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Chinese Herbal Medicine

What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
Chinese herbal medicine uses the most potent of plants, minerals, and at times animal substances to effect the human body.   The full spectrum  nature of  these whole substances allows for a natural balance of constituents which reduces negative effects in a way that pharmaceuticals cannot.  Moreover, hundreds of years of clinical diligence and intellectual pursuit by physicians and scholars have allowed for a vast understanding of how to combine herbs together to further strengthen different aspects of these substances and reduce side effects even further.  This process of herb combining has allowed Chinese Herbal Medicine to be one of the safest, most potent, and therapeutically relevant medicines in the world for centuries.

How do you know what herbs do to the body?
The Most common herbs used consist of around 450 different plant, mineral, and animals substances.  These substances are divided into around 30 categories.  For more then a thousand years these substances have been combined into many thousands of possible formulas of 2-20 herbs.  Many of these formula’s are exceptional in their design and have been used so many times throughout history that they have  come to be known as classical formulas.

There are many spins or renditions of these formulas and in realty any possible formula or variation could be created by a skilled herbalist and diagnostician. Chinese herbalists today may take some of these formulas for granted because they are so useful and there is so much accessible information.  However, the herbalists of the past which founded and perfected many of these herbal combinations and applications would have been the genius’s of their day.

How do we know which herbs to use?
In addition to a well developed arsenal of medicines, a very extensive and detailed system of diagnostics was formed.  Included in this is a very clear explanation of the different internal relationships of the body such as disease theory and interactions between the organs, vessels, ant the various systems of the body to include practically all functions.  Together these understandings have allowed for a the development of numerous diagnostic tools which we can use to determine which herbs and formulas to use and even which areas of the body to use for acupuncture.

Signs and Symptoms:  Naturally the information presented by the patient is of very high value.  What is the condition?  How long has it been there? What happens as a result of this condition.  Is it hot or cold?  Is it dry or damp?  Is it internal or external? Is there pain?  Are you experiences abnormal bodily functions?  Is there other pertinent information?  All this information gathered can be processed to come up with an understanding as to what is happening to the body.  Every person is unique and complex so the task of forming a Chinese Medicine diagnoses of great detail can be challenging at times.  This is why there are some particularly useful objective diagnostic methods to combine with interviewing a patient so that the clearest understanding of a patients constitution, state of health, and existing pathology can be determined.

The Pulse: Pulse taking can be  an incredibly informative and valuable tool to gather a tremendous amount of information about the person being examined.  The more skilled the diagnostician the more information they can gather and the more accurate it can be.  Chinese Medicine pulse taking can be so powerful diagnostically that a practitioner could treat solely based on the pulse of a patient.  Please click here for a short story that demonstrates the respect for pulse taking in China.