Are Chinese Herbs Right for You?

By: Cassandra Krug, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M. 

Chinese Herbs

Chinese herbs can be taken as a tea you make from raw herbs, as a tea mixed from granules, in pill form, or as food therapy. It is likely you have heard of or even consumed some of the more common Chinese herbs such as:

  • Astragalus (Huang Qi) to boost your immune system
  • Chinese Angelica Root (Dang Gui) to improve circulation and tonify blood
  • Ginseng Root (Ren Shen) to boost energy
  • Goji berries (Gou Qi Zi) to improve vision and tonify the liver and kidney
  • Reishi Mushrooms (Ling Zhi) to improve energy, sleep and memory
  • Chrysanthemum flower (Ju Hua) to lower blood pressure, bring down fevers, and benefit the eyes

As practitioners, our goal is to help you get your body back to a state of homeostasis or balance. Every person has their own unique set of signs or symptoms that contribute to feeling less than optimal and even if they seem unrelated to you, they fit certain patterns as diagnosed using Traditional Chinese Medicine. Every person is a mixture of excess and deficiency and we choose your Chinese herbal formula based on your presentation. A Chinese herbalist will create a formula specific to your health needs based on your diagnosis. Our objective is to assess each individual to find the root cause of your condition and choose your herbs accordingly.

Chinese herbs can work through a variety of mechanisms. One of the most important and well researched mechanisms is by decreasing inflammation. Inflammation can be the cause of many health conditions including: heart disease, chronic pain, autoimmune disorders and diabetes. A research study published in 2013 by W.H Tsai et al. found that using Traditional Chinese Medicine proved to be therapeutic by preserving antioxidant defense mechanisms and decreasing oxidative stress, which helps protect cells and tissues from disease development. The study concluded that TCM was effective in treating several inflammatory diseases (2).  Decreasing inflammation and free radical damage can help to improve cardiovascular and cognitive health. The antioxidant effect of Chinese herbs with the addition of clean eating, reducing stress and proper exercise will help your body to detox and improve your immune system leaving you feeling energized and balanced. Another mechanism by which Chinese herbs can act is through hormone regulation. Getting back to a state of homeostasis will systemically affect your body in multiple ways including:

Evergreen Herbs
  • Decreasing the stress response which will lower cortisol levels
  • Regulate blood sugar, which can reduce food cravings and affect insulin levels
  • Stop hot flashes and night sweats by activating estrogenic activity (3)
  • Improve gut health and nutrient absorption, which can affect serotonin levels and secondarily improve mood and ease depression (1)

A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology concluded that Er Zhi Wan, a Chinese herbal formula commonly used to treat menopausal symptoms activated estrogenic activity and was deemed an effective and safe herbal extract (3).
Chinese herbs are considered safe when prescribed under a licensed Chinese herbalist and purchased from a reliable source. Always consult with your physician and discuss any pre-existing conditions and medications because some herbs can interact with pharmaceutical drugs. Make an appointment today at the Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder for your free consultation to discuss if Chinese herbs can help you to feel your best!

References:
1. Carpenter, S., Dr. (2012, September). That Gut Feeling. Retrieved May 05, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/gut-feeling.aspx
2. Tsai, W., Yang, C., Li, P., Chen, W., & Chien, C. (2013). Therapeutic Potential of Traditional Chinese Medicine on Inflammatory Diseases. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, 3(3), 142-151. doi:10.4103/2225-4110.114898
3. Xu, H., Su, Z., Huang, W., Choi, R. C., Zheng, Y., Lau, D. T., Tsim, K. W. (2012). Er Zhi Wan, an ancient herbal decoction for woman menopausal syndrome, activates the estrogenic response in cultured MCF-7 cells: An evaluation of compatibility in defining the optimized preparation method. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 143(1), 109-115. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.06.009