Chinese Herbal Medicine
Herbs and diet have an independent and strong power to rebalance the energy meridian system. Dietary choices can be used first, with herbs then added for stubborn symptoms that require a stronger stimulation.
Herbs are classified in four ways and their classifications are considered when making a herbal formula.
Herbs can be classified by temperature. Not the temperature they are consumed at, but rather what temperature they will help create in the body. They may be hot like garlic, warm like leeks, neutral like rice, cool like mint, or cold like watermelon. They help to rebalance the temperature in the body.
Herbs are classified by taste. Pungent, like onions, causes movement. Sweet, like honey, causes harmonizing and tonifying. Bitter, like rye, causes drying. Sour, like vinegar, causes astringing. Salty, like seaweed, causes purging. Tastes are important to direct and individualize herbal combinations.
Herbs can affect a certain organ. For example, asparagus affects the kidney, cranberry affects the bladder, coconut affects the heart, and pears affect the lung. Through this method of classification we can treat an organ directly with herbs in a formula.
Foods and Chinese herbs (plant, mineral and animal substances) are very powerful and effective when combined correctly and prescribed by a qualified practitioner. Formulas can be taken in powder, tea/decoction, or patent pill forms, and are sometimes applied externally. They do not produce side effects when taken properly, and can be safely combined with Western drug therapy and vitamin therapy. Vegetarian formulas are available.
While it is true that some formulas list endangered animal parts in their ingredients, many practitioners strongly support the ban on these products, and substitutions are used. Finding a practitioner who has similar views and ethics to yourself will ensure a formula that you feel good about. A clear indication that an endangered animal part has been used, will be the price that will reflect the herbal availability — it will be very expensive! Formulas created thousands of years ago were done in a far different context and environment than that we know now. Be sure that your herbal formula is compatible with your views.