According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Chinese herbal medicine is a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine … it has been used for centuries in China, where herbs are considered fundamental therapy for many acute and chronic conditions.” (2) Chinese herbal therapy has its roots in a traditional medicinal text called “Materia Medica.” Thousands of different herbs, minerals, teas, tinctures and other extracts are listed in this text and utilized by trained herbalists depending on a patient’s specific symptoms.
Who can benefit most from Chinese herbal medicines? (2)
Chinese herbs focus on helping correct dysfunction of certain organs and unhealthy body patterns. The goal of herbal therapy is to bring the body back into a state of homeostasis (balance) and restore proper energy (also called Qi).
Patients with many different symptoms can be treated with herbs, including those with frequent colds or the flu, fatigue, chronic respiratory issues, infertility, allergies, chronic pain, anxiety or depression, trouble sleeping, menopausal symptoms and even people recovering from cancer or chemotherapy.
Some scenarios that make a patient a good candidate for herbal therapy include having more than one unexplained symptom, feeling fatigued on top of having other symptoms, not responding well to medications or experiencing side effects, feeling anxious or depressed, in addition to having other symptoms.
Common Chinese herbal medicines include astragalus root, reishi mushroom, goji berry, ginkgo biloba, ginseng and many others.
Here’s what you can expect during a Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal session: Following an exam with the herbalist, customized herbs (almost always more than one) are recommended. Sometimes herbs are used as a complement to another treatment, such as acupuncture. Chinese herbal therapy is usually not covered by insurance, but in some cases a referral from a physician can help lower the cost. Oftentimes an herbalist works closely with a physician to manage a patient’s treatment, especially if the herbal therapy can interact with the patient’s prescription medications.