What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) is one of the oldest herbal healing practices in the world, which dates back as far as the 3 rd century BC. This ancient medical system forms an essential part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and works in close conjunction with and follows the same principles and the other branches of TCM, such as Acupuncture, Tui na and Moxa. Chinese Herbal Medicine comprises of thousands of plants, some minerals and animal products. A combination of leaves, roots, stems, flowers and seeds are blended into a chosen formula, depending on what the practitioner is trying to treat, which can be taken in the form of teas, capsules, liquid extracts, granules and powders.
CHM is so popular in China, that it is state sponsored in hospitals throughout the country, where it is practiced alongside western medicine and enjoys equal status. In the UK, CHM is a relative newcomer, compared to that of Acupuncture, but it is rapidly increasing in popularity. Pathogenic pattern diagnosis is achieved by the analysis of the patient’s presenting signs and symptoms, dietary and lifestyle factors and an evaluation of past medical and familial history. Like in Acupuncture, special attention is given to the patient’s tongue and pulse. Once the practitioner has made a diagnosis, they can then prescribe a herbal formula that matches and redresses the pattern of disharmony of the patient. The practitioner may modify the formula as the patient improves, in order to accommodate any changes that the patient may present with as they heal.
Is Chinese Herbal Medicine Safe?
Some herbs are very potent and can interact with conventional medication. This can create serious side effects, and may be unsafe to use for people with certain medical conditions. Ephedra, also known as the Chinese herb Ma huang, has been linked to serious health complications, such as heart attacks or strokes.