Chinese Herbal Medicine» Find a therapist dealing with Chinese Herbal Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete holistic health care system consisting of various different treatments, including Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM).
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The overall objective of CHM is to restore the body's equilibrium, as the treatment is based on the principle that physical and mental illness are caused by unbalance within the body. In CHM the body is viewed as a balance of two opposing forces, Yin and Yang. Yin represents the cold, slow or passive aspects of a person while yang represents hot, excited or active aspects. If these two opposing forces become unbalanced then it leads to a blockage in the flow of qi (pronounced chee), or vital energy. When an individuals qi is unable to flow freely throughout the body, the body's energy meridians become obstructed. This could be a result of stress, overwork, poor nutrition, environmental conditions or even injury.
Your practitioner will be able to diagnose the cause of the imbalance through observational signs and symptoms given by the body and will then form a suitable treatment plan involving herbal remedies to stimulate energy flow and restore harmony.
Herbal Medicine treatments are generally based upon a single plant material containing small quantities of numerous active ingredients thought to balance each other out. The herbs used in your prescription will be chosen for their properties which include the energies cold, cool, warm and hot. The flavours pungent, sweet, sour, salty and bitter and movements of ether upwards towards the head, downward towards the lower extremities, inward towards the organs or outward towards the superficial regions of the body. Herbs are usually prescribed in a combination designed to balance the various components and create a synergy, resulting in little to no unwanted side effects.
Due to CHMs longstanding effectiveness and influence in the East, it has recently experienced a rapid growth in popularity in the West. It still forms a major part of the Chinese healthcare system and is provided in state hospitals alongside western medicine.
In 1973 archaeologists uncovered the graves of two Chinese aristocrats dating all the way back to 168 BCE. The exciting find included valuable medical data written on silk scrolls well over 2000 years old. The literature, which as it stands is the oldest existing example of therapeutic material, referred to 247 substances which were used by these people to treat a variety of ailments.
Around the same time archaeologists also discovered the tomb of a Chinese physician from a slightly later period. The grave contained 92 wooden bamboo slips, which provided important pharmaceutical data. The medical records included a list of some thirty prescriptions, which featured about one hundred drugs.
The archaeological discoveries indicated that during the time that passed between the deaths of the first and second men, CHM was developed and refined. Development continued throughout the years and gradually evolved into the sophisticated system we know today.
Chinese medicine is now embraced and practised throughout the country of China, with the majority of hospitals using both traditional and modern medicine. In addition to this most medical university's consider both forms of medicine equal and allow their students to major in one but whilst still studying the other.
What do we know?
When you visit your GP with regards to an ailment, they will usually prescribe you with one drug based on an isolated active ingredient aimed at targeting the source of your pain. A CHM practitioner on the other hand, will prescribe you a number of herbs in combination. The different components of the formula will balance each other out and in doing so are less likely to cause unwanted side effects. Herbal medicine also focusses on correcting imbalances within the body as opposed to just focussing on symptoms alone.
Is Chinese Herbal Medicine safe?
As with most medicines, Chinese herbs are perfectly safe when prescribed by a properly trained practitioner. Although the herbs are natural, there is a possibility of an adverse reaction if incorrectly prescribed, highlighting the importance of giving a detailed medical history and using a qualified practitioner.
Throughout the thousands of years traditional Chinese medicine has been in practice a plethora of information has been gathered on the different herbs and their properties. Currently the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (UK regulator of CHM) is working in conjunction with Bristol Chinese herb Garden and with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to further add to botanical knowledge of herbal medicines.
What to expect
If you decide that this is a treatment you would like to pursue, the natural first step is to have an initial consultation with your practitioner which you can expect to last around 1 and a half to 2 hours. During the consultation your practitioner will take the time to discuss your illness with you in depth, asking you for a detailed medical history including details of any injuries and medication plus your symptoms and other aspects such as diet and lifestyle.
Once the practitioner has analysed all of the details given they will be able to provide treatment based on your personal circumstances, accompanied by certain advice and guidelines plus suitable adjustments for dosage. The practitioner will also give you an idea of the number and frequency of treatments you might need.
How many sessions will I need?
The length of treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. For a minor complaint or a recent injury or illness you will probably only need to take herbs for a short amount of time. However a long standing condition will need a longer course of treatment.
The herbs are available in a variety of formats, most popular are dried herbs which are boiled to make tea, or herbs in a pill format or freeze dried powders. At first you won't be accustomed to the taste of the herbs and they can often be quite bitter, however this is something you will get used to fairly quickly. The majority of herbs will be taken internally though there are certain concoctions to be used externally for skin conditions.
The cost of your treatment and the herbs prescribed will be entirely based on your individual practitioner and the preparation you receive. It's best to enquire about charges when you make you appointment so you have an idea of what to expect.
Generally, concentrated powders lasting from one and two weeks will cost you around £15, meaning you should expect to pay around £30 for a months worth. Dried raw herbs are slightly more expensive and cost around £25 for a one to two week supply and £50 for a month.
What training and qualifications do therapists need?
Currently anyone in the UK is able to call themselves a Chinese Herbal Medicine practitioner as there is no law which states individuals must be qualified or competent to have access to herbal medicines.
Despite this it is always reassuring to know that your practitioner is working to certain levels of good practice and professional associations are there to ensure that their members are doing just that. Individuals can choose to register with these societies and in order to do so and become accredited must meet certain requirements set by the organisations, complying with their code of ethics and complaints procedure.
The requirements needed will depend on the organisation but generally will involve a high level of training and a certain amount of experience.
Listed below are a number of professional associations for CHM practitioners. To find out more information about accreditation please visit the professional bodies' websites below.
The Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM) is a regulatory body for all of those wishing to practice acupuncture, CHM and tuina in the UK. It is dedicated to excellence in the practice of TCM and promotes professional qualifications and high standards in the profession.
The Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) exists to provide information to members of the public who are seeking a qualified practitioner bound by Codes of Ethics and Good Practice, with full professional insurance.
The normal route to becoming a member of the RCHM is usually via graduation from a UK educational institution that has been accredited by the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTPA).
Applicants who have not graduated from an affiliated college are required to present evidence of training, qualifications and experience to become a member of RCHM.
The Acupuncture Society is a body of acupuncture practitioners which was formed to promote the development of Traditional Chinese Medicine as an effective medical practice. Members are bound by a strict Code of Ethics, Rules and Regulations and a Code of Professional Conduct as well as being obliged to comply with local health authority safety, hygiene and sterilisation requirements and carry full indemnity insurance.
All content displayed on Therapy Directory is for provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional. Whilst some people have benefited from complementary and alternative therapies, no claims can be made to treat, cure or heal, and we strongly advise individuals with any health problem to seek independent medical advice from their GP before considering complementary or alternative medicine or treatment.Submit feedback on this page