What is Herbal Medicine?

Chinese herbal medicine is an essential part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  For centuries, the Chinese have used the natural properties in herbal supplements to treat disease. Over time it was discovered that a formula combining different herbs was more effective than using them individually,  and this tradition of combining herbs led to the potential of fewer side effects and greater efficacy. Over the years, formulas have been tried and tested; toxic herbs are no longer used, adverse effects have been discovered and recorded, and only the most effective and safe formulas remain in use. Different herbs in a herbal formula designed to the specific condition of a patient have been found to have synergistic effects in order. By using these prescribed herbs at home, you will be increasing the effectiveness of treatments performed in the clinic. Individualized formulations are a critical and effective part to successful treatment. 

When used properly, herbal medicine is virtually free of side effects.

How does Herbal Medicine Work?

Similar to pharmaceutical medications, the active compounds in herbs cause physiologic changes. Although many pharmaceuticals are derived from plant origin often only one active ingredient is extracted and used as a drug in extremely high dosages, even though the original herb may have had hundreds of active ingredients. Herbal formulas utilize the whole herb, thus incorporating all of its active ingredients and maximizing its effects.  In Chinese medicine each treatment is tailored to the individual and based upon a traditional diagnosis which is often termed as a pattern.  Scientists have done so many studies on the chemical compounds and pharmacological effects of Chinese herbs. The chemical compounds and pharmacological effects of most Chinese herbs currently used in Oriental Medical practice are known although they do not explain all the traditional uses of herbs.

Is Herbal Medicine Safe?

Herbal Medicines are safe when used under the supervision of a competent practitioner. Herbs have been used in almost all cultures for centuries to fight illness and promote health.   Over the years, formulas have been tried and tested; adverse effects have been discovered and recorded, and only the most effective and safe formulas remain in use. Unfortunately, several herbs have been recently banned not because of their adverse effects when used for their intended purpose, but because of serious adverse effects when they were misused. In other cases, some herbs have been banned because of newly discovered toxicities. For example herbs that contain aristolochic acid have been are banned in USA.  No practitioner in this country would use any product containing aristolochic acid.

In our clinci, we only work with the best Chinese herbal medicine suppliers in this country who use unsulphured, pesticide free, high-grade Chinese herbs to make herbal products with manufacturing controls that meet recognized current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) set forth by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Are There any Herbs and Drug Interactions?

It is not unusual for a patient to seek herbal treatments while taking several prescription medications. According to JAMA, an estimated 15 million adults in the United States (representing 18.4 % of all prescription pharmaceutical users) took prescription drugs concurrently with herbal remedies and/or vitamins in 1997. Simultaneous taking of herbs and prescription medications may cause herb-drug interactions. Many interactions are mild and are not clinically significant, while some interactions may be serious.

Two types of interactions are classified pharmacokinetic interactions and pharmacodynamic interactions. Pharmacokinetic interaction refers to the fluctuation in bioavailability (drug concentration in the blood) of herb-drug molecules in the body as a result of changes in absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. Pharmacodynamic interactions refer to the drug’s effect as a result of synergistic or antagonistic interactions between herb/drug molecules.

In our clinic we use a comprehensive database to check all possible herb-drug interactions. After an herbal product is selected, we will check any possible interaction between the selected herbal product and your medications. When a possible interaction was found, we may adjust herbal products or we may have to treat you with other modalities such as acupuncture, tui na, cupping, etc.

Is Herbal Medicine Safe for Children?

Children that are given proper herbal medicines respond exceptionally well, such as for cold, ear infection and digestive problems. Considering the less matured drug metabolism system in child’s body we only give herbal product to children 3 years or older when necessary.

References

Acupuncture. Natural Standard Database Web site: www.naturalstandard.com

Kan Herb Company Website: http://www.kanherb.com/cons_ak_herbswork.asp