Classical Chinese Medicine
For thousands of years, the Chinese have been refining techniques for promoting health as well as assessing and treating illness in the body. The ancient conception of disease still rings true. Wherever flow is impaired, disease takes root. Healthy function requires sufficient circulation. When blood and lymph are unable to flow to bodily tissues, those tissues are deprived of necessary nutrients and waste products accumulate. Treatment involves restoring circulation and reinstating proper organ and tissue function. As a result, symptoms resolve naturally. In China, acupuncture and herbal medicine have historically been used to treat all physical and mental health conditions from the common cold, to anxiety and heart attack.
Western medicine typically focuses on physically measurable markers, such as using cholesterol levels and sclerosis to assess cardiovascular disease. The Chinese system also incorporates these types of findings; however, the doctor pays close attention to subtler functional disturbances to identify disease processes even before they cause physical damage. In this way, we can change the course of pathology to prevent disease and restore health.
The most dramatic results are often experienced by people suffering from diseases that are difficult to pinpoint. They have often been to countless doctors over the years with little relief and even less hope. If you feel confused about your symptoms, don’t dismay! We can help.
Thousands of years ago, healers observed complex relationships between different parts of the body. They mapped out intricate pathways, now known as meridians, and kept careful records of what they observed while stimulating points along these meridians. Throughout history, acupuncturists have been guided by the successes and failures of their predecessors. Acupuncture works by selectively stimulating specific points that have been proven over thousands of years to induce defined bodily responses. If this peaks your curiosity and you’d like to know more about how tiny needles treat complex diseases, check out this article.
Herbal medicine has a rich history in China. The Divine Farmer's Classic of Materia Medica is the earliest surviving herbal text in the Chinese tradition. It dates from the Eastern Han Dynasty, around 100-200 CE, and categorizes 365 substances according to their medicinal properties. This foundational text set the stage for the creation of a highly refined system of diagnosis and herbal prescription. Without double blind research studies to guide their practice, ancient doctors drew on the recorded successes and failures of their predecessors. Ongoing documentation created a lively conversation that transcends two millennia. Now we have a vast treasure trove of evidence-based medicine. Many of our herbal substances have been rigorously tested by modern research. Ginseng, cinnamon, turmeric, astragalus, and reishi are among the darlings of our era. However, many others are less known to modern science.
If you are new to this practice, here are a few interesting things to know. Chinese herbal medicine is distinct from Western practice in several ways. Herbs are always used in combinations, rather than individually. Symptoms will be addressed, but a classical herbalist prescribes formulas to correct systemic imbalances. The symptoms will disappear once the root cause is resolved. The highest classification of herbs is said to promote longevity. The middle class prevents illness and strengthens the body. Only the lowest class of herbs treat disease. Historically, a successful doctor was one that could identify disease processes before they impacted the physical body and thus prevent disease.
We prescribe herbs in several forms. If you have an acute illness, such as a respiratory infection that seems to be turning toward pneumonia, you may be offered dried herbs such as those in the photograph. These are simmered in water to make a strong tea. For most conditions, we will assemble a custom blend of powdered herbs that are simply stirred into hot water. These are easy to integrate into a busy lifestyle. We also have a small selection of more common formulas in capsules.
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