While acupuncture is much more common in the United States, Chinese (“Oriental” is commonly used as the herbs are grown in many different locations) herbal medicine is the standard ” traditional” treatment in many parts of the world, including China. When a person goes to a traditional medicine clinic in China, a doctor diagnoses his or her problem and prescribes an herbal formula. The diagnosis is made according to differential diagnosis. That means that a patient is treated according to how they express an illness rather than a standard set of protocols associated with a particular disease. Information about the patient is gathered through questioning and palpating the pulse and abdomen. All of the complaints and symptoms are taken into consideration when forming a diagnosis even though they may seem unrelated to the patient. Oriental medicine honors the patient not the disease. This is a very complex, individualized system of medicine. The materia medica consists of thousands of individual herbs, but they are almost never taken alone. The herbs work synergistically and a typical formula contains anywhere between six to eighteen herbs. Herbs come in many forms such as tinctures, granules and raw herbs. I use whatever form is most beneficial and cost effective for the patient I am treating.
Is Herbal Medicine Safe? People often ask, “Are Chinese herbs safe?” Most formulas and herbs have been used on human beings for thousands of years, and there is a written history of contraindications based on experience. We are fortunate that Chinese medicine is one of the few surviving traditional medicines with written texts still in existence. Compare this to the more recent use of pharmaceutical drugs that are tested on animals in laboratories or on humans (not children) for relatively short periods of time. Like any product, some herbs are better quality than others. At the Moxa Shack, we use herbs processed with the highest standards for good manufacturing.