To fully do justice to the topic
of Chinese herbal remedies would require several lengthy
volumes. In this article we offer a brief introduction...
by M. Daniels, who has been professionally writing and editing technical non-fiction articles and publications for over 3 decades.
Chinese herbal remedies form one of the more important parts of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
If someone asked me to describe the biggest difference between
western medical practices and TCM, I believe I would have to say it is
the way TCM treats each specific patient as an individual.
For example it is traditional for each
herbal medicine prescription to be a type of cocktail of many herbs
tailored to the individual patient.
A particular remedy generally uses one or two main ingredients to target a specific illness. Then many additional ingredients may be added to adjust the mixture to match the specific yin/yang condition of the patient. Somethings may be need to offset certain toxicities or side-effects of the main ingredients, others might need to have additional herbs to act as a trigger or catalyst.
This seems to me, far different from the western approach of prescribing a pre-packaged drug or remedy for a patient. In fact, one of the keys which is considered vital in determining whether or not a TCM doctor is any good is his or her ability to effectively blend and mix herbs to fit the specific needs and characteristics of a specific patient.
Chinese herbal remedies quite often incorporate ingredients from all parts of plants, such as the leaf, stem, flower, root, and also ingredients from animals and minerals. Because certain formulations call for the use of parts of endangered species, such as seahorses, rhinoceros horns, and tiger bones, for example, TCM has been criticized and blamed for the development of a black market of these ingredients supplied by poachers who hunt restricted animals. As a result, a larged number of herbal suppliers have discontinued the use of any parts from endangered animals.
Another difference between Chinese herbal remedies and other more traditional medical systems is the fact that marine products are used to a much greater degree.
Chinese remedies, like others can be administered orally or be through external application, such as the of medicated, herbal adhesive plasters applied to the skin in order to treat certain diseases, however the two most common ways to using herbs are to make a strong tea that should be simmered for about an hour or possibly more, or to make large pills which are held together with honey.
The most commonly used herbs are (in no particular order):
In summary the traditional chinese medical approach to health care is radically different from what western medicine does. Its use of herbs and naturally found remedies is a large factor make it attractive to those who prefer more natural healing methods.
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