About Chinese Herbs

Hand-in-hand as treatment with acupuncture, Chinese herbs have been the prevailing form of treatment in China for thousands of years. A billion Chinese people can’t be wrong! What I like is that nature has graciously provided us with everything we need to self-correct. In spring, for example, when many suffer with allergies, the herbs that help relieve the itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, etc. are the very blossoms that appear–magnolia, forsythia, honeysuckle. How cool is that?



Do Chinese herbs just mask symptoms?

In Chinese medicine we do what is called root and branch treatment. By branch we usually mean symptoms; the root is the underlying imbalance that is causing the symptoms. An herbal formula will often contain herbs to address the constitutional weaknesses of the patient, while the symptoms can still be relieved rather quickly in some cases by treating the branch.


How long do I have to take an herbal formula?

I once studied with a Chinese herbalist whose answer to this question was, "Until you don’t need them anymore!" Westerners want fast-acting relief, exact dosage information and a clear-cut timetable for healing. Unfortunately the body has its own wisdom and heals in its own time. We can usually know from past experience how long a situation may take to resolve, but Chinese herbal medicine is definitely an art form, not all science, and each person’s journey is unique. Your recovery will depend on how long you’ve had the condition, how compliant you are with all suggestions given, how acute or chronic the condition is, and variables you can’t always control, such as outside stresses.


In what form will I take my herbs?

In my office I usually rely on two main forms: pills and what are called granule formulas. Pills are usually small, round, easy to swallow and very inexpensive. Their downside is that I can’t customize them. Granule formulas are like instant coffee, you add hot water and drink. I can blend a formula specifically for your condition if it is complex and change it with each visit as you improve. These are slightly more expensive and some people find the taste of some of the formulas objectionable, but liquids are always absorbed more easily by than pills so if you have a digestive problem, it is sometimes best to start with a granule formula.