Acupuncture and herbal medicine often go hand-in-hand. Herbal medicine is often used in conjunction with acupuncture, as appropriate, to support the body’s healing process. Just like a traditional medical prescription, herbs are prescribed by Oriental Medicine practitioners to address a variety of health concerns. They are often prescribed as formulas rather than specific individual herbs and are tailored to the needs of the patient. And just like traditional prescription medicine, herbs are adjusted as the patient’s needs change. Some Western hospitals are now utilizing Chinese herbs in their treatment protocols. For example, the Cleveland Clinic has a licensed and certified Chinese herbalist on staff.
How Chinese Herbs Work
Just like the philosophy behind acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, herbs work to treat the whole body, not just certain symptoms or diseases. The herbs come in the form of easy to digest capsules as well as in teas, liquid extracts and powders. And certain herbs accomplish certain things within the body. For example, peppermint and cinnamon are considered antiviral, however, each person is different in their response to these herbs. And much like any prescription medication, the time it takes for the herbs to help the issue depends on the patient. If someone has a fever, for example, there are herbs that can address that immediately, but if there is a health issue that has had years to develop, the change can take weeks.
Herbs can benefit patients with somewhat complicated conditions or those that might be considered difficult to treat. Issues such as allergies, autoimmune disorders, digestion issues, side effects from cancer treatments, infertility, and menopause, just to name a few, can be helped by herbal formulas specific to each patient. As with any prescription medication, it’s important to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments to the formula.
What to Expect
You can expect to provide your practitioner with a detailed medical history including illnesses and any medications you are currently taking. This is to ensure a formula addressing your specific needs is created and any side effects are avoided since certain herbs and prescription drugs might not interact well. You should also expect to have your liver and kidney function monitored to make sure your body is processing the herbs as it should.
Just like you should check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program or specific diet, it’s a good idea to speak with your acupuncturist directly and not just start yourself on an herbal regimen. Let your herbal medicine practitioner help you design a detailed plan to address your specific health concerns. It’s also important to note that different states have different requirements for herbalists. As easy place to begin your search for a licensed herbal practitioner is by searching the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s Practitioner Directory.
Talk to your acupuncturist about herbal medicine treatments that might be of benefit to you. The addition of herbs to your regular acupuncture routine could be just the boost your body needs!