Herbal therapy represents the highest form of medicine in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The Chinese knowledge of herbs represents an accumulation of a vast body of written commentary gathered over thousands of years. Chinese herbalism is by far the most advanced form of herbal therapy in the world today. The Chinese pharmacopoeia contains approximately 6,000 substances. Most often, two to twelve or more herbs are combined in a formula to address an underlying disharmony as defined by traditional analysis, and, when used properly, rarely cause disagreeable consequences.
"Herbs" are plant, mineral, and animal substances that the body assimilates through its digestive, respiratory, and cutaneous tissues. Herbs are used for maintenance/prevention and cure. Many of the herbs are nutritive, cannot be distinguished from food, and can be used as tonics to maintain optimal health. Other herbs and formulas are used to help us eliminate undesirable "things" (heat, cold, viruses, etc.), improve the functioning of our physical organs, boost the production of blood, qi and moisture, calm the mind, and so forth. Herbal formulas often come in the form of pills ("patents"), loose "teas", powder or liquid extracts.
Herbs are classified and used according to TCM principles. It is this system of classification that makes Chinese herbal therapy the most developed in the world.
Chinese herbal medicine can address any of the conditions treated by Western medicine.
Some of the indications for the formulas that I carry are:
|Acute:||Indigestion, Hyperacidity, Heartburn, Stomach flu, Colds, Sore throat, Headache, Urinary tract infections, Hemorrhoidal inflammation, Strep throat, Viral, bacterial and fungal infections, Sinus infections|
|Chronic:||Anxiety, Depression, Irritability, Insomnia, Weak digestion, Fatigue, Nausea, Abdominal pain, Bloating, "Brain fog", Diarrhea, Constipation, Irregular menses, Dysmenorrhea, PMS, Infertility, Menopausal disorders, Uterine fibroids, Ovarian cysts, Lumps, masses and other abnormal growths, Swollen lymph glands, Frequent urination, Incontinence|
|Tonic:||Post-partum recovery, Strengthening immune system, Degenerative brain functioning, Supporting specific organ systems, Supporting constitutional "types"|
Every month or so, there is a newspaper report concerning herbal formulas from China that contain ingredients or substances not listed. These "ingredients or substances" have included antibiotics, antihistamines, anti depressants and other pharmaceuticals, heavy metals such as mercury and lead, and high levels of pesticide and chemical residue.
Due to the lack of monitoring agencies or "third party verification" in China, it is very difficult to know what is in the formulas that are exported. This situation is slowly changing, but I would caution against any long term use of herbal products originating from China. An exception to this are herbal formulas from the Chinese company "KPC" that has an agreement with the Australian government to inspect their products and verify the contents.
I carry a line of herbal formulas in tablet and extract form from five companies: K'an (Herbals, Traditionals, and Modular Solutions), Golden Flower, Health Concerns, Mycoherb and KPC (mentioned above).
With the exception of KPC, these companies are located in the United States, have their own labs for testing and verification, and fall under the guidelines and scrutiny of the FDA. In addition, K'an, Golden Flower, and Health Concerns all employ third party, independent lab testing to verify that the herbs used are free of pesticide residues, microbial activity, and heavy metals. Due to monitoring by the FDA, all of the ingredients in the formulas are clearly listed on the containers.
The herbal formulas that I carry cost between $30 and $40 per month's use.
For acute concerns, a few days to a week or so is usually sufficient to resolve the concern.
For chronic concerns, a few months use is often indicated.
Tonics may be used indefinitely, or 2-3 times per year at 6-12 weeks per course.
I will often suggest herbal formulas after an Acupuncture, Shiatsu, or Tui Na session. In these cases there is no additional consultation fee.
Calvin Dale Smith, BA, MSc, R-TCMP, R-Ac
Registered Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioner
Riverside Acupuncture and Wellness Centre
2211 Riverside Dr., Suite 106
Ottawa, ON K1H 7X5