Chinese herbal medicine dates back in an unbroken tradition to at least the 3rd century BC. Throughout this time it has continually developed to changes in a clinical setting. Today, there are more than three hundred different herbs used in Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) most of which go back to the original traditions. Since, it is one of the world’s oldest continual medical practices, a vast amount of research has been gathered over this time to perfect the techniques and clinical applications of CHM.
The most common methods of applying these herbal therapies are to make a decoction (a strong tea) or large honey pills. This can be time consuming, and honestly most of these taste awful according to our normal sensibilities. Another recent option has been to put the dried herbs in a capsule form, making it much easier to swallow and the capsule itself hides the taste away. The caveat to this technique is that one must take much more of the dried herb as opposed to the preparations to see the same effects.
As stated, there are over three hundred herbs consistently in use in CHM. The most popular of them treat disorders such as depression, anxiety, eczema, gastro-intestinal disorders, and respiratory issues. Practitioners of CHM have shown vast improvements of these disorders through the use of CHM, and many of our modern drugs have their roots in the study and use of some of these plants.
Ginger is one common herb that is not only used medically, but also in cooking foods. Ginger is quite spicy, but has a unique taste that clears out the palette as well as benefitting digestion, strong anti-microbial properties, increase lung respiration, and help circulation in the extremities. It has shown strong anti-nausea effects as well helping those who are suffering from morning or motion sickness and those who have food poisoning. It is also commonly used to treat coughs one would get from an illness such as a cold or flu.
Salvia is another herb used in CHM, even more so in the past two decades as it has recently been shown to help treat damaged body tissue from injury or disease. It is typically used in conjunction with other herbs and medicines for those with chronic inflammation, traumatic injuries, and infections. Salvia is known for its ability to promote capillary circulations in the microcirculation system, in addition salvia lowers the blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, and enhances liver function. Many who use Salvia in CHM combine it with other herbs in their decoctions.
Licorice is known for its distinct flavor that some love or some hate, yet traditionally it was not just used for its flavor in CHM. Licorice roots are purported to help neutralize toxins, relieve inflammation, and enhance the digestion process. Certain drugs actually contain licorice in it to help heal gastric ulcers. Licorice is thought to enhance the formulas of many CHM concoctions, and besides this it enhances the taste of the generally bitter drinks, so roughly 1/3 of all herbal prescriptions do indeed contain this root.
Cannabis Sativa, otherwise known as marijuana https://www.iceheadshop.co.uk/cannabis-seeds.html in the western world, has a deep history within CHM. The plant itself has been used for various reasons for the past 10,000 years of Chinese culture, its use as a medicine most likely began near the beginning of its cultivation. It is one the 50 fundamental herbs of tradition Chinese Medicine, as it promotes healthfulness in a variety of ways. Every part of the Cannabis plant is used in Chinese Medicine, from everything to nervous disorders, respiratory distress, wounds, infections, skin disorders, constipation, the list goes on and on. The THC oil from the plant has great anti-inflammatory attributes that make it excellent for coughs if ingested or applied topically for disorders such as eczema. The hemp seeds are used for gastro-intestinal distress, as eating these seeds promote healthy gut bacteria as well as being high in fiber for clearing out the intestines. Cannabis can be used in any number of way to treat a vast quantity of disorders in CHM, it was even used as a surgical anesthetic during the early 100s and onwards with high success. In fact the term for anesthesia in Chinese literally meaning “cannabis intoxication”.
Probably the most popular CHM herb is that of Ginseng. Ginseng contains a substance known as ginsenosides, which vary depending on how the plant was cultivated and the age of the root itself. Red Panax ginseng is the most popular form and generally comes packaged as a liquid or tea to drink. Wild ginseng is the most rare, and commands the highest market price but generally comes higher in ginsenosides than the more common varieties. Ginseng is used to normalize blood pressure, ease digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, energy boosting, increased respiratory and oxygen utilization, and enhancing the body’s immune system. Because of all this, ginseng has been known for a long time as a disease-preventative and something that helps preserve youth and life in those who take the herb. Ginseng is widely available worldwide, and has been seeing some use in certain drinks marketed in western markets too to promote energy and wellness.
Chinese Herbal Medicine is a vast and highly honored tradition that combines the scientific methods of studying and sharing information about what an herb can do for the body. The basis of our currently non-herbal medical world still stems from a lot of the same principles of CHM, as well as that many of the herbs have been utilized in one form or another in the current western medical realm. Lately we have been seeing a turn back to the old ways of herbal preparations as ways to enhance our drugs, reduce side-effects, or in some cases entirely replace complicated and expensive chemical formulas that have not been studied as long as these herbs. That being said, herbal medicine should not be used to entirely replace a doctor’s prescription for a serious illness but if used in conjunction may very well show to help one out immensely.