Not so long ago, you might have found a chemist working behind the scenes in a pharmacy to make medicine for each patient by mixing the different chemical compounds needed to form a pill.  In the recent age of immediate relief and efficiency, the idea of the “one-size-fits-all" pill was developed.  In this way, pharmaceutical companies manufactured a single pill that would work really well for a number of related symptoms.  The downside of this mass production is that it eliminated the chance for customized pharmaceuticals. 

Often times today if you are taking one pill that gives you a side effect, doctors prescribe a second or third medication to reduce those effects.  In contrast, Chinese medicine stays true to the original concept of customized medicinals for each patient.  By creating a formula specific to one individual, based on his or her constitution, the chances of unwanted side effects are greatly reduced.   Furthermore, they target the specific health concerns of the patient rather than blanketing over a range of symptoms.  Chinese herbs can address multiple imbalances in the body.  Sometimes these symptoms may seem completely unrelated in a Western mindset, but could actually all be results of a singular imbalance.

Theories suggest that some pharmaceuticals, specifically antibiotics, can disrupt your natural gut flora and probiotics in your stomach.  This can cause irritation in the digestive tract.  Because Chinese herbs are made for your specific constitution, they tend to be less harsh on your weakest organs and work to tonify any deficiencies.  Another concern with pharmaceuticals, namely narcotics, is the powerful threat of addiction that they carry.  For this reason, many recovering addicts are fearful of taking painkillers.  Chinese herbs are non-addictive! 

Chinese herbs work by balancing the body.  If there is pain, the herbs will not only dull the pain, but also will address the blockage and work to restore a free flow of Qi.  For internal diseases, the herbs will address what organs are out of balance- sometimes eliminating dampness or dryness in order to get the body functioning properly.  For these reasons, Chinese herbs take time!  Depending on your condition, your practitioner may set up a plan for you in which the herbs you take change every week or two until the problem can be fully resolved.  Each different formula works on a separate layer of the disease mechanism.  In this way it addresses each layer one at a time in order to ideally resolve the root issue.

Pharmaceuticals are extremely important in our healthcare system.  The advent of antibiotics in 1935 was one of the greatest discoveries of our time and it is crucial that we keep them available for the years to come.  We are currently facing a crisis of overuse of antibiotics that is leading to greater drug resistance.  This means that our bodies are being selective to which antibiotics will work and which we have already built a resistance to (perhaps from over exposure or improper use of antibiotics).  Using Chinese herbs preventatively and when initial health concerns are noticed will help reduce the rate of drug resistance and allow our antibiotics to work better for longer!

How Do I Take Chinese Herbs?

Chinese Herbal Medicine is typically consumed as a tea.  Here at Vail Valley Wellness we can prepare your customized formula in Bulk (Raw) or Granular (Powdered) form.  The Bulk method is the traditional method of consumption.  This would involve receiving multiple large teabags of raw herbs (think: twigs, roots, flowers) and a detailed instruction sheet.  To cook these herbs, you would typically bring a large pot of water to a boil with the teabag and then simmer for approximately 45 minutes.  This could yield you a decoction of tea that may last up to 3 days (stored in the refrigerator between doses).  Then, the second bag would need to be cooked.  This is more time-consuming; however, it offers the patient the traditional mode of application.  The patient gets to taste, smell, and consume the herbs with all five senses.

More commonly, the Granular method is prepared for patients.  This method seems to have better patient compliance as it is much more convenient.  In this scenario, your custom formula would be prepared to you as a baggie of powder and a small serving spoon would be provided.  Your practitioner will prescribe your dosage and you'll simply consume however many scoops of the formula, mixed and dissolved into hot water, and drank as a tea.  As a bonus this method tends to be a bit more palatable and easy to consume on the go.

In either case, administration typically involves drinking tea twice a day for at least two weeks.  The herbs will act as though your body is receiving an acupuncture treatment each day as it works to bring disharmonies between your organs back into balance.  Please speak with your practitioner about any concerns you may have.

Topical Application of Chinese Herbs

Vail Valley Wellness also offers a number of topical applications of Chinese Herbs.  This refers to ointments, liniments, patches, etc. that are applied to the skin and not for internal consumption.  All of these products have been created using a combination of Chinese Herbs and some form of binding agent, such as oil or alcohol.  Anything that sits on top of the skin also will enter the body through the pores.  We source the highest quality products for our patients because we understand the importance of their safety and efficacy.  If you have any questions about topical Chinese Herbs please speak with your practitioner.