When you first come to our acupuncture clinic, you will meet with one of our health care professionals and our acupuncturists. During your first visit, we conduct a very thorough evaluation and do some preliminary diagnostics to determine your current state of health as well as your health care needs. We will also go over what you can expect from acupuncture and how we are treating you, specifically.
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People in America often times wonder how Chinese herbal formulation is done. What are Chinese herbs? Why take them? How do you take them? Why can’t I just go to the Vitamin or Health Food Store and take a mixture of supplements?
The answer to all of these questions is simple: each person, and their individual life stresses, is unique. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to getting your body healthy. Herbs and supplements are not recommended for everybody. A good practitioner will be able to accurately assess each patient’s state of health and recommend things that will benefit them specifically.
Now, on to answering the questions.
What are Chinese Herbs? How do you take them?
In Oriental Medicine, Chinese herbs have been used for thousands of years to help with many different health concerns. The earliest known literature containing herbal prescriptions, found in a tomb in China, dates back to almost 200 BC.
Modern day herbs are often a mixture of plant and animal parts, prepared in a certain way, and mixed in an exact formula to benefit the patient’s individual health needs. Not all acupuncturists are licensed to mix herbs; it requires additional education and licensing, depending on which state the acupuncturist is practicing.
Patent herbs, the type you find most commonly at an acupuncturist’s clinic, come pre-mixed in pellet/pill form. These formulas and generally more standardized and cannot be modified to fit each patient’s individual needs. Many TCM practitioners use this form of herbs because it does not require the rigorous schooling and licensing, but they are able to prescribe them to the patients because they are not physically mixing the herbs themselves, rather ordering the premixed formula from an herb company. (Read more about TCM HERE)
Chinese herbal extracts, on the other hand, are individual herbs that can be mixed specifically for each unique patient. These extracts are often made into a granular form, which the Chinese herbal practitioner then keeps in their herbal pharmacy to compose formulas specific of the patient. To take these herbs, the patient mixes them with hot water and drinks it like a tea. These formulas are very individualized and highly effective for the patient to whom it was prescribed. (This is the form of herbs we carry in our clinic.)
Why Take Chinese Herbs?
Not all patients take herbs, and on some occasions, herbs are not recommended. If herbs are prescribed, they help reinforce what the acupuncture is doing, and, in the case of patients who cannot do acupuncture, there are many benefits. Herbs can be helpful in the treatment of pain, arthritis, inflammation, digestive trouble (IBS, colitis, diverticulitis, etc.), migraines and headaches, anxiety, depression, weight loss and metabolism deficiency, PMS and menopausal symptoms (cramping, bloating, irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings), and many other health concerns.
Because they can be mixed based on each unique patient, we can address many health problems with a single formula.
Why can’t I just go to the Vitamin or Health Food Store and take a mixture of supplements?
Well, technically you can, but you possibly will end up spending more money on supplements that may not be right ones or the correct dosages for your individual needs. Chinese herbs require additional licensing for a reason: a qualified professional must assess each individual and prescribe them, much like a doctor prescribing a medication (although, with herbs, there are rarely any side effects like you may experience with medication).
As usual, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.
Nothing in this document is intended as a substitute for your doctor’s diagnosis and/or treatment. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.
Did you know that there are actually several different forms of Acupuncture that vary in their effectiveness?
Patients often ask, “I’d like to refer someone I know to an Acupuncturist where they live out-of-state, how do I help them find a good Acupuncturist?” Or “I’m going to be out of state for three months and I want to continue care while I’m away, how can I find a good Acupuncturist in that area?” When first searching for a practitioner, people often ask, “how do I know if an Acupuncturist is any good?”
First of all, do not hesitate to ask us to help you find someone in another area, as we train Acupuncturists all over the U.S. and even Canada. The basic question to ask a prospective Acupuncturist is: “Do you practice TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)?” If they say yes, their focus will be on treating symptoms, not treating the underlying cause of a symptom. Unfortunately, in 1949, Mao Tse Tung made changes to the medicine, causing it to be less effective, and called it “Traditional Chinese Medicine.” Since acupuncture did not gain popularity in the United States until the 1970s, TCM was the only form brought to the United States. Because of this, most practitioners in the U.S. use the TCM version of acupuncture.
Our research into the history of this 3,500-year-old medicine has led us here at Acupuncture and Holistic Health Associates to practice the earlier, more effective, solution-based form of acupuncture, which alleviates symptoms, more rapidly and more permanently. We DO NOT practice TCM.
“The modern day practice of acupuncture in China that has been imported to the United States is known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)… Mao [Tse Tung] established 5 universities… the system of TCM shows the influence of Western Medicine as well as the Communist society from which it springs ….There are aspects to the tradition of acupuncture that pre-date the China of Mao Tse Tung that still survive, especially in the traditions of acupuncture in Japan … in these oldest traditions of acupuncture, the most skilled practitioner was the physician who could, though a careful evaluation of the subtle physical signs and a careful evaluation… detect disease in its earliest stages before the person became gravely ill.” (source:www.acupunctureworks.organicmd/acu/acufaq.htm)
In summary, TCM practitioners treat symptoms for short-term (if any) gains, or, “Give a man a fish.” Functional-style practitioners increase the body’s function so it can heal itself; “Teach a man to fish.”
Brief Timeline of Chinese Medicine:
1500 BC: first recorded attempt at conceptualizing and treating disease with Chinese medicine; discovered written on the inside of a tortoise shell.
≈200 BC: earliest known medical text, Huangdi Neijing (English : “Yellow Emperor’s Classic”) is written.
113 BC: earliest examples of metal needles believed to be used for medical purposes found in a tomb in China.
1600 AD: Chinese Medicine evolves with a focus on longevity, vitality, virility and fertility.
1671 AD: earliest written record of acupuncture released in the western world.
1949 AD: Mao Tse Tung creates TCM, destroying volumes of material that were based on the original form of Acupuncture.
1972 AD: Journalist James Reston accompanies Richard Nixon to China and reports on Acupuncture being used as anesthetic for minor and major surgery, igniting American interest.
Currently: The vast majority of practitioners in America practice TCM without knowing it, as American interest began AFTER Mao Tse Tung bastardized the medicine. Thankfully, at least a very small percentage of Acupuncturists still utilize the ancient and most effective methods of Acupuncture.