Chinese medicines are made from a variety of ingredients including roots, bark, leaves and flowers. These patented formulations may be used to treat many health conditions as they are constructed to correct specific imbalances in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used for over 5,000 years.
In the West, medicine is an analytical science, dissecting things until causal links are made. In Chinese medicine, the opposite occurs. Signs and symptoms are pieced together until a picture of the whole person appears. Treatment therefore is centered on the person rather than on the disease. In traditional Chinese medicine many factors and properties are considered in the diagnoses. For instance, an individual’s vital force (also known as Qi) may be weak, leading to a susceptibility to attack from external pathogens. The flow of blood, the functioning of specific organs, temperature, taste and weather all play a role. These properties can also be treated, stimulated or tonifyed by particular herbs and substances. This concept of using herbs to correct particular functions in the body has been developed over generations.
In Chinese medicine, there are 5 external disease factors that can invade the body and effect organ function: wind, cold, heat, dryness and dampness. The therapeutic capabilities of a substance can be described by linking its taste and temperatures to disease causing factors. For example, a warm substance can be used for an externally contracted cold or a cool substance for heat. By understanding the properties of a substance, we can treat the cause of the organ imbalance. In addition, 5 internal disease factors directly correspond to organ pathology. Anxiety (worry), fear (fright), grief, joy (or absence of joy) and anger (depression) can impact the function of an organ and lead to a clinical presentation. Stress experienced on a daily basis cause excessive activity of the liver to overact on the stomach/spleen contributing to loose stools.
Knowing which herb will work toward rebalancing the organs and emotions is critical. In fact, the effect that the substance has on the organ will depend on many factors including taste. A sweet herb tonifies the Spleen, an organ that prefers sweet, but the same herb may drain an organ with an aversion to this quality like the Heart. Herbs also have a directional tendency to rise, fall, float or sink. This is indicative of the situations in which it can be used effectively. Substances that rise move upward and outward, promoting sweating and dispersing cold, while substances that fall move downward redirecting rebellious Qi (e.g. vomiting) or preventing abnormal loss of fluids. The many therapeutic uses and the versatility of the herbs and substances can be combined to enhance their qualities, restore the body and jump start the patient’s own healing powers.
At Nature Medicine, many of the herbs we use are commercially prepared patents that are packaged in China. These products offer, convenient and affordable treatment alternatives and are largely free of any side effects.
- Bensky & Gamble. Chinese Herbal Medicine. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Eastland Press.
- Thie & Thie. Touch for Health; A Practical Guide to Natural Health with Acupressure Touch. Devorss Publications.