Herbal medicine is the main treatment used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is the world’s oldest, continuously practiced form of medicine, dating back more than 2500 years. The approach used by practitioners of TCM differs significantly from the approach used by practitioners of western medicine.shutterstock_chinaviewIn western medicine, with it’s scientific, disease-oriented approach, the goal is to find the bacterium, virus, enzyme, or other substance causing the illness, and eradicate it or modify it in some way, usually by targeting a drug aimed at the microbe or chemical substance felt to be at the cause of the illness. In TCM, illness is thought to be due to an imbalance or blockage of the proper flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), which is the energy believed to be flowing through our bodies in meridians, or channels. The goal of herbal medicine in TCM is the restoration of the flow of Qi, which then allows the body to restore itself to health and wellness.

The selection of herbal medicine is individualized for each patient based on the history and physical exam. The herbal medicine given to each patient is intended to restore the proper flow of Qi in that patient, and can differ from patient to patient even though they may have the same symptoms.

Herbal medicine can be given in a number of forms, including extracts, tinctures, granules, powders, and capsules. The most common method of administration is by drinking a liquid, which is prepared by boiling the selected herbs. This is felt to be the most potent and effective form of herbal therapy. Herbal therapy is often combined with acupuncture, which is also intended to balance the flow of energy in the meridians.

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