For many years, China and other Asian countries have embraced herbal medication. The West is now catching up with this trend and has started incorporating Chinese herbs and herbal formulas in treating a wide array of health conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formulas incorporate several herbs, some of which we use in our daily diets, to support and enhance the body’s natural healing abilities. Every year, more patients turn to herbal formulas as a non-pharmaceutical approach to improving their health.
If you’re new to herbal formulas, you probably have many questions and concerns. The best way to receive answers to your question is by consulting a TCM specialist or licensed acupuncturist with training in Chinese herbs and herbal formulas. After the acupuncturist diagnoses you, they’ll prescribe specific formulas or herbs tailored particularly for you, which can help alleviate many prevalent health problems.
Trinity Acupuncture offers TCM herbal formula treatment for persons seeking these services in Torrance, CA. We boast expert acupuncturists who will do all they can to obtain the best outcome after evaluating your specific case and diagnosing you. We’ll treat you with the most effective, proven methods and equip you to make daily decisions that’ll reinforce the treatments. Reach out to us for an unforgettable herbal treatment experience.
The Logic Behind TCM Herbal Formulas
Usually, western medicine views the human body more like a vehicle. It has various systems that require the right outputs and inputs. It is very logical and concrete. On the contrary, TCM does not focus on medicine and science. Instead, it is based on energy, harmony, and balance. There are two principal ideas behind Traditional Chinese Medicine:
- Qi (also called vital energy or life energy)—the idea is that qi runs throughout the body. It constantly changes and is always on the move. TCM treatments usually focus on means to maintain and promote qi flow.
- Yin and yang— yin and yang are the opposites that define qi qualities. Yin is associated with negative, feminine, cold, dark, and night while yang is associated with male, positive, warm, light, and day. The logic is that all things in life have their opposite, and balance is usually the key. For instance, medicine from your physician may cure the disease you have, but at the same time, taking too much of it is dangerous.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, these ideas are reflected in human bodies. If you balance the yin and yang of life energy, you’ll feel healthy. But when they are out of control, you’ll feel sick. Therefore, Traditional Chinese Medicine aims at creating harmony and a healthy flow of life energy.
How TCM Doctors Use Herbal Formulas
TCM specialists often use multiple substances in Traditional Chinese herbal medicine formulas to develop a balanced and synergistic effect that mirrors the all-inclusive nature of the diagnosis.
Even though there are thousands of herbal formulas for almost every possible condition, TCM doctors virtually always modify formulas to make them suitable for the patient’s specific constitution and condition, making every herbal formula highly personalized. As a result, Chinese herbal medicinal formulas are prepared in several different ways, including:
- Liniments, plasters, compresses, and salves— these are for external use. Herbal therapy, coming after dietary therapy, is possibly the most commonly used Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment formula. TCM usually depends on herbal therapies for treating and preventing diseases and improving a person’s health.
- Syrups —syrups are soothing medications for sore throat and coughs. They’re a suitable way of administering herbal formulas to children.
- Chinese Patent Formulas— these are premade herbal formulas in tablet or pill form. They are possibly the most commonly used form of Traditional Chinese Medicine outside China.
- Chinese herbal decoctions— Chinese herbal decoctions are the most ancient method to prepare herbal formulas. They may involve prolonged preparation, and the result will be concoctions notorious for their strong aroma and taste. Thus, decoctions aren’t as widely utilized or popular in western countries.
- Herbal powders— herbal powders can be mixed with hot water to make tea. It‘s highly convenient to make and use these, and they aren’t as sharp-tasting as traditional decoctions.
Several different therapeutic techniques are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the most popularly used being acupuncture. Because TCM emphasizes personalized treatment, the healing process varies extensively from one patient to another. Therapeutic methods often include:
- Moxibustion— moxibustion is a technique that entails burning dried herbs close to the skin to warm the area over acupuncture points.
- Mediation— this is a way of sitting quietly to calm your mind.
- Herbal medicine— capsules, powders, and teas made mainly from plants may be recommended.
- Cupping— cupping is therapy in which heated cups are placed on the skin, forming suction and stimulating the energy flow.
- Acupuncture—Acupuncture involves fine needles being gently placed in the skin. Although acupuncture’s roots are traced back to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s used under western treatment for different health concerns.
- Tai chi and qi gong— exercises that involve slow movements, focusing on your breath.
- Nutrition and diet— foods are believed to have cooling/warming properties and have specific healing properties.
- Acupressure— finger pressure is applied over acupuncture points and meridians.
- Tuina— a form of bodywork that combines acupressure and massage.
What to Expect at a TCM Treatment Appointment
Your doctor will assess your general health by reviewing your health history and performing a physical examination and pulse and tongue evaluation. The exam identifies any qi blockages or imbalances. If the doctor detects an imbalance in any of TCM’s organ systems, this does not imply that you have a physical illness in that organ.
For example, the liver helps regulate smooth qi flow. If you have a liver qi stagnation, the energy is said to be blocked, leading to a wiry pulse, indigestion, bitter taste in your mouth, depression, anger, or irritability. On the other hand, a kidney yin deficiency is linked to dry mouth, tinnitus, forgetfulness, and night sweats.
