Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine has been used for centuries to cure diseases and alleviate discomfort due to many different disorders. The first herbal classic written in china was published in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) called the Agriculture Emperors Materia Medica. The first plants discovered and used were usually for digestive system disorders (i.e., Da Huang ) and slowly as more herbs were discovered the herbs became more useful for an increasing number of ailments and herbal tonics were created. In China 80% of all traditional Chinese medical patients are treated with herbs while the remaining 20% are treated with acupuncture, Tui-na or Qi Gong.

Every herb has its own properties which include its energy, its flavor, its movement and its related meridians to which it connects too.
The four types of energies are cold, cool, warm and hot. Usually cold or cool herbs will treat fever, thirst, sore throat and general heat diseases. Hot or warm herbs will treat cold sensation in the limbs, cold pain and general cold diseases.

The five flavors or herbs are pungent, sweet, sour, salty and bitter.
Pungent herbs are generally used to induce perspiration and promote circulation of both blood and Qi. These herbs are usually used for superficial disorders. Sweet Herbs have 3 main functions; nourishing deficiency, harmonizing other herbs or reduce toxicity, relieve pain and slow the progression of acute diseases. Sour Herbs also have 3 functions; constrict, obstruct and solidify. These herbs are good to stop perspiration, stop diarrhea, stop seminal emission and stop leucorrhea. Salty herbs soften hardness, lubricate intestines and drain downward. These herbs are used to treat hard stool with constipation or hard swellings as in diseases like goiter. Bitter herbs induce bowel movements, reduce fevers and hot sensations, re direct rebellious Qi, dry dampness and clear heat. They can also nourish the kidneys and are used to treat damp diseases.

After a herb is absorbed by a patient it can move in 4 different directions; upward towards the head, downward towards the lower extremities, inward toward the zang-fu organs or outward towards the superficial regions of the body. Upward movement herbs are used for falling symptoms like prolapsed organs. Downward moving herbs are used to push down up surging symptoms like coughing and vomiting. Outward moving herbs are used to induce perspiration and treat superficial symptoms that are moving towards the interior of the body. Inward movement of herbs induce bowel movements and promote digestion.

Each herb will have a corresponding meridian or meridians to which it will correspond to. For example; Jie Geng corresponds to the lungs and can be used for asthma or cough. Rib pain and sore eyes relate to the liver so as Gou Teng has an affinity for the liver meridian it can be used for the treatment of liver diseases. Raw herbs are very potent in treating a variety of medical disorders but patients find it strange bring home bags of raw herbs to cook. The resulting herbal tea usually tastes and smells bitter and unfamiliar. Patients seem to prefer the herbs in pill form which are offered at our office. At Therapeutic Systems we will help you try to find the Chinese Herbal Medicine that best suites your needs.


Herbs vs. Pharmaceutical Drugs

The Chinese Herbal approach involved ingesting the whole/plant/animal substance versus the Western Pharmacological approach which involves extracting the potent molecule. In the Western Pharmacological approach they take a plant substance, find the most effective molecule for certain diseases, extract it, patent it and sell it in very high concentrations, whereas the Chinese Herbs are in their natural form.

For example, ephedrine which is derived from the Chinese Medicine Ma Huang. Ephedra was put into a concentrated capsule form for the treatment of asthma in Western Medicine. In its pharmaceutical form, ephedra can over-stimulate the heart, leading to high blood pressure, palpitations and increased nervousness. However, in Chinese medicine ephedra is used in its natural from, where epherdra has concentrations of less than 1% for the treatment of asthma. Although the beneficial effects are gradual there are far fewer side effects
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