Herbal Medicine 101

At Pacific College Of Health & Science, we primarily study the art of Acupuncture, but spend over 300 credit hours learning Chinese Herbology as well. Herbal therapy is important in traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used for centuries in China, where herbs are considered fundamental therapy for many acute and chronic conditions.

Pacific College’s on-site clinic has a herbal pharmacy that contains hundreds of raw individual herbs, as well as herbal extract powders and formulas. Herbal formulas are discussed with each patient, explaining the type of formula that would be appropriate and how it will improve the patient’s condition.

“Herbs?” “What does that mean?” “Like, weed?” “How could that help my ____?” Patients have many questions regarding herbal formulas, and as they should. Everyone has the right to fully understand any medication that they are taking, its benefits, as well as potential side effects. So what are Chinese herbal formulas, and what kinds of conditions can they treat?

The Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica is a text which dates back to 1st century AD, describes 365 individual herbs, and details how plants have been used therapeutically throughout the ages. The phrase “materia medica” comes from Latin and literally means “healing materials.” This book is pretty much the Bible of Herbal Medicine, and is used by herbalists to learn the categories, properties, functions, and contraindications of individual herbs.

So what exactly qualifies as an herb? In Chinese Medicine, a “herb” is generally a plant, root, stem, leaf, flower, mineral, shell, bark, or seed. Herbs can also be parts of an animal, for example: deer antler or cicadoidea skin. All herbs are found in nature, or wildlife, and provided for us from Mother Nature.

Five individual herbs, commonly used in many formulas.

These individual herbs are used synergistically, to achieve different therapeutic results. Herbal formulas consist of two to twenty or more herbs, and can be ingested in several different ways.

In traditional raw herbal formulas, herbs are boiled, steeped and taken as a hot tea. If the patient does not wish to, or does not have time to boil and decoct their formula, there are other options. Herbal granules, or extract powders, can be taken with hot water. These powders can be in capsules as well, and taken orally as pills. Other options include herbal tinctures, or topical lineaments.

Herbal formulas are used to treat:

  • Common colds & flu
  • Allergies
  • Sore throat
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Acne & skin disorders
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Women’s health issues
  • Digestive issues
  • Chronic pain
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Migraines

It has been written in ancient Chinese text that “Acupuncture clears the channels; Herbs fill the channels.” Together, Acupuncture and herbal formulas work synergistically to improve many conditions. If you have any questions about herbal formulas or would like any more depth information, leave a comment or feel free to email me 🙂

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