Chinese Herbalism

Asian health practices and beliefs are significantly different from how westerners and other immigrants believe in medication. Having a good understanding of the health beliefs of the patient could have an impact in clinical care most especially in terms of sharing accurate medical histories and in compliance with treatment recommendations. Most western professionals view Asian health practices as alternative medicine. This causes difficulties whenever western medical professionals try to provide healthcare for Asian individuals. It is important that medical professionals are aware of these types of practices as medical beliefs by different patients can affect clinical care.

One of the most common Asian medical practice is traditional Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a system of beliefs that are concentrated on one idea: everything that is created is formed by the marriage of two polar principles, the Yin and Yang. These are evident in terms such as heaven and earth, hot and cold, night and day, mind and body. The Chinese believe that all of these opposites are connected in a circular harmony. Good harmony is when there is good health, weather, and fortune, while bad harmony is evident when there is bad weather, luck, health. Chinese medicine is all about restoring harmony in the body.

Under traditional Chinese medicine is Chinese herbalism. Chinese herbalism is one of the most ancient medical practices in Chinese history. It is a practice wherein Chinese people believe that herbs can be used to cure different diseases. It has been used throughout the history of China to heal the wounded from the opium wars, the Nanking massacre, to the Chinese civil war. The goal of herbal medicine is to let the body regain balance and strengthen its resistance to diseases. Herbs are used to regulate the natural balance of the body to restore health. This medication come in the form of pills, powders, or raw herbs used externally as balms. Herbal medicine can cure unhealthy body patterns that are shown through different symptoms and complaints. Generally, Chinese herbal medicine can be used to; decrease cold/flu symptoms, improve digestion, decrease pain, improve breathing, and rehabilitation.

In Ancient China, the most widely used way to apply herbal medications is by decoction, and by making honey-bound pills. A decoction is a strong tea that is brewed by simmering herbs for an hour or more. Both processes are deemed negatively in western countries. Brewing tea is too time-consuming, and mostly smelly and bad to the taste, while pills are too sticky and difficult to chew which does not justify its use.

This led to the development of modern forms of Chinese herbal preparations which are to extract powders then form granules, and by making easy-to-swallow tablets. Extracts are made by brewing decoctions the traditional way, then after the right formulation of the tea is finished, the water is removed from the solution producing powders or pellets. The powders are then either swallowed down with water or mixed with hot water to make tea. The capsules, on the other hand, contain either powdered herbs or dried extracts. It could also be made by combining both powdered herbs and dried extracts.

Today, different types of medications are being explored by the top minds in our world in order to find the cure for different chronic diseases the world is facing today. Herbal treatment is one of those sectors that is being studied. Practitioners tend to lean on Chinese herbal remedies because of the vast experience the Chinese have with their herbs. China has large schools that teach traditional Chinese medicine and teaching hospitals where a lot of people go to each year to gain knowledge and experience. Doctors from China have come to western countries to share experiences about Chinese herbs.