As a living, classical tradition, Chinese herbal medicine is a storehouse of centuries of scholarship and clinical experience. To apply it successfully depends on deep understanding of the body, a thorough clinical assessment, accurate diagnosis, and fluent knowledge of herbal formulae that is at once precise and flexible.
Like acupuncture, classical herbal medicine is designed primarily to trigger a healing response from your body based on the symptom pattern. As with acupuncture, that makes it unlike other popular healing modalities, whether of the conventional or alternative varieties. It can be hard to grok the concept at first.
Generally, when you take a nutritional or herbal supplement, you are following a more-or-less mechanical view of physiology. Take this for that neuro-transmitter, take that for this hormone, inflammation, cholesterol… etc. The medicine may be natural, but the approach is to micromanage the body. That’s not necessarily good or bad, but it is helpful to recognize.
Let’s say two people have insomnia. One person falls asleep easily enough, but they wake up with racing thoughts, a dry mouth, and they kick off the covers. These and other signs make it clear that their body isn’t managing heat well. A classical formula will pinpoint where the heat-management mechanism is askew and set it right without over-correcting.
Another patient also sleeps poorly, but in this case they cannot fall asleep for hours. They feel “too tired to fall asleep,” their hands and feet are freezing, and they are tired in the morning no matter how much they sleep in. This is a problem with the fluid management mechanism making the mind agitated. (Brain fog, anyone?)
In both of these cases, patients may try various supplements like melatonin, 5-HTP, and herbs such as valerian or passionflower. Those things probably help sometimes, but they are unlikely to correct a chronic problem. For that, you need to understand the pattern, and the method of helping the body return to correct functioning.
Good herbalists study and hone these skills for their entire lives.
All herbs used at Rock Creek Acupuncture are lab-tested for heavy metals and pesticide contamination to the highest standards in the world, and are sourced only from the most trusted suppliers.