Traditional Natural Medicine Chinese Herbal

Today, many conventional and alternative supermarkets alike carry an array of herbal supplements in their pharmacy sections. Most people aren’t familiar with the majority of the herbs listed on supplement labels, or whether they are actually effective treatments for common ailments. Regardless, herbology had become a subject of modern interest.

Traditional Chinese herbal medicine has studied the use of herbs as medicinal treatments for nearly 2,000 years. Chinese herbology is an established field with many practitioners and schools. Although it is still not widely accepted among practitioners of Western medicine, herbal Chinese medicine is becoming an increasingly popular alternative therapy in the West.

What is Herbal Medicine

A qualified herbalist usually begins a session by examining different areas of the body, such as the tongue, skin, eyes, hair and different pulse points, looking for signs of problems. Even the sound of your voice can help an herbalist discover ailments.

A reputable practitioner of eastern medicine usually will restore balance within your body by using some combination of:

  • herbal tinctures
  • pills
  • powders
  • syrups
  • teas.

Herbalists use over 400 formulas made up of as many as 12 ingredients. These ingredients may include some of the 4,000 herbs or 300 animal and mineral extracts commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine. Sometimes herbalists may even recommend diet changes to help make herbal remedies more effective.

Unfortunately, some of the animal ingredients come from endangered species, which has created some conflict between herbalists and conservationists and led to illegal poaching of rhinoceroses, seahorses and tigers. However, most herbal manufacturers have stopped using these illegal ingredients.

Benefits of Alternative Herbal Medicine

People suffering from a variety of ailments claim to have found help from herbal medicine. Some conditions that acupressure can treat include:

  • ADHD
  • addiction problems, including alcoholism
  • allergies
  • arthritis
  • hair loss (alopecia)
  • personality disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder
  • skin disorders, such as acne and rosacea.

Special treatments are also available for children and pregnant women.

Cost of Herbal Chinese Medicine

If your insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a visit to a local herbalist, expect to pay around $130 for an initial consultation. Follow-up appointments can cost around $100. Herbs in whatever form your health care provider recommends will cost more. A month’s supply of quality herbs can cost around $40.

Finding an Herbalist

Usually, a qualified practitioner of traditional Eastern medicine will be affiliated with some organization in his or her field. However, the qualifications for belonging to these organizations can vary widely, so be sure to check out whatever organization a practitioner claims affiliation with.

The American Board of Holistic Medicine has a list of traditional medicine providers across the country, which can be helpful. It is still your responsibility to investigate the qualifications of each individual provider, though.

Side Effects to Chinese Herbal Medicine

Sometimes, herbal manufacturers make a mistake about their ingredients, which can cause grave consequences for the people who take their supplements. For instance, recently a company mistook one herbal ingredient in a weight-loss pill for another with a similar name. The wrong herb led to kidney problems in the people who took it, and some people even died.

Even though Chinese herbal medicine has been around for almost 2,000 years, some of the ingredients for the supplements are produced in different ways today than they were traditionally. That means that their effects can be different too.

Also, prescription drugs and herbal supplements can have dangerous interactions sometimes. Before beginning a new medication or a new supplement, it’s best to check with both your doctor and herbalist about any potential interactions with medications that you already take.

Resources

American Cancer Society (2007). Chinese Herbal Medicine. Retrieved April 8, 2008, from the ACS Web site: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3x_Chinese_Herbal_Medicine.asp.

Life Medicine Clinic (n.d.). Chinese Herbal Medicine. Retrieved April 8, 2008, from the Life Medicine Clinic Web site: http://www.lifemedicineclinic.com/herbs.html.

Skinner, Patricia (2004). Holistic Medicine. Retrieved April 8, 2008, from the Caremark Health Resources CVS Web site: http://healthresources.caremark.com/topic/topic103548976.