The Healing Benefits of Chinese Herbs

By | March 16, 2022

Dr. Matthew Fellner DACM, LAc

Chinese Medicine has a long history of using herbs to treat any type of medical condition.  This history predates acupuncture and is closely related to the ancient shamanistic traditions of using the bounty of the Earth to both nourish and heal the body.  Many of the herbs that are so commonplace today have been used by various cultures and healing traditions for thousands of years, including ginger, ginseng, cinnamon, acai, and turmeric, just to name a few. 

Modern science has identified the healing benefits of literally thousands of herbs and there is robust research to validate their use for a wide range of conditions.   There are too many to list but here are a few:

Valerian root for insomnia

Reishi mushrooms for a variety of health benefits

Dandelion for a variety of health benefits

In fact, the properties of some herbs have been so well documented that they have been synthesized into common pharmaceuticals.  Digitalis, which is used to strengthen the heart and improve circulation is made from the foxglove plant.  Aspirin contains salicylic acid which was originally extracted from the bark of the willow tree.

What makes this use of herbs different from their use in Chinese medicine, is how they are administered.  Chinese medicine is famous for creating individualized treatments that are tailored to the patients’ specific needs.  Adhering to the old mantra…”one man’s medicine is another man’s poison” is more than just cautionary advice.  It truly forms the basis of how a practitioner establishes the best way to treat the whole person, and not just cover up symptoms. 

A Chinese herbalist will customize a formula that may contain 3, 4, 5 or even up to 20 herbs to specifically target both the symptoms of disease, and the underlying constitution.  He or she not only knows every individual herb and how it affects the body, but also how each herb interacts with each other and can either negate or enhance specific properties.  So, 8 people who all have migraine headaches may each receive 8 completely different types of formulas.  Or they might receive a slightly different formula that is tweaked just enough to match their unique presentation.  It takes many years of training and research to command the entire canon of Chinese herbal medicine.  But when the formula is created that matches what the patient needs, then the results can be dramatic with almost no side effects. 

Finding a qualified herbalist is actually much more difficult than finding a qualified acupuncturist, because there is very little regulation overseeing who can practice and dispense herbs.  Therefore, it is imperative that you look for someone who has an herbal certificate and authorization to practice in NJ.  All acupuncturists who dispense herbs in NJ are required to be NCCAOM certified in Herbal medicine.  The intern clinic at ESATM is  a great place to start, because you’ll be treated by herbal interns who are working under the supervision of licensed practitioners with substantial experience dispensing herbs safely and effectively.

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