Chinese herbal medicine which is also called Chinese materia medica is the study and compilation of herbs for medicinal purposes. The Chinese have used herbal medicines for thousands of years. Chinese herbal medicine is a large portion of what makes up Traditional Chinese Medicine today. The Chinese believe that there is a life energy or qi that must flow through the body unimpeded. They also believe that there are 7 energy centers of the body or chakras that control most of the functions of the body. All of the energy centers must be able to function properly. Energy must be able to move through the pathways to all areas of the body without any blockages for the body to be healthy and hearty. When blockages or other things occur which cause the energy to be sluggish then the body can be hit with disease or disorder.
Chinese herbal medicine is designed to treat disorders that are caused by dysfunction in certain areas. Practitioners look for disturbances in the energy centers in certain areas. First they look for problems that occur with the four natures which relate to yin/yang and are diagnosed as heat (yang) and cold (yin). If a person is diagnosed with a disorder that is attributed to internal cold then herbs which are hot by nature will be prescribed in order to counteract that issue.
Next the practitioner looks to the five tastes for the patient’s diagnosis. The five tastes include pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Each taste has its own particular function and separate set of traits. For example, bitter herbs can purge the blood of toxins and dispels the body of heat. They can cause the bowels to get rid of waste from the body. They can also remove excess amounts of dampness from the body, while sweet tasting herbs are used as tonics or to create harmony with other bodily functions or organs.
The next thing that a practitioner looks at are the meridians or the energy pathways that are present in the body. The meridians will be the pathway that the herbs will work through. The blockages are diagnosed and the cause of the blockage will be treated by herbs which counteract the reason for the blockage. Let’s take bronchitis for example. This problem causes cold in the lungs and the air passages. Herbs that cause heat will draw out the cold from the lungs and the meridians or energy pathways that travel to and from the lungs. Menthol and licorice are examples of herbs that can be used for this purpose.
As stated above, Chinese herbal medicine has been practiced for thousands of years. The methods may seem strange to those of use who are used to Western medicine however we need to stop and think about the fact that many of the cures and herbs that were used over the last few centuries have been used as bases for the pharmaceutical drugs that we enjoy in our modern world today. The herbs that are still used by those who practice Chinese herbal medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine have some advantages in the fact that many of the herbs that are used have few side effects when compared to their counterparts that can be obtained from the pharmacy.
Some of the more familiar herbs that have been used over the years and are still in use today include ginseng. Ginseng has been used by the Chinese for thousands of years for its ability to rejuvenate, reduce stress levels, increase energy levels and increase endurance levels. Ginseng at one point and time was touted as an aphrodisiac. Ginseng has many uses including maintaining a healthy body, general vitality, increased energy levels, decrease the ravages of aging and improve sexual health. Native Americans use ginseng for upper respiratory illnesses that accompany a fever.
Dong Quai is another herb that has been used with great regularity by the Chinese for female health. This is a plant estrogen that is used for problems with menstruation and symptoms of menopause. This herb is recommended for the use of the prevention of menstrual cramps and side effects of menopause including night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings and general malaise.
There are many herbs that can be utilized today for disease or disorders that have less side effects than drugs do and cost far less as well. The Chinese have spent many years perfecting their treatment of many diseases and disorders. We really need to study this further in order to learn more about what they have known for thousands of years.
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