What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine is an essential element of Oriental Medicine. It involves the study of herbology; the combination of various herbs to create medicinal formulas for the treatment of all medical conditions. The typical herbalist pulls from a bank of about 400 herbs, and can knowledgeably combine these into any number of unique formulas to suit the specific needs of their individual patients.
Unlike in other branches of medicine, oriental herbs are very infrequently prescribed on their own. Practitioners combine herbs into a formula that specifically utilizes various aspects of each herb to not only directly affect the condition at hand, but to support all the other herbs in the formula. A typical formula contains anywhere from 4-15 herbs.
Many oriental herbs have become relatively well known in western culture, and can be found in the supplement sections of health food stores. Examples of these are goji berries, astragalus, ginseng, licorice root, dang gui, hawthorne berry, bupleurum, etc. Although most of these are mild and harmless, remember that these herbs are not supplements, and should be taken only in a formula prescribed specifically for you by a practitioner of Oriental Medicine who has been rigorously trained in herbal medicine.
All acupuncturists licensed in the state of California are proficient in (amongst other things) acupuncture and the use of medicinal herbs. That being said, the study of Oriental herbology is a lifetime study that some acupuncturists find too intimidating to integrate into their practice.
In our clinic herbs are prescribed when we feel it necessary to effectively treat a patient's condition. We take herbology very seriously, as it is a very potent aspect of Oriental Medicine that should be absolutely utilized when necessary, and yet avoided (as with any oral medication) when other methods can have the desired clinical effect.