How to Use TCM Herbal Formulas and Their Health Benefits
Under your licensed herbalist or acupuncturist’s guidance, take your TCM formulas and herbs in tablet, granule, or capsule form, like you would ordinary drugs and in quantities prescribed for you. TCM formulas and herbs can be used to address a wide array of health conditions, including:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Menopause symptoms
- High blood pressure
- Fertility and PMS
- Eczema, psoriasis, acne, hives, dull complexion, and other skin conditions
- Back and joint pain
- Arthritis (for instance, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Flu and cold-related symptoms such as sore throat, running nose, congestion, cough
- Digestive health
- Thyroid-related problems
- Strengthening the immune system
Even though treatment with modern medicine is dependent on the patient’s diagnosis, in TCM, the treatment depends on diagnosing a patient’s imbalance. For instance, it may be difficult for you to sleep if you have insomnia due to an imbalance like blood deficiency, liver yang rising, or kidney yin deficiency.
Candidates for TCM Herbal Formulas
It is a personal decision to use Traditional Chinese Medicine. Many people use it for different reasons, from lowering stress to treating carpal tunnel syndrome or any of the conditions mentioned above. At times, patients use it alongside western medication. It may be an ideal option for you if you:
- Want to prevent an illness
- Have tried western medication but were unsuccessful
- Need to cure side effects of drugs
- Have several different symptoms that don’t have a clear cause
Who Shouldn’t Use TCM Herbal Formulas?
Generally, doctors advise that you do not use TCM to entirely replace western medicine, particularly if you’re suffering from a severe condition such as liver disease or cancer. They also urge that you should exercise caution when using TCM herbal formulas if you are:
- Treating a minor
- Taking other drugs as well
- Scheduled for a surgical procedure (some herbs may prevent medication used during these procedures from working or cause bleeding problems)
- Breastfeeding or pregnant
Herbs Used in TCM Herbal Formulas
Instead of prescribing specific herbs, TCM practitioners usually combine several different herbs in formulations selected based on the individual needs of the patient undergoing treatment. As we mentioned, these formulas can be administered in powders, tinctures, capsules, or teas. Herbs prevalently used in Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal formulas include:
- Gotu Kola
- Red yeast rice
- Ginkgo biloba
- Jujube dates
- Licorice root
- Goji berries
You may already be using these herbs in your wellness routine and to make meals in your kitchen. However, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the herbs, used in formulas or alone, are particularly grown and processed to make the most out of their usefulness to the body’s function.
For example, you may be using ginger to enhance the taste of your meals. But in TCM, ginger helps stop nausea, cold symptoms, and vomiting. Also, recent studies show that it has anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, and anti-oxidation effects.
Similarly, naturally, licorice root is merely the plant’s root used to make beverages and candles. However, in TCM, it helps relieve sore throat, chronic pain, spasms, and cough. It also has antitumor and anti-viral properties. However, it’s recommended that you avoid it if you have hypertension and other specific health conditions, which is one reason you must visit a qualified TCM specialist to prescribe the right herbal formulas for you.
Fruits are essential for a healthy diet. Most people prepare these fruits in soups due to their gastrointestinal health benefits and positive effect on a person’s immune system. However, certain fruits like jujube dates are also helpful in promoting wellness and healing.
Whereas you may face various risks when buying dietary supplements (like the supplements being contaminated with other substances) because of lack of regulation, the risks may increase with herbal products that have been manufactured abroad, especially those containing different herbs.
Other Ingredients Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbal Formulas
Most TCM herbal formulas are manufactured using plant-based ingredients. The ingredients are a combination of leaves, branches, roots, flowers, herbs, and mushrooms, and there’s sufficient scientific and case study proof supporting their intended application in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
As seen above, many herbs are used to manufacture TCM herbal formulas. Therefore, it would be hard to find the exact herbs to help alleviate what you are experiencing by yourself. Additionally, formulas can do much for your well-being than one herb alone. Thus, speaking with an experienced and knowledgeable specialist highly trained in TCM is the best step towards curing your condition.
The Difference between Herbal Formulas and Herbs
Herbal formulas come with many benefits compared to herbs. Preparing and using a combination of herbs often improves their benefits and overall effects. Herbal formulas are made after several years of observing the effect and cause and taking note of the advantages of various herb combinations when administered together. Doctors consider several factors when determining what formula they will prescribe for what patient. They include a patient’s unique lifestyle, constitution, patterns of symptoms, and diet. As symptoms change, so does the herbal formula prescribed.
You may receive multiple herbal formula prescriptions based on your circumstances. Like any other prescribed medication, take your herbal formula as your practitioner will direct you.
How Safe Are TCM Herbal Formulas
TCM herbal formulas are safe if you visit a specialist who knows what they are doing for treatment. This is especially the case for moxibustion, cupping, tai chi, and acupuncture. However, herbs are trickier. They do not pass through the same Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process as drugs. This means there is no extensive research on them, and it can be hard to know what is in them. Additionally, herbs may impact other medications you are taking or have side effects. For these reasons, it is worth repeating that you must go to a person who understands their practice.
Contact a Qualified Traditional Chinese Medicine Near Me
Traditional Chinese Medicine may provide a unique perspective into lifestyle factors that influence your overall health. So far, there are a few quality clinical trials that show that TCM can cure diseases. Therefore it’s critical not to self-treat using herbal formulas or substituting them with standard care. If you are considering trying treatment with herbal formulas, consult with an expert specialist to know whether you are the right candidate and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the treatment.
If you’re in Torrance and wish to consult an herbal formula expert, or wish to be treated there, contact Trinity Acupuncture at 310-371-1777, and we’ll be glad to help. We provide customized formulas that can treat even the more complex cases per the patient’s needs. And most importantly, we boast highly qualified, licensed acupuncturists who will ensure you receive the best possible results for your treatment. Call us right away, and we will accord you the help you deserve.