Unbeknownst to many people, Chinese herbal medicine is not a singular healthcare discipline; it is actually part of a larger field of practice known as Traditional Chinese Medicine, which researchers often refer to by its initials TCM.
There are three main TCM components: acupuncture, herbal medicine and cupping; the latter received considerable media attention in 2016 during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as members of the United States swim team revealed that they often undergo cupping therapy.
If you think that Chinese herbal medicine is the oldest healthcare practice, you are almost correct. The first known medical practice was spiritual healing, followed by Chinese herbal medicine. Other ancient civilizations have also harnessed the healing powers found in the plant kingdom for healthcare purposes, but the Chinese were the first to apply a research-based approach to herbal medicine.
The herbal remedies used by TCM practitioners work in various manners. Here are four ways that eastern medicine works to improve your well-being:
1 – Promoting Yin, Negative Energy
Yin Yang is a natural concept that acts as a cornerstone of TCM. Yin Yang is a duality conceptualization of how negative and positive energies are in a constant state of attraction. You may have heard of Yin Yang as a representation of the natural attraction between females and males; there is also the concept of Yin a negative energy and Yang as positive energy.
In the world of TCM, a mixture of herbs that nourishes the yin is recommended to be taken daily for proper balance of the circulatory, immune, nervous, and respiratory systems. The specific herbs recommended include astragalus and ginseng roots for the lungs and spleen, lycium fruit for circulation, schisandra fruit for energy, and dong quai root for the immune system.
2 – Promoting Yang, Positive Energy
Depending on the diagnosis and recommendation of a TCM practitioner, you may benefit from taking only a herbal remedy to promote only yin, only yang or both. The nourish the yang and help it to achieve balance with the yin, a herbal remedy can be taken daily to benefit the hepatic, urinary, pancreatic, and digestive systems.
Some of herbs prescribed for promoting the yang include bupleurum and peony root for liver balance, hyssop tops and hawthorn fruit for the digestive system, hoelensclerotium for the kidneys, perilla leaf for relaxation, and tangerine rind to promote healthy breathing.
3 – Stimulating the Circulatory System
TCM practitioners believe that clean circulation can be achieved through healthy kidneys, liver, colon and skin. A strong circulatory system promoted holistic well-being by enhancing the function of internal organs and strengthening the immune system.
The herbal combination recommended for the purpose of stimulating circulation includes lycium fruit, astragalus, ginseng, cornus fruit, salvia root, and others. The goal is to nurture the blood so that it carries nutrients to vital organs and cleansing the body by eliminating certain toxins.
4 – Promoting a Healthy Liver Balance
In the world of TCM, your liver functions as a bridge between the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems. Ailments and conditions that affect the liver can not only cause illnesses but also emotional turmoil. Liver balance can be achieved with a herbal formula called Tiao He, which includes herbs such as atractylodes, zhishi fruit, ginger, ginseng, and licorice.
In the end, thousands of years of research on the holistic effect of Chinese herbal medicine can't be wrong. You owe it to yourself and your family to take advantage of the benefits of this ancient medical practice.
Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. For eastern medicine, Emma recommends Nature’s Sunshine. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2