Chinese Herbal Medicine is a part of Chinese Medicine (or TCM) incorporating other treatments such as Acupuncture, Tuina and Cupping. Chinese Herbal Medicine is based on the Chinese concept of Qi and Syndromes. According to this theory, everybody is born predisposed to suffer certain imbalances called syndromes. Lifestyle choices can exacerbate these or other syndromes, and if left untreated these syndromes will cause illness.
For over 4000 years, Chinese Herbs have been experimented with to create complex functional herbal formulae to reverse syndromes and restore balance and health. These herbal formulae are created from a base of hundreds of different herbs. The herbal prescription is tailored to the finest details of the individual according to a comprehensive Chinese medical diagnosis. In a modern scientific perspective these herbs have been found to contain powerful bioactive compounds. Indeed, there have been many pharmaceutical drugs created from researching Chinese herbs. From a Chinese Medical viewpoint, the knowledge of which herbs to prescribe is based on thousands of years of experiential analysis.
The first session will involve a complete consultation. The TCM doctor will perform a tongue and pulse diagnosis which simply involves looking at your tongue and feeling the characteristics of your pulse. This gives the doctor a very good idea of syndromes that you may be suffering from and helps to find the underlying imbalances causing the symptoms and conditions. The doctor will discuss your medical history and may ask seemingly unrelated questions in order to analyse the patterns of the condition.
After a full discussion, the doctor will write a herbal prescription. This can be in two forms. The first is granule form herbal extracts that the doctor will prepare for you. These should be dissolved in hot water and drunk. The second form is raw herbs for you to boil at home. This option is more effort and can cause minor inconveniences as you have to cook the herbs which will cause a herbal smell. The herbs will usually taste very bitter. However, it is generally considered that the raw herbs are more potent than the granules and most doctors would recommend starting treatment with raw herbs and moving on to granules when you start noticing results.
The doctor will usually request follow up consultations every 2-3 weeks to assess if your syndromes are changing and if the prescription should be altered accordingly.
Chinese Herbal Medicine has over 4000 years of history. To put this in perspective, western pharmaceutical medicine has a history of about 150 years. The clinical knowledge base of Chinese Herbal Medicine is mostly experiential with millennia of trial and error and meticulous notes. In the last couple of decades, Chinese Herbal Medicine has risen in popularity in the West.
Chinese Herbal Medicine is considered generally safe and has been operating in an unregulated environment with very low incidences of adverse reactions. The recent Government Herbal Medicines Working Group commissioned a report on the risks of Herbal medicine and has concluded that whilst it is important to be vigilant, there is insufficient proof of risk to warrant any regulation of herbal practitioners. Occasionally patients may have mild allergic reactions or upset stomach, diarrhoea etc but these all disappear when the herbs are stopped. Primarily for efficacy rather than safety, it is important to visit a fully qualified practitioner who is a member of a Chinese Medicine Professional Association. Reputable associations include the CMIR, FTCMP and ATCM.
Chinese Medicine views cancer as a manifestation of an imbalance in the metabolic processes of the body. These imbalances are caused by syndromes which are themselves caused by predisposition, nutrition and lifestyle.
£30-£60 per week for herbs, 25-50 for consultations. Consultations and prescription for herbs: prices will vary a lot depending on the rarity of the herbs in your prescription. Generally granule extracts are less expensive than raw herbs.