Herbal medicine

The use of medicinal plants to heal and restore balance…

What are Chinese herbal formulas? Chinese herbal medicine is the most sophisticated herbal medicine in the world. It’s written history dates back 2,500 years. Chinese herbal medicine is based on correcting the underlying imbalance in each individual person to heal and restore balance.

Chinese herbal formulas are concerned with having a balanced selection of herbs within the formulas.

Benefits of herbal medicine: Herbal medicine, also known as phytotherapy, is used to prevent health concerns as well as treat them. They have a gentle side effect profile.  Phytotherapy uses cell signaling to affect our bodies early on in the processes of disease and imbalance, which is ultimately far less disruptive to the system. For this reason the results often last longer.

The other important aspect of herbal medicine is that the cells of your body and the plant molecules can communicate — which separates this kind of therapy from many prescription drugs.

What about western herbs? Western herbalism primarily treats disease or symptoms, such as headaches, runny nose, hot flashes, etc. Typically a single herb or group of herbs that treat the same symptom or disease for everyone. Chinese herbal medicine is based on correcting the underlying imbalance in each individual person. Thus, people with the same disease may use different formulas and people with different diseases may use the same formulas.

How to use: Most of the herbal medicine prescribed at Stillpoint is in a tablet form. We do have some tinctures, which are herbs that have been extracted in alcohol and are in a liquid form.

Generally it is required to take the herbal medicine two to three times per day.

Length of use: This is dependent on the nature and severity of the imbalance. Some formulas need to be taken for a few days to a week. Some need to be taken for many months.

A way to look at healing with herbal medicine is to think in terms of course of treatment. One course is generally considered three months. At that point it is time to reevaluate and see if treatment needs to continue and, if so, if any changes need to be made.

Another way is to consider how long you have had this issue or imbalance. A good rule of thumb is one month of treatment for every year you have been sick.

Herb/drug interaction: Herb/drug interactions do exist and is something that I take very seriously. My protocol for prescribing herbs to someone taking Western medication is to research any known interactions and the pharmokinetics of the drug before I prescribe an herbal formula. Also, I advise to always take herbs and drugs at separate times, which reduces interaction risk. I believe that the future of medicine is a combination of herbal and Western medicine and that the two can be combined safely.

Pediatric use: Herbal medicine is a wonderful option for children and babies. I carry three different lines of herbal medicine that is formulated specifically for children. They are liquids, and while they may not taste quite like candy, most young children have no problem taking them. It is easy to add some honey, molasses, or a small amount of juice to mask bitterness and can even be added to food.

I carry herbs for colds, cough, ear infections, rashes, eczema, ADD/ADHD or just calming in general, allergies, poor digestion, failure to thrive, diarrhea, constipation, upset tummy, bedwetting, teething, and difficulty sleeping.

My most recent experience with using herbs with my daughter: Seneca had been stuffy for a couple of days, then I noticed her tugging on her ear. I immediately started her on an ear infection formula. I gave it to her 4-5 times that day, then two doses before school the next day. When I picked her up later that afternoon I saw the biggest ball of wax sitting in her ear canal. It was so large that I was able to reach over and take it out with my fingers. The herbs had melted wax imbeded deep in her ear canal, which allowed it to flow to the outside of the ear canal where it then hardened. This probably happened while she slept. The next day her nose clear but there was some residual phlegm in her chest. I kept her on the herbs for a few more days until she was symptom free. Ear infection adverted!!

Self-prescribed herbs vs using a herbalist: There is so much information out in the world regarding herbs and research being done. You read about a particular herb (ginseng, great for energy!) and think, “I need that! I’ll start taking that!” Or you come across a formula that sounds great from the name, such as “Women’s Balance” to help regulate your hormones. Next thing you know, you’re taking so many pills and you’re not sure what is working, if they’re working, or if they’re possibly making you feel worse.

Safety: Dietary supplements such as Chinese herbal formulas are regulated and safer than conventual foods.