Chinese Herbal Medicine, An Introduction

In this article, I’d like to introduce you to Chinese herbal medicine and hopefully address any apprehensions or questions you may have about taking medicine in this form. Like many of you, I grew up in Western culture and was quite used to taking Advil, aspirin or Tylenol for pain and fever. I take cough syrup like Robitussin for nose congestion and for coughing. I would take antihistamines like Claritin or Reactine for allergies.

For thousands of years, human beings throughout the world have been utilizing substances found in nature to heal the sick and prevent the onset of many illnesses and this tradition has continued unbroken within Asia. Herbal medicine is actually one of the medicines practiced by some of the top hospitals in China to this day.

Chinese herbal medicine can be prescribed either as a standalone treatment or combined with other therapies such as acupuncture in Bellmore. When prescribed by a licensed professional trained in Chinese medicine, it is both safe and effective.

So what does Chinese herbal medicine look like?

The majority of herbal substances are compounds from roots, trees, seeds, fruits, grains, minerals fungi and some animal products. When prescribing an herbal formula, a person’s dietary restrictions and ethical requests are always considered. The use of endangered animal products or heavy metals is not part of modern Chinese medicine.

Most of the commonly used medicinal herbs are actually native to Asia and must be imported. Many people ask me if they can be grown in North America or other parts of the world. In many cases, that’s not actually possible. I often give the example of wine. When you have a wine producing grape from one region and grow it in another region, the soil, climate and other attributes will actually change the grapes and will taste different.

Similar to Chinese herbs, there are different properties that are brought out by different growing conditions. The herb ginseng is an excellent example of this. The same plant is grown in Korea, China, North America and Japan and each of these regions has a different attribute to it. In Korea, it’s more of a hot natured herb or as when it’s grown in North America, it has more of a cooling nature.

How is Chinese medicine different from Western medicine?

Actually, many pharmaceutical drugs have been derived from or inspired by chemicals discovered in plants. In fact, the pain relieving and fever reducing qualities of aspirin was derived from the leaves and bark of the white willow. And as with the creation of aspirin, the approach of Western medicine is more geared towards isolating or extracting and then synthetically reproducing the active compounds.

Therefore, drugs are directed at specific actions and the person may need to take a multiple of drugs to address all his concerns. Whereas with Chinese medicine, the approach is to combine several herbs together that will function synergistically to address the mechanism causing the ailment to relieve the presenting symptoms and balance any potential side effects that may result from anyone of the single herbs.

So, although we use natural substances, it is still medicine and should be prescribed safely. What is beneficial for one person may not work for everybody.

How is Chinese herbal medicine prescribed?

Chinese herbal medicine can be prescribed in several different formats, depending on the individual and also what’s going to work for compliancy. The most popular and most traditional way is to boil the herbs from their raw or bulk form, and they are boiled down to decoct them into a tea. This tea is usually taken once or twice a day.

Another form is granules. Granules have the benefit of raw herbs with the convenience of just adding hot water to mix them into a tea. And finally, for those that don’t like to drink the herbs, you can have them prepared in tablets or capsules. Depending on what specific health concern we are working on, herbal medicine is often taken once or twice a day for a period of weeks or several months.

The prescription will be modified along the way to address the individual and how their symptoms and their constitution is changing along the course of treatment. The goal of treatment is to bring the body back into balance so the medicine is no longer needed and the symptoms do not return. My particular clinical focus is on reproductive health and fertility.

I use Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of fertility concerns for both men and women, menstrual irregularities, pain and PMS, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, recurrent pregnancy loss, hormonal balance and stress management.

Body Gua Sha For Healing Pain And Inflammation In The Body

Body Gua Sha is an ancient Chinese healing technique that’s used to decrease pain and inflammation in the body. The technique is a little bit different than facial Gua Sha, which emphasizes more on the health of the skin. In this article, we’re going to run through all the basics of body Gua Sha as it is used today.

Body Gua Sha is done using Gua Sha tools such as a spoon, coin or a tool made out of jade stone. There are different shapes and sizes of Gua Sha tools that you can use to treat different areas of the body. It’s used in order to increase the microcirculation in the area that it scraped on. It’s also great for getting out knots and for any kind of inflammation in the body, and with the decrease in inflammation, there’s also a decrease in pain, aching and stagnation in the body.

There are a few other things that body Gua Sha in Tarzana can also treat, depending on the area that it is done on. It can be used to treat the common cold, headaches and migraines and it also helps with hormonal imbalances as well. The technique that’s usually used for body Gua Sha is quite different from that used in facial Gua Sha.

For body Gua Sha treatment, you want to apply enough pressure on the area of concern so you can get out any of the knots, and eliminate stagnation. A lot of times, when you’re applying that much pressure, you’ll see the appearance of some red marks where you’re doing the body Gua Sha. This is very normal.

A lot of first-time people who opt for body Gua Sha treatment are a little surprised by the redness of these marks, but really they are just surfacing because of the Gua Sha motion that is breaking little capillaries on top of the skin. These marks usually heals within 3 to 4 days. After the first few days, it’s not as well anymore and you really feel very relaxed and your muscles feel a lot looser after the treatment.

To begin treatment, the patient will need to sit down in the practitioner will applying a bit of Gua Sha oil to the area that’s going to be treated. For neck pain or any cold symptoms or if there’s a slight cough that has begun or for any muscle tension, the neck and upper shoulders are the common areas that will be treated by the practitioner.

When the practitioner is gliding the scraping tool along the patient’s neck, he applies a certain amount of pressure to release the stagnation. Some of the redness will start to appear and those are signs of blood and Chi stagnation in that area of treatment. The appearance of the redness will vary depending on the severity and length of the stagnation.

Although the marks may look intimidating to many people who haven’t tried Gua Sha, it’s not actually that intimidating. Most patients tell us that it’s very comfortable and feels like a deep tissue massage. While this treatment modalities is really amazing for athletes, or those suffering from chronic acute pain or aches, it should be done with caution or avoided in people who are taking blood thinners, have bleeding disorders, menstruating or in pregnant women, especially when it’s done in their lower abdomen. It should also not be done on any areas of the body that have an open wound or an injury.