"Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission."
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Herbal Medicine

What Is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
Herbal Medicine is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and has been used for thousand's of years. Specific herbs or herb combinations may be chosen to help naturally restore the body to health and rebalance organ system dysfunction.

Chinese Herbal Medicine has several thousand plant substances in its pharmacopeias. Traditionally, herbs were cooked in a pot, called a decoction. At our clinic we prefer using herbs in pill form, as well as tinctures (liquid concentrate) as it works as well and is easier and quicker to use.

Many of the same herbs can be found in other parts of the world, so the herbs themselves are not necessarily unique. So what is unique about Chinese Herbal Medicine that is different from Western Herbal Medicine?

Uniqueness of Chinese Formulas
It is the differential diagnosing that distinguishes the practice of Chinese Herbal Medicine.  A skilled herbalist will ask about a patient’s symptoms as  well as use diagnostic techniques unique to Chinese Medicine. After evaluating all information, a formula will be prepared that is tailored to that individual as a whole, not just the disease. It is this detail that helps to create a precise formula and obtain superior results.

The study of Chinese Herbal Medicine takes many years to master and is extremely complex, but is brilliant in its accumulated wisdom throughout the centuries.  The herbs are mostly prescribed in formulas, consisting of specific combinations of herbs. These herbs each have unique qualities, as well as synergistic effects as a whole. Formulas include main herbs, assistant herbs, messenger herbs, and harmonizing herbs.  Some herbs can direct the formula to an area in the body e.g. upper torso or e.g. head. Changing even one herb or increasing or decreasing the quantity of an herb can influence the formula’s effects.

One of the reasons that some of the Western research with herbs hasn’t shown the expected effectiveness is that many herbs work better in combination, while researchers like to isolate herbs for study purposes. Most of the clinical research in China is done with these combinations, called formulas, and this explains why their success rates are consistently higher than what we find in Western Herbal Medicine.

How Herbs Work
Herbs work by providing small quantities of bio-nutrients that exert a beneficial effect on body functioning. Even if we ate a perfect diet, our foods are now grown in such a way that they provide much lower concentrations of essential nutritional substances than they once did. Herbs concentrate these chemicals in higher quantities than that found in foods, and their use can help rebalance a body starved of these chemicals. Herbal formulations balance these chemicals safely and effectively, and help restore nutrients the body needs to reduce inflammation, regulate immune function and increase the energy needed to heal. These formulas are personally designed for each individual’s unique needs.

Safety of Herbs
Practitioners at Acupuncture Center of Cary are trained extensively in the use of herbs, both in their safety and effectiveness. Side effects from the use of herbs are possible, but, compared to drugs, extremely uncommon. For example, it is estimated by medical researchers that 100,000 people die each year directly from medications administered in the hospital, and another 15-20,000 die from the use of NSAIDS (like aspirin and acetaminophen). Compare that with the couple of people who die each year from herbs—and these always self-administered, and used inappropriately.

The herbs used in our clinic are professional products sold to Doctors and are GMP-certified, which means they passed testing for quality and purity, and are free of any contaminants. Herb quality can vary greatly, depending on growing practices and harvesting techniques. We carefully select the products we use based on a thorough and critical review of these practices.

Drug-Herb Interactions
We take a detailed medical history of each patient and always inquire about the medications that our patients may be taking.  Herbal Medicines are usually advised to be taken at a separate time from any medications.

Our education includes knowledge about the proper dosage of herbs as well as possible drug-herb interactions. The ongoing conferences we attend include expanding our knowledge in this area. The FDA and the Chinese herbal profession are working together to ensure the quality of herbs that are imported into our country and much effort is going into creating better drug-herb interaction databases for the future of Chinese Herbal Medicine.

It should be noted that many of the so-called herb-drug interactions are actually an over-lapping of similar actions of the drug and the herb. For example, some herbs will decrease insulin resistance, thereby lowering blood sugar. A person taking insulin will need to monitor closely and will likely be able to reduce their insulin dosage. This is not a negative interaction, but a positive one, as often the use of herbs enable patients to reduce or even eliminate their medications.

Conditions treated by Chinese Herbs
Chinese Herbal Medicine is used for most of the same conditions that Acupuncture treats, and can be used alone or in combination with ongoing Acupuncture treatments. Many patients use our formulas to further the healing process in conjunction with the Acupuncture treatment. While Acupuncture treatment is administered generally once a week, the herbs can be taken several times a day, and can be continued after Acupuncture treatments are finished.

Common Conditions addressed by Chinese Herbal Formulas:

  • Colds and Flu, Allergies, Sinusitis, Asthma, Bronchitis
  • PMS, Painful Menstruation, Infertility, Menopause
  • Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Anemia
  • Constipation, Diarrhea, Gastritis, IBS, Colitis, Ulcers
  • Urinary Tract Infections, Frequent Urination
  • Migraines, Headaches, Insomnia, Back Pain
  • Anxiety, Stress, , Depression, Mood Swings
  • Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, Detoxification, Hepatitis
  • Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, Hypothyroid

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