At the heart of the Chinese medicine is the use of herbal therapy. Chinese herbal medicine, one of oldest and comprehensive herbal systems in the world, has an unbroken tradition going back to the 3rd century BC. Yet throughout its history it has continually developed in response to the needs and changing lifestyles of people over the centuries. Its effectiveness and efficacy has been sustained by research into every aspect of its use. This process continues today with the development of modern medical diagnostic techniques and knowledge.
It has a very great influence on the theory and practice of medicine in the East, and more recently has grown rapidly in popularity in the West. It still forms a major part of healthcare provision in China, and is provided in state hospitals alongside western medicine. Chinese medicine includes all oriental traditions emerging from Southeast Asia that have their origins in China.
Practitioners may work within a tradition that comes from Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan or Korea. It is a complete medical system that is capable of treating a very wide range of conditions. Some or several of these may be employed in the course of treatment.
Chinese herbal medicine, along with the other components of Chinese medicine, is a holistic health system based on the concepts of Yin and Yang. It aims to understand and treat the many ways in which the fundamental balance and harmony between the two may be undermined, thus resulting in a person’s Qi or vitality being depleted or blocked. Clinical strategies are based upon diagnosis of patterns of symptoms that point to an imbalance in an individual.
However, the tradition as a whole places great emphasis on holistic lifestyle management that advocates prevention over cure. Chinese medicine recognises that health is more than just the absence of disease. Hence Chinese medicine focuses on stimulating the body’s natural ability for self-regulation and self-healing.
Herbal medicine is frequently used in tandem with a complement of therapies like acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, acu-pressure (tuina), reflexology, and candling therapy.
There are over a thousand herbs, dried and treated without use of chemicals, and made available in recent years in a powdered form. The herbs are then combined into formulations consisting between 6 and 16 type of herbs, which are then brewed and consumed as teas. Each formulation is custom blended to treat a patient’s combined list of symptoms and complaints. Typically, the formulation for each patient is changed regularly as the patient’s needs change and condition improves.