Herbal Remedies and Supplements
Herbal medicine is itself a powerful method of healing. Western drugs often control symptoms, but do not alter the disease process (antibiotics eliminate bacteria but do not improve a person’s resistance to infection; diuretics rid excess fluid without improving kidney function). Chinese herbs treat the underlying condition as defined by traditional diagnosis, and rarely cause unwanted side-effects.
Just as soil becomes depleted through overuse, so the Qi, Moisture, and Blood are eroded by overwork, emotional tension, mental strain, too much or too little exercise, and inadequate diet or rest, impairing the capacity of the organ Networks to do their jobs.
How Herbs Work
Since fatigue results from a lack of Qi, herbs that nourish the Qi have an energizing effect. Since blurry vision, restless sleep, and irritability result from depleted Blood, Blood-enriching herbs improve vision, sleep, and equanimity. Since dry skin and dehydration arise from insufficient Moisture, herbs that replenish it soften the skin and relieve an otherwise unquenchable thirst.
Herbs assist the Organ Networks in the performance of their tasks. Particular herbs enhance the capacity of the Heart to propel the blood and soothe the mind, the Spleen to manage digestion and fluid equilibrium, the Lung to handle respiration and the body’s defenses, the Liver to maintain resilient emotions and flexible limbs, and the Kidney to sustain sexual and regenerative power. Some herbal formulas address ailments such as colds, allergies, inflammations, or cramps with dramatic and immediate results, while others fortify body reserves over time.
Formulas Combine Benefits
Chinese herbs are usually combined in Formulas to enhance their individual properties and actions. Symptoms and signs are matched with therapeutic effects, reflecting the particular conditions and needs of each patient. Tonic Formulas restore eroded body resources; regulating formulas decongest the Qi, Moisture, and Blood, relieving discomfort; and purging formulas eliminate adverse climates, inviting clear weather.
Formulas are available in a variety of forms: crude herbs to be boiled into tea, liquid bottled extracts, ground herbs packed in pills, and powders. Herbs, more like foods than drugs, can supplement our diet and fortify our constitution as well as prevent or remedy ailments. Sometimes long-term use of herbs is desirable whereas extended use of pharmaceuticals would not be healthy.
How Western And Chinese Herbs Differ
Because Chinese medicine views people as ecosystems in miniature, it seeks to improve our capacity to balance and renew our resources. Chinese medicine can minimize the erosion of our soil by enriching it, maximize the flow of nutrients by increasing circulation, and help prevent blockages that obstruct movement.
Often Western Medicine intervenes only after crises arise, whereas Chinese medicine anticipates problems by sustaining our interior landscape. By correcting depletion and stagnation at earlier stages, greater problems later on are avoided.
Sometimes Western medicine has nothing to offer for nagging chronic complaints that Chinese medicine can help. The two are not a substitute for each other. They are often complementary. Whereas Western medicine may heroically rescue us, Chinese medicine can protect and preserve our health day to day.