Chinese Medicine Longmont
What can Chinese medicine treat?
This is a common question and for good reason. Chinese medicine, at this point, is not a standard part of our culture, whereas in China, basic Chinese medicines and what Chinese medicine is good for, are common knowledge.
The history of Chinese medicine shows that it has been used for a broad variety of medical conditions from epidemic diseases to common colds, depression, insomnia, allergies, digestive problems, back pain, or even infections.
These days, Chinese medicine is most commonly used in the treatment of chronic health issues, especially those that don’t respond well to standard care.
Does Chinese medicine really work?
This is always a good and fair question. Fortunately, at this point in time, there is a massive amount of research showing not only the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine but also safety, specifics of how they work, and exact chemical constituents of the herbs.
This provides us huge amounts of data on which herbs help with inflammation, which improve circulation, which improve heart function, which are anti-allergenic, or which are anti-depressive or anxiolytic. We even have countries like Japan which now have more than 50 years of specific clinical research on formulas for conditions like hepatitis or formulas used to aid in the treatment of certain cancers.
The body of research and clinical data has grown so strong, that we now see Chinese herbal medicine being used in modern hospitals and cancer centers and even some of the most well known facilities such as Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic.
Is Chinese medicine better than western medicine?
This may seem an odd question, but actually it is quite a common one. And the true answer is that neither medicine is the best in all instances.
Modern, western medicine has come out with some incredible, life-saving medical interventions and it often excels in the treatment of trauma care (acute, life-threatening disease, severe acute injuries, infections, etc.).
Where modern western medicine is often lacking is in the appropriate treatment of many chronic health problems. This may often involve utilizing medicines for issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, or chronic digestive issues. While the medicines used can often be helpful for acute symptomatic management, they are neither designed nor appropriate for treating chronic health problems. In fact, without utilizing appropriate treatment to fix the cause of the problem, the health issue often tends to get worse and the use of chronic medicines can start to cause both side effects and potential damage to the body.
In cases such as these, Chinese medicine often excels both at achieving symptomatic relief and also in addressing the underlying disease mechanisms. This means that the treatment aids in either fixing the problem or strengthening body process such that the need for either prescription drugs or herbal medicines may no longer be necessary.
A good example of this is a woman in her 60’s who came to our office complaining of chest pain related to a heart issue (angina pectoris). The patient had already undergone multiple bypass surgeries and was currently taking nitroglycerin for her chest pain. Through treatment with Chinese herbal medicine, she was able to stop this medication and experienced relief even after stopping treatment. Her cardiologist also noted decreases in her coronary blockages.
This really is just one such example. The truth is that sometimes Western medicine is the best choice. In other cases, Chinese medicine may be the best choice. Realistically, there may be cases when a blend of the two would be optimal.
Does Chinese medicine have side effects?
There is a belief that natural medicines or herbal medicines do not have side effects. This really isn’t entirely true. Any medicine, prescribed poorly or used improperly, can have side effects. This may not be seen as commonly because many over-the-counter “natural” medicines have quality which simply isn’t strong enough to make physiological changes to the body.
Something I tend to stress in my practice is that there is a difference between “side effects” and what I term “treatment effects.” For example, some medicinals are designed to flush excessive fluid from the body and can lead to increased urination or mild diarrhea. In this case, these are actually goals of treatment, though they may feel a little unpleasant. Another example would be inducing sweating to promote certain immune system properties. Again, something that may not feel pleasant, but provides a specific therapeutic goal.
Side effects are another issue altogether. One of the benefits of Chinese herbal medicine is that there is a history which spans for thousands of years. This means that there is an enormous body of literature that describes how medicinals should and should not be used. It also gives us the benefit of understanding how combining herbal medicines can be used to mitigate or completely eliminate negative effects that might be caused by certain herbs.
This is why it is not uncommon to see an herbal formula with 10 or more herbs. Odds are, the herb combinations come from a reach history showing that when used together these medicinals not only provide synergy, but decrease or totally eliminate the potential for side effects. In the hands of a well trained Chinese herbalist, side effects are a rarity.