Long, long before the big drug boom, herbal remedies were used to treat people’s complaints and to help them maintain wellness. In China, the recorded history of herbs goes back to 500 AD. The book, known as The Huang Di Nei Jing, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, was the first to mention Chinese Herbal Medicine and it lists 28 herbal substances and 12 prescriptions.
When we talk about Chinese Herbal Medicine, we are talking about a sophisticated form of remedies that has been around much longer than Western Pharmaceuticals, both in China and in most other parts of the world. Herbal Medicine refers to the use of plants, flowers, minerals and animal sources for healing. When I did my internship in China, I studied at a Western hospital that included an herbal pharmacy as well as one for prescription drugs. This is not unusual in China, herbal shops and remedies are quite popular. The interest in using natural ingredients is reemerging in the United States and all over the world. It makes sense, of course, to look to solutions that are closer to nature and usually have much fewer side effects than drugs. Sometimes, the herbal solutions are also less expensive. The increasing interest in herbs is only one element of a greater movement toward finding healthy alternative solutions to life’s problems.
What makes Chinese Herbal Medicine different from Western herbal medicine?
Chinese herbs are almost always prescribed as formulas of multiple herbs, not as individual herbs. There are many traditional Chinese herbal formulas. A careful balance of several different herbs is specifically tailored for each person. The formula is chosen for each person based on their symptoms and medical history. Unlike Western herbal medicine which tends to use one or two herbs to treat a specific symptom, a Chinese Herbal formula may have as many as 20 different herbs. This is why it is best to have a licensed Chinese Medicine practitioner select the best formula for you.