Like acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine has a long and rich history. It too has undergone many transformations. Over the centuries, different schools of thought would emerge as to how specific formulas or ingredients should be used.
Most of the changes came about through direct clinical experience of some of the most famous traditional herbal physicians of a given time period. Today we are fortunate enough to have entire books containing their notes and findings on some of their case studies.
When a patient is taking prescription medicine, care must be taken to make sure that there are no potential drug-herb interactions. There is a short list of herbs that are known to have some interactions with prescription medicine.
In these cases it is not advisable to take herbal medicine while taking specific prescription medicine. If a patient decides to take herbal medicine while on prescription medication, they are advised to leave several hours between the two doses. This is done to minimize any interaction whatsoever.
While it is possible to require smaller doses of prescription medicine as a patient’s condition improves, it is not advisable for a patient to stop taking prescription medicine without the consent of their doctor. This must be done with care, and coordinated between the herbal practitioner and the prescribing doctor.
The number of treatments depends on the situation. Usually acute conditions resolve within a few treatments. Chronic conditions often require more sessions. Regardless of what the situation is, whether acute or chronic, patients usually begin to feel better within 3-4 treatments.
The level of improvement during the initial series of visits helps to determine what an appropriate overall course of treatment should be.
The herbal prescriptions we use today are made from naturally occurring substances, which can be tailored specifically to the patient’s needs. Herbal medicine can be used alone quite effectively, or it can be used in conjunction with acupuncture.
The doses and ingredients are quite safe, and usually have no side effects. Because the formulas used are not as concentrated as pharmaceutical medicine, any adverse reactions are normally mild.
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Once the overall intake is done, the actual treatment begins. The immediate effect of acupuncture is usually a feeling of relaxation. In fact, some patients will fall asleep during the visit.
In some cases an emotional release may happen if emotions are a contributing factor to the presenting condition. If this does occur, it usually happens after the treatment is over, or even on the following days.
Occasionally a patient may experience an increase in pain before it gets better. This is normally a good sign as it indicates a strong response to the treatment.
Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine
The first visit will entail a health history intake. The main purpose for the visit is discussed in detail, and information on the overall health and well-being of the patient is collected. Quite often what seems like an unrelated piece of health information may provide a significant clue as to the underlying cause of the condition.
After the health history is done, a pulse and tongue diagnosis is conducted. This is of equal importance as it helps us to further determine root imbalances in the flow of one's energy. With each subsequent visit, the pulse and tongue diagnosis are recorded to ensure that the treatments are helping to restore the balance in the flow of qi.