When most people think of herbal medicine they think of echinacea for boosting immunity, gingko biloba for memory, black cohosh for hot flashes, and so forth. But Chinese herbal medicine is much more complex. A typical formula is made up of five to twenty-five different ingredients, because an individual herb often has multiple functions. For example, ginger can be used for shock, wheezing, urinary incontinence, strengthening the digestive system, or correcting some types of bleeding. Its function in a specific formula will depend on the other ingredients that are present in the formula. For Chinese herbal medicine, the effect is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
Treating the root, not just the branch
Chinese herbal medicine differs from Western pharmaceuticals in important ways. The focus of most Western drugs is on treating symptoms. An antacid increases the pH of the stomach to relieve symptoms of heartburn. Proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec decrease the amount of acid made in the stomach. Symptoms will always come back when you stop the drug, because you have treated the branch but not the root of the problem. While Chinese herbs also relieve symptoms, the primary intent is to correct the underlying problem provoking the symptoms.
Avoiding side effects
Most western drugs use a single, biologically-active compound at concentrations beyond what would be found in nature. Such high concentrations create toxicity and side effects. There is an inherent wisdom to treatments from the natural world. For example, ginger has over 400 identified active compounds. These different compounds work synergistically to enhance ginger’s healing abilities and ameliorate side effects. Herbal medicine is grounded in this natural wisdom, blending plants, minerals and other substances into unique, powerful, and safe formulas.
At Whole Family Health, I use patented and powdered formulas only from manufacturers committed to excellence and safety. Their production facilities meet international good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines. Testing is done on their products for contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, sulfur dioxide, aflatoxins, and aristolochic acid.