Traditional Chinese herbal medicine is the oldest and most comprehensive form of herbal medicine in the world. Along with acupuncture, it is a main component of the traditional Chinese medical system. Herbal treatments are commonly combined with acupuncture treatments to accelerate and maintain the therapeutic effects of the overall treatment. Furthermore, herbal medicine may be used to treat conditions that are not as effectively treated by acupuncture.
I already take herbal supplements.
What is so different about traditional Chinese herbal medicine?
Most herbal supplements sold in the US are single western herbs. The traditional Chinese system of herbal medicine is much more complex and usually a more effective approach to treatment. Chinese herbs are almost always prescribed as a formula, consisting of multiple herbs. This combination of herbs increases their overall effectiveness while reducing the chance of side effects. These formulas can also be individually tailored to each patient’s specific condition. In other words, two people may have the same disease, but we may treat them with different formulas (or variations of one formula). The type of formula prescribed to a particular patient depends on their age, constitution, other signs and symptoms, severity of disease, etc.
Just like pharmaceuticals, patients should not self-prescribe traditional Chinese herbal medicine. It takes a highly trained practitioner to effectively and safely treat patients with traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Our practitioners have completed this training and are nationally board certified by the NCCAOM in the practice of Chinese herbology. Furthermore, the Charlotte Acupuncture and Wellness Center uses pharmaceutical grade herbs. The herbs tested for potency, consistency, and safety (for heavy metals or pesticides). Due to the high potency, the manufacturer makes these herbal medicinals available only to qualified practitioners.
How is the herbal medicine dispensed?
The three most common methods for dispensing herbs are Granules, Tablets and Loose herbs (decoction). Each one has its advantages, and your practitioner will help you find the right fit for you.
Granule herbs are a most modern to way dispense and administer herbal medicinals. They are perfect balance between convenience, quality, potency, and cost. The ability to customize herbal medicinal formulas for an individual patient's needs is also maintained with the use of granule herbs. For these reasons, granule herbs are the most popular choice among our patients.
High quality raw herbs are selected, harvested, and tested for heavy metals and pesticides. The herbs are then cooked and strained to form a extract (decoction). The extract then goes through a low heat, high pressure process to remove the water. What is left over is a highly concentrated granule powder that contains the active components of the herbs. The individual granule herbs can then be mixed into a customized formula. After the herbs are mixed, small scoops of the granules are mixed with warm water and taken as a tea, 2 to 3 times per day. For patients with a sensitive palate, we do have the option to have the granule formula encapsulated.
The advantage of granule herbs is that they are much more convenient for people who are always on the go or that do not want to cook the herbs themselves. All that is needed is a glass and some warm water, and you can have an instant herbal decoction. Another important advantage of granules is that the herbal formula can be customized and tailored to the needs of each individual patient. The practitioner can increase or decrease the dosage of each individual herb, as well as add or remove herbs in the formula. This allows for a more accurate treatment of the patient.
Granule herbs are extremely potent and are only available to qualified health practitioners. Charlotte Acupuncture and Wellness Center typically has the herbal distributor mix the granule formula and mail it directly to our patients.
Tablets are pre-made granule formulas. The herbs are prepared just like granule herbs (see above), and then the predetermined formula is then pressed into tablets along with a smaller amount of a binder (typically non-GMO potato starch).
Tablets are commonly used in acute conditions, such as colds, flu, & minor sports injuries. They are also highly useful as preventative medicine or during the maintenance portion of the treatment course. The main disadvantage to tablets is that they cannot be customized. In other words, if your practitioner needs to increase the dosage of an herb or take an herb out of a formula, they are unable to do so with the tablets. They would have to either choose a different formula or use granule herbs (capsules or powder). Due to their excellent reputation for high quality, laboratory tested herbal medicinals, the Charlotte Acupuncture and Wellness Center chooses to prescribe Golden Flower Chinese Herbs.
Decoctions - Loose Herbs
Decoctions are more traditional method for administering herbs. A customized herbal formula prescription is written for each individual patient. A typical herbal formula consists of 6 to 20 individual herbs, depending on particular condition being treated and the patient's constitution. The patient cooks these herbs in water to extract the active ingredients and then removes the cooked herbs by straining the liquid (decoction/extract). This extract is then taken 2 to 3 times per day.
The biggest disadvantage of decoctions is that they tend to be inconvenient for most patients. It takes about 2 hours to cook the decoction, and only one week worth of the decoction can be cooked at a time. The decoction then needs to be refrigerated, and each dose must be reheated prior to consumption. Another disadvantage is that they tend to be more expensive then granule herbs.
The Charlotte Acupuncture and Wellness Center uses the most trusted herb distributors in the US. These companies take steps to make sure the herbs are of high quality and do not contain any pesticides, heavy metals, or sulphur. We also have the herbal medicinals mailed directly to the patient's house from the distributor. This step ensures that the patient receives the freshest, highest quality herbs.