How is Herbal medicine used?
Herbal medicine is one of the most fascinating aspects of Chinese medicine. From the smells, tastes, and appearances of the herbs, to the subtlety and care that is involved in the formulation of every prescription, the world of herbs is rich and profound. They are also arguably the most important factor in the treatment of internal diseases. There is a reason that 70% of pharmaceuticals are derived from natural substances: They are powerful medicine!
The guiding principles we use to prescribe herbs area also used in dietary therapy in order to create an environment within the body that is continuously conducive to healing. The process of treatment becomes a kind of partnership between practitioner and patient, with subtle changes being made to prescriptions and dietary recommendations based upon the shifting experience of the patient. They can be used as a stand-alone treatment or to compliment acupuncture, massage, dietary therapy, and/or the practice of taiji and qigong.
What kinds of substances are used?
Chinese herbal medicine utilizes a wide range of natural substances to aid the body in recovering from illness and to encourage health. I use primarily raw herbs (plants, minerals, fungi, etc). This allows for each formula to be custom made for every patient at the time of their appointment. It is also offers the best potency to cost ratio, in my experience. Herbs can be prepared as decoctions, tinctures, salves, compresses, liniments, and more according to the needs of the patient.
What About quality?
I use primarily Spring Wind Herbs and NuHerbs. Both companies offer high quality Chinese herbs with some of the most extensive testing of any company on the market. All herbs I purchase (as opposed to wildcraft)are lab tested and/or organic. This means that I can be confident that the medicinals I prescribe for my patients are effective and safe.
In addition to importing quality Chinese herbs, I utilize local herbs from the Pacific Northwest, some of which I grow, and others which I wildcraft or purchase from organic and sustainable companies like Mountain Rose Herbs. The integration of Eastern and Western herbs is one of my passions. I find that local herbs are often much fresher than herbs coming from overseas, and they are also quite effective at treating the particular types of illnesses that tend to arise in the local population. By staying true to the classical approach of prescribing herbs based primarily on the flavor and nature of herbs, while also their traditional clinical applications,I can incorporate local herbs without disturbing the balance of classical, modern, and custom formulas.
Below are photos of some medicinal plants growing in the Pacific Northwest:
Top row (from left to right): Giant Trillium, Stinging Nettle, Turkey Tail, Long-tail Wild Ginger (leaf), Long-tail Wild Ginger (flower)
2nd row: Pacific Bleeding Heart, CA Bay Laurel a.k.a. Pepperwood (leaves), Pepperwood (whole tree), Redwood, Self Heal
Bottom row: Skunk Cabbage, California Poppy, Inside-Out Flower