What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
Although, in the West, acupuncture is better known, in the East, herbal medicine is the main modality within Chinese Medicine. It has been used throughout Asia and is now widely used within hospitals in China. Hence there is a huge experiential evidence base. Herbs are given in mixtures known as formulas, designed to closely match the patients particular presentation of their illness. Many of these formulas have a written history of 1800 years.
What are herbs used for?
The range of problems commonly treated with herbal medicine is greater than with acupuncture although there is a large overlap. In China, usually in a hospital setting, this may include severe acute problems whilst in the West we tend more to treat chronic problems, which may be functional such as IBS, asthma or hyperthyroidism or involve chronic degeneration of tissues and organs such as heart disease or chronic lung disease. It is common to see gynaecological problems and skin diseases. Musculo-skeletal problems are less commonly treated than with acupuncture although herbs can play a very useful adjunctive role and are particularly important in arthritis.
How are the herbs taken?
The herbs we use are produced in China as granulated concentrates. They can be dissolved in hot water and drunk or taken dry followed by cold water. They famously don't taste good but the concentrates we use are 'cleaner' tasting than most. Also, interestingly, often after the initial dose or two people develop a taste for the herbs and a feeling that the body 'wants' them.
How much will it cost?
The initial consultation is £50 and follow up visits are £30. The herbs are charged by weight and so the cost varies but, as a guide, their weekly costs can range from £10 to £25.