1. How does herbal medicine work? Herbal medicine is the use of plants for both preventing and healing both chronic and acute health issues and is one of the oldest forms of medicine. To practice herbal medicine, an herbalist must be trained in a diagnostic system both to select the appropriate herbs and formulas for an individual, as well as to monitor the effect of the herbs. In my practice I use Chinese medicine, a wholistic system of medicine developed in China over 2000 years ago that is still practiced today. Chinese herbal medicine seeks to alleviate the branch or acute symptoms, while also targeting the root cause of illness. Chinese herbal medicine can be used to prevent and treat acute and chronic illness, as well as to reduce the side effects of western pharmaceuticals and medications.
My goal is to practice a truly integrated form of herbal medicine by using both the herbs and philosophies of western and Ayurvedic traditions. This means that the strategies I use with people may combine formulas and/or herbs from one or more of these systems. These systems complement each other well, with each offering different herbs and herb functions that expand the overall range of herbs available to me for addressing different health issues.
2. Are there any side effects to taking herbs? If a formula is matched appropriately with the specific condition, side effects tend to be rare. Herbal formulas usually use a balance of herbs with varying actions that are blended to balance any side effects that a single herb may have when used in isolation.
3. Are herbs safe? Yes, herbs are safe when taken in recommended dosages for the appropriate indications. In addition, I buy from several, carefully selected, trusted companies that offer quality control measures to ensure the integrity of the herbs they sell. I do this in order to provide the highest quality herbal products for my clients. I buy herbs in two formats: concentrated extracts and whole/bulk herbs. The herbs I buy are carefully tested for adulterants. For more information about the comprehensive testing that is performed on the concentrated extracts I use sold by Crane Herbs (KPC brand), see https://www.craneherb.com/web/practitioner/custompharmacy/about/kpc2.aspx. I use several different companies to buy bulk western, Chinese, and Ayurvedic herbs that have high quality control standards.
4. What types of health issues can herbs be used for? Herbs can help to prevent acute and chronic illnesss. They do this by helping to gently regulate and facilitate good digestion, elimination, and sleep so your body is able to maintain and heal itself. Herbs can also help with a full range of physical and emotional issues, such as PMS, issues with menopause, digestive problems, insomnia, headaches, depression, and allergies. In fact Chinese herbal medicine is also helpful in addressing issues that do not have a specific diagnosis or explanation in allopathic medicine. This is because Chinese medicine identifies subtler indications of imbalance and offers a detailed diagnosis based on these indications that allows the practitioner to develop specific herbal, food, and qi gong prescriptions based on that diagnosis.
5. Can I use herbs in combination with western medical treatments and care? Yes, you can. The strategies that come from a consultation are designed specifically as a complement to work in conjunction with any western medical treatments you are using. For example, Chinese herbal medicine can be used to decrease the side effects or even to increase the beneficial effects of certain medications. Chinese herbal medicine, although distinctly different from western medical care in both philosophy and application, does not take the place of it in the management of disease and illness.
6. How do I take the herbs? Herbs are available in a variety of forms, from tea blends that you make, concentrated extracts of individual forms that come in powder form, raw herbs that are used for cooking, fluid extracts (in an alcohol base), pills, syrups, liniments and oils for external use, to powders that are taken as a paste in a base such as honey or blackstrap molasses. Herbal formulas, including the herbal blend and form, are made and tailored to each individual's needs.
7. What happens during an herbal consultation? Herbal consultations involve a wholistic case history that lasts about 1.5 hours. Questions in the initial consultation include a detailed history and description of such things as your emotional and physical health, bodily functions such as digestion and elimination, preferred tastes and climates, and food and beverage intake.
8. How often do I need to come back after the initial consultation? This can vary depending on the condition, the individual, and the herbs you are taking. You can expect to come back for an initial follow-up anywhere from 2-3 weeks following the initial consultation. After this, follow-up visits can happen anywhere from once a month to three times a year, depending on the specific situation and the individual needs. Follow-up visits focus on monitoring and altering the herbal formula as needed, as well as developing a deeper and more detailed use and understanding of nutrition and qi gong appropriate for the specific health issue.