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Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine dates back to the 3rd Century BC & is based on the concept of Yin & Yang. It aims to understand & treat the ways in which the balance & harmony between the two can be blocked or depleted.
Chinese Herbal Medicine

In This Article
History How does it work?
Typical appointment What to expect
Timings/ Cost/ Sessions Is it right for you?

The early records of Chinese Herbal Medicine date back around 2,000 years but its true origins could be many centuries before that. Evidence suggests early Shamanic uses of herbal medicine however the first recorded Chinese herbalists began therapeutic treatment around 150AD. Chinese Herbal Medicine developed alongside other Far East herbal based therapies from Japan and Vietnam.

Chinese surgeon Hua Tuo is considered one of the first exponents of Chinese Herbal Medicine using various herbs to create natural remedies.  Zhang Zhong Jing, an eminent Chinese physician and one of the early Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioners, wrote a book called 'Shang Han Za Bing Lun' around 200AD that contained over 100 herbal formulas. 

Chinese Herbal Medicine forms part of what is known as "Traditional Chinese Medicine" or TCM, along with therapies such as Acupuncture, Acupressure and Massage. Chinese Herbal Medicine has been popularised in the West over the last two decades and is one of the most used forms of alternative therapy in the world.

Ancient Chinese philosophy states that Chinese Herbal Medicine helps to restore the balance of Yin and Yang and aims to free blocked life energy or qi (chi) that flows through channels (known as meridians) in the body. By creating herbal formulas for specific conditions and ailments, the Chinese Herbalist looks to boost the immune system, regulate internal organs and aid the body's natural healing process.

Chinese Herbal Medicine can take the form of soups, teas, tinctures or capsules which contain the extracts and essences of herbs. Unlike pharmaceutical medicine that takes on a generic prescription to treat everyone, Chinese Herbal Medicine comprises of a number of herbs that are tailored to suit the individual's problem and therefore no two prescriptions will be the same.

As a holistic therapy, Chinese Herbal Medicine looks to maintain overall health and the therapy places emphasis on preventing disease before it occurs. Therefore, it can be used before the onset of disease as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Be prepared - It is advisable to choose a Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your herbal therapy session is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main Chinese Herbal Medicine organisations are listed at the foot of this article.

It is important to remember that a Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner may utilise other traditional Chinese therapies such as Aupuncture, Acupressure or Massage. Check that your practitioner has suitable training.

Avoid eating a large meal before your appointment as digestion can affect the pattern of your pulse. Don't drink alcohol and avoid any food or drink that will discolour your tongue. If you are taking prescribed medicines, take them with you to your appointment and make the practitioner aware.

Before your appointment, spend time thinking about your condition and what you expect to achieve with Chinese Herbal Medicine. Make some notes before you attend about your expectations and concerns. If you have a few conditions, put them in order so the practitioner can address the most severe first. Secondary problems can then be addressed further down the line.

During your appointment, the Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner will first make a diagnosis using information provided by you about your general health, your symptoms, your diet, quality of your bowel movements and sleep patterns.

The practitioner may also use various physical examinations such as looking at your tongue and its colour, shape and coating (the tongue is said to show any imbalance within the meridians of the body). The Herbal practitioner may also check each wrist for six pulses that give information about the health of your internal organs and the body in general.

Once the Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner has completed their assessment, they will recommend a herbal formula or remedy that will consist of a number of herbs (on average 10-15). They will advise you on how to prepare the herbs and at what times to take them. This prescription may be available to take away on the day of your appointment but sometimes it can take a day or two to prepare and you will need to return to pick it up.

The herbal formula often has a bitter taste when taken as a tincture, tea or soup but many people find the health benefits far outweigh this unusual taste. Many formulas are available in a capsule form and can be taken with water. Your practitioner will advise you on what formula is best for your condition.

Be prepared to also make lifestyle changes to help with your therapy, this may include dietary changes or exercise. Chinese Herbal Medicine takes a holistic approach and will require you to make adjustments to achieve results.

Treatment times vary and your first appointment will usually take a little longer while the Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner diagnoses your problem. Expect to be at your first session for about 45 minutes.

Practitioner's costs vary from town to town but expect your first appointment to cost around £40 with subsequent sessions around £25. You will also be required to pay for your herbal prescription. Again, costs vary but expect to pay £5 - £10 depending on the formula. Check with your local practitioner before making an appointment.

The number of Chinese Herbal Medicine sessions you will require can depend on your condition. If you have been suffering with a chronic problem over many months then expect the therapy to take longer to work. Your practitioner will advise you on when to book a follow up appointment so they can assess your progress and make adjustments to the herbal formula should it be required.

Chinese Herbal Medicine has proved to be an effective therapy for many people with varying conditions. The medicine is safe and can be used as a complementary therapy alongside pharmaceutical medicine. However, you should inform your practitioner about any prescribed drugs or medications you are taking. Consult with a local practitioner to see how Chinese Herbal Medicine can help you.

This therapy or modality may help with:

Abdominal Pain Acne Addiction
ADHD Allergies Anemia
Anxiety Arthritis Asthma
Athletes Foot Back Pain Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Body Odour (BO) Breathing disorders Bronchitis
Bunion Calcium Deficiency Calluses
Cancers Catarrh Childbirth
Cholesterol Issues Chronic Fatigue Chronic Pain
Circulation Problems Common cold Constipation
Cracked Heel Cystitis Dementia
Depression Dermatitis Diabetes
Diarrhoea Digestive Problems Dysmenorrhea
Ear Ache Eating Disorders Eczema
Endometriosis Erectile Dysfunction Exam Nerves
Excessive Sweating Fainting Fever
Flu Food Poisoning Food sensitivities
Gastroenteritis (stomach flu) Glandular Fever Glaucoma
Glue ear Haemorrhoids Hair Loss
Hay Fever Headaches Heart Burn
Heart disease HIV Hormone Imbalance
Hyperhidrosis Immune System Dysfunction Impetigo
Impotence Incontinence Indigestion
Infertility Influenza (Flu) Insomnia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Itching Jaundice
Joint Pain Ligament Sprain Lumbago
Menopausal symptoms Migraines Mouth ulcers
Multiple Sclerosis MS Muscle Cramps Nausea
Neck pain Neck stiffness Nosebleed (Epistaxis)
Obesity Osteoporosis Parkinsons disease
Period pain PMS PMT Pregnancy
Psoriasis Rashes Rheumatism
Runny Nose Sciatica Sexual Dysfunction
Shingles Shoulder pain Sinusitis
Sleep disorders Smoking Addiction Snoring
Sore throat Sports injuries Sprain (Ankle, Knee)
Stomach cramps Tennis Elbow Thyroid Problems
Tiredness Tonsillitis Toothache
Tremors Ulcerative colitis Urinary Problems
Urticaria Vomiting Warts
Watery Eye Weight Management

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Featured Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioners

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Chinese Herbal Medicine London

About Therapist Qualifications

Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) More Info The Acupuncture Society The Acupuncture Society More Info
The Association Of Traditional Chinese Medicine ATCM The Association Of Traditional Chinese Medicine ATCM More Info


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