwork, serious illness, childbirth, menopause or poor diet and irregular eating. They also promote the smooth flow of energy, fluids and blood and thus reduce pain and congestion. Herbs with a cooling action can counteract fevers, night sweating, hot flushes and other signs of overheating. Equally, herbs with a warming action can help those who are cold. They work on the mind as well as the body, reducing such states as anxiety, depression and insomnia. Herbs can be used for acute as well as chronic conditions: for instance, mumps; colds; chest infections and acute cystitis.
The use of Chinese herbal preparations to treat skin conditions has been favourable - mentioned in "The Observer" and several other leading newspapers. The National Eczema Society has been funding scientifically controlled trials as Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital and, for adults, at the Royal Free Hospital.
M.E. (Post Viral Syndrome)
This often manifests with such chronic flu-like symptoms as aching muscles, extreme tiredness, a muzzy head with poor concentration and nausea. The body, perhaps initially weakened by overwork or stress, is unable to throw off a viral attack. Chinese herbalists have recognised and treated this condition for hundreds of years.
Safer than Orthodox Drugs
Herbal remedies are far safer than the drugs used in orthodox medicine. The latter's approach is to isolate an active ingredient (e.g. aspirin from willow bark, digoxin from foxglove). This means that it is not balanced by other ingredients in the plant that render it safer to use. The Chinese herb "Ma Huang" (Ephedra), for instance, yields ephedrine, an alkaloid that raises blood pressure if given as an extracted drug. In the whole plant there are other alkaloids, one of which lowers blood pressure.
What makes Chinese herbal medicine particularly safe (and effective) is the art of combining herbs to form a carefully balanced prescription. This would contain herbs not only to treat the main problem, but also ones to treat associated secondary problems; to help the body to absorb and assimilate some of the herbs; to direct them to particular areas of the body; and to counteract any adverse side effects from the more powerful herbs used. Each prescription given is usually based on a standard, classical one that has been tried and tested through centuries of use. It is modified to fit the needs of the patient. Herbs are usually given as decoctions produced by simmering dried herbs in water. "Cooking" times vary from less than 5 minutes for very aromatic herbs like mint to more that 30 minutes for tonics like ginseng. They may also be taken in pill form where the appropriate remedy is available. Although more convenient, especially for long-term use, pills are not necessarily as powerful or as flexible as decoctions.
Conditions that Respond to Treatment with Chinese Herbal Prescriptions
Chinese herbs may be used to treat a wide range of complaints including headaches; ear, eye and throat problems; toothache; sinusitis; asthma; bronchitis; hay fever; heart disease; angina; hypertension; ulcers; indigestion; diarrhoea; constipation; cystitis; thrush; prostatitis; period problems; menopausal problems; arthritis; back pain; sciatica; RSI; sporting injuries; weak immune system; lack of energy; ME; anxiety; insomnia; depression; eczema; acne; psoriasis; children's diseases.
See also Frequently Asked Questions