Chinese herbs are very potent. They can be used in acute or chronic syndromes and should be prescribed by a qualified practitioner. Currently, Chinese Herbal Medicine has become acknowledged for its profound benefits in healing – supplementing and often replacing heavy use of pharmaceuticals for some individuals.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine consists of 6,000 individual substances derived from plant, animal, and mineral sources. The use of these substances can be traced back to 5,000 B.C. Since then, an incredibly rich and powerful system has medicine has been created. Generally, an herbal prescription consists of a combination of 6-12 herbs, ensuring effectiveness while minimizing side effects. The herbs are available in the form of granules, herbal teas, tablets, liquid extracts, capsules, lotions, creams, salves, or poultices.
What Is A Chinese Herbal Formula
Individual substances are rarely prescribed alone in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Western Herbal Medicine tends to use one or two herbs to treat just a specific symptom. A Chinese Herbal formula has as many as 20 different herbs. The herbs are selected to work synergistically to treat the whole person. Combing these single herbs into a single prescription creates a carefully balanced recipe specifically tailored to individual health conditions. Each herb is chosen for its own specific functions. In addition, herbs can enhance the strengths and reduce the side effects of each other. The combination of substances in a formula creates a new therapeutic agent that can treat much more effectively and completely than a single substance.
In Chinese medicine, due to our diagnostic system, we are able to assess a person’s whole constitution (the health of their whole body) and treat the root (or cause) of a health concern along with a branch (or the symptoms) of a health concern. It is in this way that we are able to treat a person’s whole body and mind, rather than just a symptom. In this way we diagnose and treat patterns not diseases.
What To Expect
Primarily I use raw herbs. These are decocted by the patients into a “tea” which is then drunk in certain portions and amounts according to their condition. This is the traditional manner of using Chinese herbs and while time-consuming to prepare provides the most effective treatment.
In long-term cases, I also provide herbal patents or tinctures. While easier to take, they do not provide the strength of raw herbal teas. They are effective in some acute conditions such as colds and flus and are easy to keep around the house for immediate use. My practice is unique in the United States, as I practice the older traditional Taoist method of cultivating and wildcrafting many of the medicinals that I use in my practice. My family manages a 200 acre certified organic herb farm up Sunshine Canyon and we grow over 100 different medicinal herbs. Our company,Divine Farmer Herbals creates medicinal extracts by harvesting fresh herbs at the height of their potency and immediately macerating them in high-quality grain alcohol. Contrary to the trend of standardization in the industry, the harvest of each season holds a special relationship to the time and place of the gathering. As practitioners, we are concerned about the lack of long-term trials in the use of solvent derived standardized extracts that have distorted the natural constituent balance of the host herb. We believe that the healing ability of our herbal extracts reside in the connecting life force of the plants as much as in the individual constituents they are composed of.
We use Biodynamic and Permaculture principles to cultivate a relationship with the land that fosters the energetic necessary to create a healing dynamic between the people and the plants. The biodynamic principles address the spiritual side of farming by observation of celestial influences and by the application of special preparations which nurture the life force of the soil. The principles of Permaculture create a social and ecological imperative which guide our land use pattern with skills to regenerate damaged landscapes and to create social structures which promote cultural sustainability.
My clinic uses herbs of the highest potency, quality, and safety; only herbs from manufacturers that are certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration of the Australian government as having Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) – a hygiene guideline even more strict than in the United States. My clinic does not use endangered species (plant or animal), and promotes wildlife conservation through the use of surrogate natural substances.
Safty of Chinese Herbs
One of the most appealing qualities of Chinese Herbal Medicine is the low risk of adverse reaction or side effects. The herb formula is balanced, and therefore has minimal side effects.
The most commonly reported adverse reaction is minor gastrointestinal upset. Modifying the herbal formula or adding herbs to strengthen the digestive system can remedy this. If you notice any side effects, please stop taking your herbs and consult me right away.In Chinese medicine, due to our diagnostic system, we are able to assess a person’s whole constitution (the health of their whole body) and treat the root (or cause) of a health concern along with a branch (or the symptoms) of a health concern. It is in this way that we are able to treat a person’s whole body and mind, rather than just a symptom. In this way we diagnose and treat patterns not diseases.
Cooking Instructions for Raw Herbs
- Use a nonmetallic pot: If you do not have a nonmetallic pot, stainless steel is ok, however, it interacts with some herbs. We recommend Corning ware or a clay pot designed for cooking herbal formulas.
- Cover the herbs with purified water and soak for 30 minutes (the longer the better).
- Bring herbs to a RAPID boil, reduce heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes (or as specified). Occasionally there will be some herbs that need to be cooked longer or added near the end.
- Pour off the liquid and save. Repeat step 3, using the same herbs. You do not need to presoak the herbs.
- Pour off the liquid and combine the liquids from the first and second batches.
- Generally you take one dose (usually one cup) in the morning and one in the evening as directed (with meals unless told otherwise). Always drink herbal tea formulas WARM or at room temperature. Never heat with a microwave.
- The taste of the herbs creates an immediate reaction in the body and is an important part of taking the formulas. However, if the taste is unbearable and it is difficult to swallow, try drinking it with a straw and keep the straw toward the back of your tongue.
- If you have any discomfort or reactions that weren’t explained to you ahead of time, stop taking the formula and call us.
- If you have never taken herbs before and especially if you have food sensitivities it is a good idea to take a small sip and wait several hours to make sure you are not allergic to any of the herbs.
As always, if you ever get symptoms that seem like an emergency, call 911.
- For Colds and Flus: simmer the formula for 20 minutes and drink warm. Cover up with blankets after drinking the formula. If you start sweating that is the body pushing the cold out. However, if the sweating is profuse or doesn’t stop within a few minutes, discontinue the formula and contact me.
- For formulas to treat sleep disorders: simmer the formula for 45 minutes. Drink at room temperature or slightly cool in the evening and then again 1 hour before bed.
I’ve had the pleasure of having on-going acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatments from Marco Lam, the purveyor of Mandala, for the past couple of months and recommend it to the highest degree. I came in with abysmal energy reserves, borderline depression, horrible digestion, and low “will power.” Somehow both abruptly and gradually all of those conditions have improved considerably–and I can see the road to even better health and wellbeing. Marco is a truly gifted healer–intuitive, fierce yet gentle, with a wealth of wisdom and tools at his disposal that surprise me nearly every visit. And he’s just a joy to be around…
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