Explaining how Chinese herbs work to consumers

September 7, 2019

As Chinese medicine practitioners, we have experienced a unique calling to be working in our outstanding modality. First and foremost, we want to assist people feeling better, more vibrant, more fertile, more connected, more energetic and else. We really want them to experience optimal health in the most natural way.

As part of using acupuncture, we want to prescribe or dispense herbs. In my own practice, most of my patients will get herbs because a herbal formula complements the treatment of acupuncture so beautifully. I found using herbs is often more economical to see them through to the next treatment. On rare occasions, I won’t give them herbs because they might take a a myriad of supplements or numerous prescription medications.

I often experience that patients are naturally attracted to the philosophy of Chinese medicine due to its long history but also feel a little confused about it. If they are well educated in Western medicine, there is a tendency to look to single medication or a specific treatment regime for an isolated problem. It’s our responsibility to aim at changing this conception. We want them to be on board of thinking in a holistic and connected way about our body, mind and spirit.

The reason why my patients are happy to take herbs is that I inform them well on the intended actions of the medicines through properties such as temperature and flavor, and, of course most importantly, the synchronicity of the herbs within a formula. I will give them as much information as possible on the pattern that I am attempting to treat and the strategy adopted to achieve that.

The choice of my formula is not based on scientific evidence but results from my assessment and the body of knowledge of our traditional narrative. It’s very different to the pharmacological approach of methodological, scientific research. The question is, how can we accept that both have merit? Perhaps a big question to ponder on another occasion.

So, if we assume that most of our patients do not think the way we do, how can we bring our message across. We certainly see patients who are wanting to make changes to their lifestyles in order to have better health. I see more and more people who also want to stop taking prescription medication and use a more natural approach. This is certainly an advantage for us and a great opportunity to explain how Chinese herbs work best:

  1. As a ‘stimulus’ to correct a certain imbalance or pattern
  2. It’s tailored exactly to their needs
  3. They address the identified pattern of imbalance
  4. Away from food to experience the full ‘flavor’
  5. In the right dosage (not too little or too much)
  6. With a strategy behind such as: Releasing, Clearing, Transforming, Dispelling, Harmonizing, Regulating, Warming, Cooling, Replenishing etc.

Us practitioners play an important role in educating the public and most of us are doing a terrific job to help our cause. Ideally, we spend ample time to increase our patient’s understanding of Chinese herbal formulas and overcome potential misconceptions (they are supplements, non-specific and harmful). It’s time well invested into educating our patients and their families on the potent medicines of herbs and the benefits that we have all seen and experienced personally.

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