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Chinese herbal medicine (zhōng yào xué 中草药) has been used for thousands of years to treat dis-ease and stay healthy throughout the seasons. Chinese herbs are used within a formula consisting of 4 to 12 herbs, each with different properties to create a synergy which potentiates the effects of each herb, while mitigating potential side effects. Classical formulas which are thousands of years old are still used today for their potent yet well-balanced effects. The synergy created in these formulas can be thought of as a symphony orchestra which is composed of wind, string, brass and percussion instruments. Individually played these instruments are beautiful, but when guided by a skillful conductor to play specific melodies and harmonies together, the effect is physically and emotionally transformative. Musical vibrations were utilized as medicine in ancient China, even before plant medicines. The traditional Chinese character for medicine 藥 (yào) is composed of the character for music 樂 (yuè) with the radical for grass or plant 艹 (cǎo) ontop. Like music, plant medicine carries a vibration for the body to co-resonate with to restore physical, mental and emotional harmony.   


Chinese herbs are viewed according to their taste, temperature, movements, and how they influence the qì (氣), Blood (xuè 血), Body Fluids (jīn yè 津液), yīn (阴) and yáng (阳) of the body, and any pathological influences afflicting the body. Most commonly these herbs include leaves, twigs, flowers, roots, barks, seeds, and mushrooms. Chinese herbal formulas address the underlying pattern or root cause of disease, therefore two people with the same complaint may be given different formulas, while two people with different complaints may be given the same formula. Chinese herbal medicine may be utilized to address a wide range of concerns such as the common cold, respiratory complaints, digestive complaints, stress, fatigue, gynecological disorders, andrological disorders, dermatological conditions, emotional unease, physical trauma, disorders of the sensory organs, sleep related issues, and more. 


Today we know that plant medicines powerfully modify human biochemistry. The modern pharmaceutical industry often extracts active chemical constituents from herbs, such as ephedra used in Ephedrine to treat asthma, which is extracted from the Chinese herb Máhuáng 麻黄. However, this leaves behind the other chemicals within the plant, thereby changing the therapeutic effect of the plant according to traditional medicines. Essentially, the plants natural intelligence has been disrupted. Chinese medicine utilizes the whole plant because, as it is said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In my practice, herbal medicines are administered by way of raw herbal powders. Simply scoop the prescribed dosage out of your bag, place in a teabag, add hot water and teabag to a thermos, and infuse over night. Split into two doses and drink the next day. Detailed instructions are given when herbal medicines are prescribed!

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