People have used herbal medicine for centuries to treat many health conditions. Like acupuncture, herbal medicine aims to restore your body, so that it can protect, regulate and heal itself. Chinese herbal medicine is part of our holistic medical system that looks at your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It is an integral body approach, and a key to good outcomes in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the treatment of each patient as an individual.
Chinese medicine practitioners prefer herbal formulas where the herbs work together synergistically to treat various patterns of disease in the body and, also treat the root cause of imbalance. Unlike western medications, we consider the balance and interaction of all the ingredients more important than the effect of an individual ingredient addressing a symptom.
Chinese herbalists choose the medicinals according to how they target a body part (tropism), their flavor, their temperature, the patient's constitution, and overall health.
The practitioner uses different parts of plants (leaves, roots, tubers, stems, flowers, seeds, minerals, and some animal products), to tailor an herbal formula that targets the patients' presenting signs symptoms at the time of the consult. Usually, we combine different ingredients and you take them as teas, capsules, tinctures, or for external conditions, we use pastes, lotions, and medicated patches. Also, we use powders or decoctions for soaks (i.e. foot soak), and intimate washes.
Chinese herbs may decrease menopausal symptoms, different types of pain, increase energy, improve digestion, sleep quality, regulate menstrual cycles, strengthen immunity, and aid fertility and sexual dysfunction treatments.
When appropriate, we recommend herbal prescriptions as part of your personalized treatment plan. For the safety of our patients, a list of prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbal remedies that the patient is taking must be in the chart before an herbal medicine prescription can be recommended.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have any medical condition, including cancer, or are due to have surgery in the next few weeks, you shouldn’t use herbal medicine without medical supervision.
Under supervision, herbal therapy can be valuable following cancer treatments to aid the body’s recovery from the after-effects of chemotherapy and/or radiation. In some cases, there is evidence that some herbal remedies might prevent or relieve symptoms during cancer treatments. As mentioned earlier, herbal medicine’s therapeutic effects are often achieved through the synergistic and combined actions of different compounds that may counteract pharmaceutical drug's side effects, offering a complementary therapy to the potentially toxic effects of medications.
However, there is no reliable evidence from human studies that herbal remedies alone can treat, prevent, or cure any type of cancer. You could harm your health if you stop your cancer treatment for an unproven alternative. Some clinical trials seem to show that certain Chinese herbs might reduce side effects, and help to prevent cancer from coming back. This is especially when combined with conventional treatment. It is difficult to know how reliable the research is, but there are trials looking into this.
Many people assume herbal products are safe to use when marketed as natural. Some herbal medicines might be safe. But others can have dangerous side effects.
Always follow the specific administration instructions by the prescribing Registered TCM Practitioner or qualified health care professional.
It is very important to avoid prescribing yourself, or following advice from unqualified sources, especially if you are taking pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter medicine, or other natural health products, such as supplements, and other natural remedies.
Once the patient starts herbal therapy, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners must have a follow up consult to determine if the herbs and the dose are working as intended. If necessary, the practitioner will adjust the ingredients/dosage to meet the individual response to the herbal prescription.
At Unleashed Vitality Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, we monitor our patients closely while taking herbs, and a complimentary virtual 15 minutes follow-up is included during our herbal therapy treatments. Depending on the treatment goals, we may continue with the herbal formulation, modify it, or stop it altogether. In most cases, Chinese herbs are not meant to be taken long term.
Health Canada regulates natural health products (NHPs) so that Canadians can have confidence that the products they use are safe, effective, and of high quality. Despite some negative remarks you might find on the internet, our responsibility as regulated health professionals is to keep our patients safe, and if herbal medicine is prescribed, it will be thoroughly discussed with each patient. We would only recommend suppliers that comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) requirements and the guidelines of Health Canada’s Food and Drugs Act (the Act).
*The cost of herbal prescriptions varies.
**Herbal medicine prescription prices are not included in the consultation or treatment fees.
***Chinese herbal medicine is not a substitute for conventional medical treatment.