Chinese Drug Therapy
Chinese Herbal Medicine is actually called Chinese Drug Therapy in China because it uses a wide variety of substances and therapeutic modalities. Plant, animal and mineral substances are all included in the Materia Medica of Chinese Drug Therapy. The earliest uses date back at least 4,000 years to the Shang dynasty. Characters representing medicinal substances have been found carved into oracular bone fragments. These were used diagnostically by the Wu Shaman of this time.
The earliest materia Medica, the Sheng Nung Peng Tsao, recorded over 10,000 medicinal substances. While there seems to be an almost unlimited amount of medicinal substances, the most commonly used number around 200 with some used only on rare occasions.
There have been a number of different schools of thought in the history of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Paul Unschuld, in his book "Chinese Medicine: A History of Ideas" states that Chinese Herbal Medicine was closely associated with and heavily influenced by the Taoist tradition, while acupuncture was more closely aligned with the Confucian tradition. This was probably due to Taoist explorations in the use of herbal and mineral substances in the search for immortality. Some of the different schools of thought include the school of febrile disease, the school of cold disease, the school of purgation, the school of spleen-stomach, and the school of kidney tonification. They have all contributed both theories and formulas that make up the current styles of use that are popular today.
Chinese medicinal substances are commonly used in combinations called formulas. There are few circumstances in which single herbs are used. This is because formulas are designed to address the combination of symptoms that a person presents for treatment.
The single herbs in the Materia Medica are arranged in categories that reflect their major therapeutic effect. These categories may be additionally subdivided to give greater precision in use.
The major categories in common use are:
* herbs that release the exterior
* herbs that clear heat
* downward draining herbs
* herbs that drain dampness
* herbs that dispel wind-dampness
* herbs that transform phlegm and stop coughing
* aromatic herbs that transform dampness
* herbs that relieve food stagnation
* herbs that regulate the qi
* herbs that regulate the blood
* herbs that warm the interior and expel cold
* tonifying herbs
* herbs that stabilize and bind
* substances that calm the spirit
* aromatic substances that open the orifices
* substances that extinguish wind and stop tremors
* herbs that expel parasites
* substances for external application
The commonly used formulas are also arranged in these same categories with corresponding subdivisions.
Treatment with Chinese drug therapy is done by utilizing the basic theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that are also used by acupuncture and Tuina therapy. The practitioner questions the person about their symptoms and then examines their tongue, palpates their pulse and body, carefully observes any distinguishing characteristics of their coloring, smell, voice, posture, movement or skin. The information acquired from this process is then arranged in a sequential causal pattern to arrive at a diagnosis of the person's condition. Then a specific formula is selected from the most common traditional formulas. This formula may then be modified through the addition or subtraction of substances or dosages. This is done to arrive at a very specific formula for the person's specific symptom pattern. This formula can be administered in the form of a decoction, infusion, tincture, powder, pill, plaster, poultice, bolus, draft or capsule. Many of the traditional formulas are available in tincture, pill, powder or capsule form from commercial herb companies. Raw herbs, or unprepared herbs, can be purchased from a practitioner or at a Chinese Herbal Pharmacy.
Chinese Drug Therapy can be used for:
" colds, flus, sore throats, cough
" sinus congestion
" digestive disorders
" male and female reproductive disorders
" musculoskeletal pain
" rashes, acne
" chronic fatigue, immune system disorders