Chinese herbal medicine is vast and is considered by many to be the backbone of Chinese medicine. General practice involves the use of between 200 and 300 different herbs. These are rarely used singly but rather in combinations known as formulas. Each formula may consist of between 2 and 20 different herbs - the average is about 12.
Individually tailored herbal prescriptions
Your condition is unique, and so may be each herbal formula. One of the key benefits of Chinese herbal medicine is its ability to be intricately tailored to suit the individual. Herbs can be added, removed or changed from your prescription as your condition improves and changes. It should NOT be a one size fits all approach.
In this practice every herbal formula is constructed from scratch based on the patient’s condition. Although these formulas may be based on one of the thousands of classical prescriptions that Chinese medicine offers, it is always reviewed, and potentially changed and tweaked as the condition changes.
What do the herbs look like?
Herbs are available in a number of different forms. In this practice, granulated herbal extracts are the norm and are prepared much like making a cup of instant coffee. Simply dissolve the granules in hot water and drink it like a tea.
You may have come into contact with Chinese herbs in raw form. These herbs are dried leaves, twigs, roots, bark, seeds, nuts, etc.; and are boiled in a large pot, reduced and drunk as a tea. Although this is herbal medicine in its most natural form, in reality is extremely time consuming and not conducive to the Western lifestyle.
It is unlikely that you will experience side effects from using Chinese medicine. Occasionally people note a slight light-headedness following acupuncture, or loose bowel movements after taking herbs. If this is the case, your treatment can usually be modified to avoid these reactions.
Can Chinese medicine be used in conjunction with modern medicine?
In most cases yes. There are very few reports of adverse interactions between Chinese medicine and conventional medicine. In fact, the two are routinely used to complement each other. For example, TCM is often used to treat the side effects of modern drugs, and to strengthen patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other heavy treatments. However, it is important that you discuss any medications you are currently taking (herbal and otherwise) with Chris at your initial consultation. He will then be able to assess any risks and modify any formulas appropriately.