There are a wide variety of traditional Chinese herbs that can be helpful for many conditions. Our practitioners may suggest using a tincture or tea pills of certain herbs, or they might create a custom mix of herbs that are dried and boiled down to be consumed as a soup to treat your specific needs. These traditional herbal remedies complement acupuncture and other treatments, and each herbal remedy will be specialized to your needs.
TCM: A Customizable Herbal Therapy
Herbal therapy, next to dietary therapy, is perhaps the most widely used Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment modality. TCM relies on herbal therapies both for the treatment of illness and in the optimization of health and prevention of disease. There are 5,767 medicinal substances currently in use, including plant, animal, and mineral substances. The materia medica (book on TCM medicinal substances) includes information on the traditional uses, dosages, and contraindications for each substance, as well as any available information on drug interactions, and any conventional medical research that has been published.
Herbal Treatment with Naturna
At Naturna, we custom-mix tinctures specifically to fit your health needs. These tinctures are usually in a concentrated form, so you might take a few drops each day under the tongue or mixed into a beverage. Our practitioners most often use two or more substances in Chinese medicinal formulations to create a balanced, synergistic effect that reflects the holistic nature of the diagnosis.
The Magic is in the Formula
Although there are literally thousands of traditional herbal formulas for just about every condition imaginable, a formula is modified to suit the subtle nuances of the condition and constitution of the patient, making each formulation highly individualized. Most Chinese herbal remedies are are completely non-toxic and safe for most people to take every day, and they can be taken long-term. In treatment, however, the herbs are rarely taken alone or for long periods of time, as each herb has its own unique properties and each property can be enhanced or tempered in tandem with other herbs. For example, astragalus (or huang qi) has properties in TCM as being sweet and slightly warm. It is often combined with ginseng to improve appetite and fight fatigue. Combining astragalus with cinnamon (or gui zhi), however, helps muscular pain due to obstruction of Qi or blood. While adaptogens are non-toxic, there still can be adverse effects if taken for too long or if the herb does not fit your unique constitution. Again using astragalus as an example, high doses can be problematic for someone with intense internal heat since the herb is slightly warming. Some herbs can also negatively interact with prescription medications, which is why our practitioners take the time to get to know you before they suggest any herbal remedies, as they need to be aware of any medications you are taking as well as understand your body’s needs entirely. To derive the optimal benefit from any herbs, your combination of herbs should align with your own specific constitution and symptoms. This is why anyone who is interested in herbal therapy should never self-prescribe herbs, but seek the advice of trained TCM or herbalism professionals like our practitioners at Naturna. Additionally, the specific herbal formula used should change over time as your symptoms and body changes. This is why we offer small, one-ounce bottles of tinctures so that you don’t end up with large amount of leftover tincture that is no longer a good fit for your needs. Herbal remedies are not the primary treatment modality used here at Naturna, but are often used to complement the acupuncture sessions.
The Basic Natural Flavor of Herbal Therapy
Herbal treatments are based in the TCM philosophies of the Four Natures and the Five Flavors. The Four Natures are the heat properties of use herb, and each herb is classified as cold, hot, cool, or warm. Each condition or ailment of the body and mind is association with an excess or lack of one of these properties, which is how your practitioner chooses which herbs to use. Excess heat, for example, can be caused by stress, illness, poor diet, and a variety of other etiologies, which can all be helped by consuming cooling herbs. The Five Flavors are another component to each herb, and are used to classify the “taste” of each herb. This does not refer to how to herb will taste when consumed, but rather the action that it takes in the body. The five flavors of are pungent, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. The various flavors have different actions. Pungent flavors disperse and promoting circulation of qi and blood. Sweet flavors have a nourishing, harmonizing, and moistening action. Sour flavors have absorbing, consolidating, and astringent actions. Bitter flavors have the action of drying or resolving dampness, purging, and pushing down. Salty flavors have the effect of softening hard nodes or masses and promoting bowel movement. These are all examples of how each herbs Five Flavors property is considered when creating a custom tincture, as each person’s body needs different actions and levels of those actions in order to best treat their body’s needs.