Chinese Herbal medicine
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What is Chinese herbal medicine?
Chinese herbal medicine has a history of use for over 2000 years. It assists in the management of acute and chronic health complaints.
The administration of Chinese herbs is generally as a formula. Within a formula, one or more herbs are combined and prepared as a decoction, powder or pill.
The synergistic combination of herbs sends a specific message to the body. This message helps restore the healthy functioning of the body. The administration method reinforces this message to the body.
Chinese herbal medicine replenishes nutrition and restores the functioning of the body. These aspects of health are damaged by:
- External climatic environment
- Mental and emotional stress
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Toxic overload
What are Chinese Herbs?
Chinese herbalists utilise substances found in nature. These include seeds, leaves, barks and minerals.
These substances, such as cinnamon, liquorice or ginger, are often familiar. Others such as Bupleurum or Astragalus may not be so familiar to the modern day palate.
We may also use insect or animal products. At Dantian Health, endangered species and unethically sourced products are never used. Alternatives are usually available for people who follow a vegetarian lifestyle.
How does Chinese herbal medicine work?
Chinese herbal medicines work to:
- Enhance digestion
- Restore the functioning of your internal organs
We view each substance used in Chinese Herbal medicine through the properties of:
Together, these properties guide the herb to elicit a specific effect on the body. The synergistic effect of using multiple herbs simultaneously affects many functions of the body. This helps to restore the functional dynamics of the entire body.
This differs from the Western herbalist approach to selecting herbs. In Western herbalism the focus is on the individual biochemical effects of each herb. Herbs are generally selected individually as opposed to within a synergistic formula. In this way, we find the same herbal substance within both paradigms. The difference is in the intention and focus of understanding its effect on the body.
Chinese Herbal Medicine – is it safe?
Questions often arise about Chinese herbal medicine toxicity. Pesticide contamination and foreign materials are a concern. Please read this article for more discussion on this topic.
Some herbs used within Chinese herbal medicine have a toxic nature. We usually prescribe these herbs for a very short term for acute and severe conditions. Careful attention to the processing and preparation of these herbs reduces toxicity. In the prescription of a herbal formula, the synergistic effects of all herbs reduce the potential toxicity further.
Any substance in the right dosage can have a toxic effect on the body. It is important to only take herbs prescribed by a trained and registered Chinese herbalist. This ensures you take the most appropriate herbs for your condition in the safest manner.
An area of particular concern is the question “is Chinese Herbal Medicine safe during pregnancy?” Chinese herbs have a history of use for many centuries during pregnancy. Herbs help with side effects of pregnancy such as morning sickness, fatigue and threatened miscarriage. Proper training allows a Chinese herbalist to prescribe the safest herbs during pregnancy.
What happens during Chinese herbal medicine consultations?
During an initial consultation, we discuss your primary health concerns. Of importance, your goals for your health and your medical history. This includes current and historical events that have impacted your health.
In follow-up consultations, we pay less attention to your history. Questions more closely attend to changes in your current symptom picture.
Diagnosis includes the use of methods unique to Oriental medicine. These include:
- Taking your pulses
- Observation of your tongue
- Palpation of your Hara (abdomen)
We consider all this information to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan. Chinese herbal formulas are then tailored specifically to your presentation.
As treatment progresses, symptoms shift. The dynamics of your body also shifts, hence, we modify or change the formula. This ensures that your formula best assists your current stage on the journey to restoring health.
We prescribe Chinese herbal formulas in many different forms. Each with its own benefits and specific purpose. This includes:
At Dantian Health, I prescribe formulas in the form of herbal granules. In this form, the herbs have been decocted to extract their active constituents. I then combine individual herbs to create your specific formula. This formula matches the presenting needs of your body. Granules allow for easy consumption as the only preparation required is adding warm water to your granule formula.
Chinese herbal formulas offer a drug-free alternative to the management of pain and health conditions. If you are taking any medications or supplements, discuss this with your practitioner to avoid any possible interactions.
How to become a Chinese herbalist
The minimum qualification in Chinese herbalism is a 4-5 year Bachelors degree. They generally teach this in conjunction with acupuncture. Study includes both Western and Chinese medical sciences. Supervised clinical prescribing ensures appropriate experience in prescribing herbs.
For this reason it is best to visit a properly trained and registered Chinese herbalist. This ensures the formula you are taking is, and remains, the most appropriate for your current health.
Chinese herbal medicine Melbourne
Training to be a Chinese herbalist involves the study of the TCM methodology. This is a mixture of many different schools of thought from throughout the long history of Chinese medicine.
At Dantian Health, I have pursued postgraduate studies in the Tian family lineage of classical herbal medicine. This is under the tutelage of Arnaud Versluys of ICEAM, the current head of this lineage. I have graduated this program with a Diploma in Canonical Chinese Medicine. This study includes me in a small group of practitioners worldwide who have been inducted into this lineage.
This is resemblant of the classical method of learning. Study would be with a single master, allowing a more in-depth grasp of a particular school of thought.
The key element to practice within the Tian lineage is the emphasis on in-depth pulse analysis. This helps to determine which herbs and formulas are indicated by the body. This allows for more confidence in selecting the correct formula for your health. It also provides a concrete method to track the progress of treatment.
The formulas used at Dantian Health have around for 2000 years of documented use. They come from the oldest clinical text on Chinese medicine available, the Shang Han Za Bing Lun.
Dantian Health offers Chinese Herbal medicine consultations at two locations – Brunswick in inner north Melbourne and Yarrambat in the northeast.
What else would you like to know?
Thanks for reading this far. Have I missed your question? Was something unclear? Let me know in the comments below!