Herbal therapy is one of the other main treatment methods. Herbal medicine relies on the detailed diagnosis of the imbalances in the body to derive a herbal combination specific to each patient.
Herbs work by:
- Moving and building the Qi, blood and fluids of the body
- Warming or cooling the body
- Draining or retaining the fluids of the body
- Drying or moistening the body
As you can see these actions are mostly in pairs of opposites, which enables balance to be restored.
Herbal treatment takes a holistic view, for example to treat a cough, it must first be determined how the body is affected and what imbalance has occurred, then an appropriate group of herbs are combined to treat the problem. Simply using stop cough herbs does not address removing the pathogen or supporting the body in returning to health and balance. It is in the combination of herbs that the most benefit is obtained and side effects are minimized or avoided. The focus in each treatment is holistic: it takes into account the strength and nature of the pathogen, the degree of imbalance, the age and sex of the patient, and their constitutional fragility or robustness.
Herbal formulas are comprised with herbs designed for each patient. Changes in dosage and herb composition change the focus of the formula and hence what it can treat.
Herbal formulas come in different forms:
A raw herbal decoction consists of individually weighed unprocessed herbs placed together to form one bag of ‘formula’. One bag is boiled to make either one or two days worth of medicinal liquid. This is the strongest form of herbal medicine; it offers flexibility to the practitioner to custom the formula to the patients specific needs.
A raw herbal decoction is powdered after it has been assembled for a specific patient. The powdered herbs can then be taken as a decoction after boiling or in powdered form either mixed with warm water or in capsules. In this case the preparation time is reduced for the patient yet access to the strength of the unprocessed herbs is obtained.
These are famous formulas used for generations for common illnesses. They are tiny herbal pellets, referred to as tea pills, which are taken two or three times a day. Taking herbs in this form is sometimes more convenient for the patient as they require no preparation. However, they are pre-formulated, so they may not match a specific situation.
Freeze Dried (Granular)
These are raw herbs that have been cooked and freeze dried. These are more convenient than the raw decoction as no cooking is required, but they are not as strong. They are stronger, however, than the patent medicine and adaptable a patient’s specific situation.
These are alcohol and water extracts of raw herbal formulas. These are convenient and effective; there are certain situations where a tincture is the most effective method of treatment.
Topicals (liquids, creams, salves, pastes, plasters)
These preparations involve the external application of the herbs; there are numerous circumstances where these are most effective.