Many of my patients have recently been inquiring about herbal medicine. They ask questions like, how does it work, what is it made of, will I have to take it forever, what are the side effects? I’m here to give a little more insight into herbal medicine and how it may (or may not) be beneficial for you!
Can you explain herbal medicine?
The first thing to know about herbal medicine is that it’s not like your standard over the counter medicine. While there are some brands that sell western medicine disease specific herbs (such as cold away), most Chinese herbs are based on an Eastern Medicine Diagnoses. If you go into an herbal medicine store and say “I have a headache what herbs can I take?” the person behind the counter will immediately tell you that he needs more information before he can recommend anything.
Off the top of my head I can think of 6 different types of headaches, and I know there are more. I’m not talking tension headaches, or migraines. Chinese medicine looks to get to the root of the issue to help solve the problem. You might have headaches because your deficient, or you have too much excess. Chinese medicine looks to treat the root of the issue, not the signs and symptoms you are presenting with. If it were to treat the signs and the symptoms they would keep occurring because your not getting to the root of the problem. We see this a lot with western medicine. You have a headache and you take an aspirin and it goes away for 4 hours but if nothing has changed you have to take another aspirin to get rid of the headache again.
When you come in for an herbal consult I like to ask my patients the same questions I do when they first come in for treatment. These are known as the “10 questions” and have a lot to do with how your body functions. Once I learn more about your body and notice a specific pattern I will ask to feel your pulse and look at your tongue. These are diagnostic tools that Chinese Medicine practitioners use to understand a bit more what’s going on in the body. From there I can find out exactly what kind of herbs you need.
Are you always right with herbs the first time?
Herbal medicine is not an exact science. That’s one of the great things about herbal medicine! I stick to patent formulas (formulas that are premade) because the closest herbal pharmacy to me in is in China Town in Manhattan. But even patent formulas have slight differences. If a patient feels like a formula isn’t working, or isn’t working enough its very easy to change the formula slightly to better fit their needs.
What do herbs taste like?
To put it nicely, herbs taste like dirt. Herbal medicine usually comes from plants, sometimes animals, so its usually brown in color and tastes like dirt. That’s why it’s great that they have pills so you don’t have to taste them as much!
Will I be on herbs forever?
Absolutely not! Herbs, like western
Do herbs have side effects?
Occasionally they do. I once had a patient tell me his bowels changed color when he started taking the herbs. For the most part, herbs are gentle. I only prescribe herbs that are beneficial to my patients and formulas that I don’t have to worry if they need slight tweaking. However, you must be careful if you are going to someone who knows nothing about herbs because they can prescribe something that can have serious side effects. Most common side effects are cramping, diarrhea and stomach upset.
Why do I have to take so many?
Since most herbal formulas taste like dirt, most of my patients prefer to take them in pill form. It’s a great option, but be prepared it can be overwhelming to remember to take them. Most pills require you to take them three times a day with as little as four pills at a time. Now, these pills aren’t giant, most times they are extremely tiny. But, why should you have to take so many? Because herbs are natural they take a higher does to really begin to see the effects. They don’t contain the chemicals that most medications have to enhance their effects. This is why it can sometimes take several days before you notice the effects of the herbs. The subtle changes in your body can sometimes go unnoticed until you really think back to how it you felt before you began taking them!
Interested in Herbal medicine? Call today and schedule your free consult!