Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has been used in China for over 2,000 years. It is a practice commonly used in conjunction with medical nutrition and acupuncture; however it can be used as a stand-alone therapy as well. Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine works by combining herbs in a formula that is administered either by powder or pill. Each formula is individually created per patient after assessing their current condition and any medications that may be taking. At Active Living Health Center we take pride in offering our patients an alternative to prescription medications and work with a highly qualified compounding pharmacy to deliver herbs right to your door. kamwo

Five Commonly Used Chinese Herbs

Astragalus (huangqi)

The long tap roots of astragalus are, today, the most commonly used herb material in China. Astragalus normalizes immune responses (used for immune deficiency, allergies, and autoimmunity), benefits digestive functions, and treats disorders of the skin from burns to carbuncles. Astragalus is used as a promoter of the functions of several other herbs, such as salvia and tang-kuei (mentioned below). It is used in the treatment of AIDS and hepatitis, for chronic colitis, senility, and cardiovascular diseases. Cancer patients who take this herb can often avoid the white blood cell deficiencies (leukopenia) that occur with chemotherapy. The root is rich in polysaccharides and flavonoids that produce the beneficial effects. Astragalus may be used by itself, usually as a liquid extract, or in combination with other herbs in the form of teas, pills, or tablets. Dosage is from 1-60 grams per day, depending on the application and form. Caution: some individuals may experience flatulence and abdominal bloating from use of astragalus.

Atractylodes (baizhu)

The rhizomes of atractylodes are considered very important to the treatment of digestive disorders and problems of moisture accumulation. The herb helps move moisture (and nutrients) from the digestive tract to the blood, reducing problems of diarrhea, gas, and bloating, and helps move moisture from the body tissues to the bladder for elimination, alleviating edema. The herb is frequently included in tonic prescriptions, and the herb is rarely used by itself. Dosage is from 200 milligrams in capsules and tablets to 15 grams per day in the form of decoction. Caution: persons suffering from a hot and dry condition may experience worsening of those symptoms if large amounts of atractylodes are used.

Coptis (huanglian)

This rhizome (underground stem) is one of the most bitter herbs used in Chinese medicine. It is rich in alkaloids that inhibit infections and calm nervous agitation; it is usually combined with other bitter-tasting herbs, such as phellodendron, scute, and gardenia, to promote these actions. Examples of its many uses include treatment of skin diseases, intestinal infections, hypertension, and insomnia. Coptis is a close relative of an extremely bitter and very useful American herb, goldenseal. Because of its taste, coptis is most often used in the form of pills or tablets. Typical dosage is from a few hundred milligrams of powder to 3 grams in decoction per day. Caution: regular use of coptis in large dosage may cause diarrhea.

Ginger (jiang)

The fibrous rhizome of this herb is highly spicy and said to benefit digestion, neutralize poisons in food, ventilate the lungs, and warm the circulation to the limbs. Today, ginger is commonly used as a spice in cooking; as a medicine it has been shown helpful in counteracting nausea from various causes including morning sickness, motion sickness, and food contamination. Many herbalists use ginger in the treatment of cough (it acts as an expectorant) and common cold. Ginger is used in making teas and the powder is encapsulated for easy consumption. Typical dosage is from a few milligrams used as an assistant in herb formulas to about 3 grams per day in making decoctions. Instant tea granules (sugar or honey base) are available. Caution: persons who suffer from dryness-dry cough, thirst, dry constipation, etc.-may find that ginger worsens the condition.

Ginseng (renshen)

The root has long been cherished as a disease-preventive and a life preserver. It calms the spirit, nourishes the viscera, and helps one gain wisdom. Modern applications include normalizing blood pressure, regulating blood sugar, resisting fatigue, increasing oxygen utilization, and enhancing immune functions. Traditionally, the root is cooked in a double boiler to make a tea, used either alone or with several other herbs. Today, teas can be made quickly from carefully prepared extracts in liquid or dry form; ginseng powder is made into tablets or encapsulated, and ginseng formulas are available in numerous forms for easy consumption. Typical dosage is 0.5-3.0 grams. Higher doses may be used over the short term for specific therapeutic actions: in China 30 grams is recommended to treat shock (sudden hypotension). Caution: excessive consumption of ginseng can lead to nervousness and may produce hormonal imbalance in women. (Source: