Chinese Herbal Medicine

The training of a specialist in Chinese herbal medicine is concurrent with acupuncture training in a nationally accredited college of Oriental medicine, which leads to a Master’s degree in Oriental medicine.  The length of the program is four years.    Training involves the in-depth study of the functions and qualities of the individual herbs and progresses to the development of herbal formulas.

The beginning phases of training with herbal formulas, involves prescribing the actual raw herbs in carefully designed proportions within the formula.  As training continues, a progression into the use of pre-formulated medicine occurs (herbs in the form of pills, extracts and powders). There are several factors that are involved with the practitioner’s choice in using a pre-formulated formula versus a raw herbal formula.  The raw herbal formulas are often a bit stronger in their effect and they allow for a bit more customization.   The pre-formulated medicines on the other hand, are far easier to store.  They are also much easier to take for the patient since there is no cooking involved and the taste is not a factor (the raw herbs require cooking and the taste can be too harsh for some patients).  Most importantly, the clinical outcomes for pre-formulated formulas are excellent.  Our doctors will also customize herbal formulas as necessary using concentrated herbal powders which do not require cooking.

Chinese herbal medicine is quite powerful in its effects.  In the case of certain acute illnesses, the effect can be felt immediately (e.g. sinusitis, bronchitis, hives, colds).   When treating chronic illness or cases of deficiency (e.g. anemia, chronic fatigue etc.) the effect may take some time often ranging from 2 weeks to several months.   This aspect of Chinese herbal medicine is unique in that it allows the practitioner to determine a particular weakness in the body’s system and prescribe a form of tonic that specifically addresses that weakness.  These tonic formulas are especially valuable for those who have undergone a severe mental, emotional or physical trauma; women who are peri-menopausal or in menopause; and many men and women over forty.

It is of the utmost importance that the patient follows the dosage guidelines prescribed by their acupuncturist.  Chinese herbal medicine is very powerful but it is not of the concentrated strength of pharmaceuticals.   Therefore it is important to take the proper dosage consistently in order to gain the benefits.

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