Herbal Medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a type of holistic, natural health care system that dates back at least 3,000 years.
TCM is holistic and natural because it stimulates the body’s own healing mechanisms and takes into account all aspects of a patient’s life, rather than just several obvious signs or symptoms.
TCM practitioners view the body as a complex network of interconnected parts (part of a larger concept known as Qi), rather than separate systems or organs.
Herbal medicine blurs the line between foods and medicines – a line that, in many cultures, was never drawn in the first place.
Using herbs and spices that have disease-preventive effects in foods is one of the best ways to take advantage of their healing power. For example, it appears that the daily use of the spice turmeric in curry dishes is one reason elderly people in India have one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world.
Holistic Alternatives includes herbal medicine as one of our healing modalities.
Our treatments aim to correct imbalances in the body and primarily work in three major ways:
- Addressing a patient’s external factors and environment.
- Helping patients relate to their internal emotions in a healthier way, including managing stress.
- Improving a patient’s lifestyle factors, including diet and exercise routine.
Organs that are especially focused on during TCM treatments include the kidneys, heart, spleen, liver, lung, gallbladder, small intestine and large intestine. Depending on the specific type, the benefits of TCM therapies range considerably.
Chinese Herbal Medicines
Herbal medicine is a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been used for centuries in China, where herbs are considered a fundamental therapy for many acute and chronic conditions. Thousands of different herbs, minerals, teas, tinctures and other extracts are utilized depending on a patient’s specific symptoms.
Herbal medicines can be a hugely effective therapy for many conditions as in:
- Fertility Support
- Digestive Disorders
- Common Cold & Flu
Holistic Alternatives works with herbal medicines that promote self-healing and that carry far fewer risks of harmful side-effects than pharmaceutical drugs do.
How are herbs different from pharmaceuticals?
Most pharmaceutical drugs are single chemical entities that are highly refined and purified and are often synthesized. In 1987 about 85% of modern drugs were originally derived from plants. Currently, only about 15% of drugs are derived from plants. In contrast, herbal medicines are prepared from living or dried plants and contain hundreds to thousands of interrelated compounds. Science is beginning to demonstrate that the safety and effectiveness of herbs is often related to the synergy of its many constituents.
How is herbal medicine different from conventional medicine?
The primary focus of the herbalist is to treat people as individuals irrespective of the disease or condition they have, and to stimulate their innate healing power through the use of such interventions as herbs, diet, and lifestyle.
The primary focus of conventional physicians is to attack diseases using strong chemicals that are difficult for the body to process, or through the removal of organs.
Not only does this ignore the unique makeup of the individual, but many patients under conventional care suffer from side effects that are as bad as the condition being treated.
The philosophical difference between herbalists and conventional physicians has profound significance.
Herbal Tonics to Reduce Stress
Stress is something that affects everybody. Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional tension or strain resulting from demanding or adverse circumstances. This can result in a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, muscle tension, pain, insomnia, worry, anxiety, depression and even disease. And according to a recent survey, nearly 77 percent of all Americans regularly experience physical or psychological symptoms caused by stress (American Institute of Stress, May 2017).
On a cellular level, chronic stress has actually been shown to shorten the immune cell telomeres. Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes found in chromosomes that promote genetic stability. When the body is stressed, the immune cells are less likely to duplicate and this puts the body at risk of infection or illness.
So what can be done to reduce stress? The simple answer is a ton. Some examples of ways to deal with stress include exercising, journaling, meditation, coloring, getting a massage, reading, watching a movie, talking with friends, playing games, sitting in nature, eating healthy food and even acupuncture.
This leads us to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a 3,000 year old medical system that can balance the body, relieve stress and decrease/prevent disease. TCM utilizes many modalities to treat people, but according to many scholars, it all began with herbal medicine. Herbs can be used alone or in conjunction with one another to create customized formulas that help heal the body.
Here are some examples of herbs and formulas that can combat stress.
1. Eleuthro or Ci Wu Jia: This herb is an adaptogen, meaning it has revitalizing or restorative properties. In particular, Ci Wu Jia works very well for people who work high stress jobs, work long hours or have erratic schedules. It supports quality sleep and also strengthens the immune system.
2. Aswhagandha: While this herb is not regularly used in TCM, it is still a very potent herb for tackling stress. Specifically, ashwagandha helps with anxiety, fatigue and stress-induced insomnia. It is also used to support the immune system and stimulate the thyroid gland for those suffering from hypothyroidism.
3. Xiao Yao San: This herbal formula combines several herbs to become one of the most frequently prescribed formulas in TCM. Xiao Yao San soothes the liver, which according to TCM theory is where stress is controlled.
4. Cordyceps or Dong Chong Xia Cao: Cordyceps is a type of fungus found on caterpillars. It has been used by TCM practitioners for centuries to fight fatigue, support the immune system and protect the liver and kidneys.
5. Suan Zao Ren Tang: This herbal formula is very effective for treating agitation, insomnia, irritability and scattered thoughts. These symptoms are very common in people who are overworked and emotionally stressed out.
Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs and formulas mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from stress and anxiety. To find out more about these herbs, reach out to us!