Herbal Therapy

What Is Chinese Herbal Therapy?

Herbal therapy has served medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Herbs come from many sources including roots, twigs, branches, seeds, leaves, flowers, shells, bugs, and animals. Herbs come in the form of a tea, a capsule, or in granules (Granules are placed in hot water to drink as tea) and are used as medicine for many ailments. Herbs have wonderful benefits and can be very helpful in the healing process.

Chinese Herbal HealthTraditionally, raw herbs were harvested and boiled as tea to drink. Today, herbs are harvested, ground down into a powder, and put into gelatin capsules. While the raw tea form of herbal medicine is still available, it is not always practical in today’s modern world. Many people enjoy consuming their herbs as a tea, but boiling the herbs is not always convenient. To save time, many people open the herb capsules and dump them into a cup of hot water. This timesaving trick has the same effect and is perfect if you are on the go or making tea at the office. Take care NOT to add any sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, sugar, or artificial sugar substitutes, as these can change the medicinal properties of the herbs in your formula.

Herbs are categorized into “grades” depending on their quality and the region they come from. Regions, continents, and countries produce similar, yet different varieties of herbs that create variations in the way the herb metabolizes and works within your body. For example, ginseng from Korea is much hotter, spicier, and more potent than ginseng from China. One of the most critical components of herbal medicine is ensuring your herbs and herbal prescriptions are purchased at a licensed herbalist or a reputable herb company.

Many vitamin stores will sell herbs and herbal blends, but only a certified herbalist can actually prescribe you the herbs that fit your needs perfectly. Herbs are powerful medicine and should be treated as such. It is important to inform your doctor of any and all herbal supplements you are taking, and it is even MORE important to tell your acupuncturist. In order to do what is best and safest for your health and body, only get your herbs from a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. This ensures that you get the best of what nature has to offer you!

Can the herbal remedies interact with my medications?

Yes! Although we often think of ‘herbal’ remedies as natural, these substances can interact with your medications. Before starting any treatment, you should ALWAYS inform your doctor of all medications you take—even if they are taken as needed—as well as any vitamins and the food and beverages you consume. In the case of herbal remedies, your acupuncturist will know which herbs you can safely consume in combination with your regular medications, vitamins, and diet. Your acupuncturist, however, is not the only doctor you should inform of your health history. When you make all of your doctors aware of who you are seeing, the medications you are taking, and the treatments you are receiving, you have positioned yourself for the best health care available. Keeping your doctors informed is often the sole responsibility of the patient, but at our clinic, Dr. Bennett will often hold a team meeting with your other doctors to ensure you are receiving the best all-around treatment possible.

Are herbs regulated in the US?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. The majority of herbal teas for medical purposes and herbal pills are imported from countries such as China, Korea, and Taiwan. These countries do not have the same consumer regulations as we do here in the US. For this reason, it is not uncommon to find high levels of toxins like lead in imported products, foods, and herbs. It is advisable to only purchase American-made products. If you are concerned about the herbal products you are purchasing, consider asking your acupuncturist where he or she purchases herbs. There are plenty of local herb pharmacies that enforce quality control policies during manufacturing and ensure the removal of potentially hazardous material prior to selling their product.