If you have been a patient at our clinic, most likely you have been introduced to both acupuncture and herbal medicine. While we are known for putting needles in, we are not as well known for our expertise in Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine. Using natural materials, such as bark, roots, leaves, and minerals, herbs have been used for centuries to strengthen the body and remove toxins. Initially herbs were used individually, but over the centuries, herbal medicine in China has evolved into complex formulas that could be individualized to treat the differences in illness from one person to the next.
Today, herbs come in one of four main forms:
- Pills: These are the bottles you can see by the front desk. The mildest form of herbal medicine, they are easy to take and gentle, which makes them a good choice for using over the long term.
- Powders: These are powdered versions of herbal formulas that are dissolved into hot water to create a tea. A bit stronger than pills, powders can be customized and are easy to prepare.
- Tinctures: Small bottles of concentrated liquid containing herbal formulas.
- Raw: The granddaddy of all preparations, and the basis of all of the above. Raw herbs are the strongest and most customizable. They take time to prepare and generally do not taste very good, but can be extremely effective.
Today I want to focus on our beautiful and replete raw herbal pharmacy. Its strength lies in two areas, the first being that raw herbs are the strongest and most effective form of herbal medicine. Second, they are customizable to the individual. Let me share an example of this second point.
Two people enter the clinic, both with colds.
The first person has a burning sore throat, mild nasal congestion, and body aches, and to make things more complicated, also has a history of digestive troubles. The second person has more of a scratchy throat, severe sinus congestion, and a headache that won’t quit.
While both patients have colds, each cold’s presentation is a little different, and each individual is in a little different shape. We will give the same base formula to both patients, one that contains herbs with antiviral and antibiotic properties known to help with colds. But, for the first person, we could add in herbs to help her digest this medicine and those that will comfort her sore throat. The second person, meanwhile, could have a formula that would account for her headaches and sinus congestion.
Generally we use raw herbs in cases of acute conditions (colds and flus, acute digestive issues, externally for painful injures), and when we want to be as aggressive and individualized as possible (fertility and/or menstrual disorders, PMS, severe depression or anxiety).
Having a full raw herbal pharmacy is one of the unique strengths of Selby Acupuncture. We have extensive training in the use of these herbs and have seen firsthand how gentle and effective they can be. Next time you are in the clinic, ask to take a peek in our back room and see them for yourself. If you are interested in how raw herbs may be beneficial to you, give us a call and set up a consultation, or bring it up at your next appointment!
[written by Julie]