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Chinese herbal medicine - Restoring balance to the body

Chinese Herbal Medicine

The Chinese medicine encompasses many forms of medicine, among which is the herbal medicine. Instead of trying to cure a disease Chinese herbal medicine is aimed at restoring the body’s energy and spirit. There are many components of the Chinese herbal medicine employed for different aspects of one’s health that it is fairly difficult to analyze all of them. Also, it should be noted that practitioners have discovered that certain Chinese herbs contribute to cancer treatment when coupled with modern medicine methods but further research is necessary to better understand their effectiveness. Contrary to modern medicine’s striving to treat the root cause of a problem, Chinese herbal medicine focuses on the alleviation of symptoms. The practitioners focus on dealing with the imbalances, which are causing various health problems. 

The Herbs

The most commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine are eleuthero, ginseng, green tea, ginko, and astragalus. They are combined to treat numerous health issues such as breathing difficulties, hormonal imbalance, infections of various sorts, and so on. Many followers claim that herbal blends can prevent different types of cancers but they do not ascertain that the herbs can cure the disease once it starts to develop. On the other hand, when coupled with radiation or chemotherapy herbal blends assist in easing the pain, strengthening the immune system, and overall improving the quality of life. 

When it comes to actually creating the medications, there are over 3,000 herbs and 300 minerals and various other extracts involved in creating 400 different recipes. The Chinese herbal blends can be produced in different forms such as syrups, pills, tinctures, powders, and teas. The major problems are usually treated by a combination of 1 to 2 herbs, while the rest of the ingredients are present to treat minor symptoms or to improve the effects of the main contributors.

As a result of the growing popularity of Chinese herbal medicine many herbs and blends are sold all over the US in pharmacies, health food stores or directly from the practitioners. In addition, when creating a formula for a patient, most practitioners perform a physical examination involving the skin, tongue, eyes, hair, voice, and pulse to try to understand where the imbalance is coming from.  The symptoms definitely play a major role in creating a blend of herbs for each individual.

In addition, behind today’s formulas lie thousands of years of development and implementation. During the Ming dynasty the classic book on Chinese herbal medicine was first written, and it included over 2,000 herbs and animal extracts. The latest edition of the book was revised in the 1990 only to include 500 of the most effective herbs and extracts and 300 minerals.

The use of Chinese herbal medicine in China had been viewed as folklore between the time periods of the spreading of the Western medicine and the end of WWII. Today, on the other hand, the Chinese government supports the use of both the modern Western medicine and their own herbal medicine. As far as the usage of the traditional Chinese herbal medicine goes in the US it first became popular in the 1970s.  Interestingly, around 40 states issue licenses for practicing Oriental medicine in the United States through 50 different colleges.  

Possible Complications

It should be noted that there are various kinds of substances, which have not been thoroughly examined when it comes to their interactions with nutritional supplements, foods, or medications. Therefore, most available information on any side or adverse effects of Chinese herbal medications should be viewed as limited. When it comes to combining prescription medications and herbal formulas individuals should always be cautious, as many ingredients of the herbal medications are not always listed.  For instance, diabetics need to stay away from particular Chinese herb formulas as they contain substances which can have negative effects on their health but are not clearly identified.

It is always advised that individuals who wish to take any types of alternative medications consult with their primary health care provider first in order to avoid medical complications. There have been publications on various herbal formulas containing prescription drugs or even some toxic substances such as lead or mercury so it is best to buy traditional Chinese herbs only from authorized practitioners.

Outside the US there have been some similarly alarming findings. For instance, in Japan researchers found that some herbal medications can lead to serious thyroid and liver difficulties.  Further, out of a wide range of herbs cultivated in China there are some that are known to be toxic, but there have been instances in which such plants have been mistakenly used in herbal formulas. Nevertheless, many of the previous problems that the traditional Chinese herbal medicine has been associated with have been resolved and as long as the products are purchased from a reliable source with permission from the primary health care provider the individual should be safe.

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