Traditional Chinese Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions about this Ancient Art

Can this Ancient Art Help

 In the process of defending against diseases for thousands of years, Chinese herbal medicine has been developed and systemized based upon theoretical  principles as a means of both the prevention and treatment of illness and disease.

 A complex system of diagnostic methods take into consideration the person as a whole, not just isolated symptoms. A "pattern of disharmony" is discovered and treated accordingly.

 The aim, is not necessarily to eliminate or alleviate symptoms. The objective, rather, is to increase both the ability to function and the quality of life.

 The restoration of harmony is integral to Chinese herbal medicine.

Expressed in terms of the two complementary forces-yin and yang; and the five elements-fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. The five elements give rise to the five tastes by which all medicinal plants are evaluated. Fire gives rise to bitterness, earth to sweetness, metal to acridity, water to saltiness, and wood to sourness. Each taste is said to have a particular medicinal action; bitter-tasting herbs drain and dry; sweet herbs tonify and may reduce pain, acrid herbs disperse; salty herbs nourish the kidneys; sour herbs nourish the yin and astringe, preventing unwanted loss of body fluids or Qi. Herbs that have none of these tastes are described as bland, a quality that indicates that the plant may have a diuretic effect. The taste of a plant can also indicate the organ to which it has a natural affinity. Besides defining particular herbal tastes, the Chinese ascribe different temperatures to herbs-hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold.

 Each individual herb has different properties such as taste and temperature, and enters different organs in the body. When the herbs are combined, through mutual harmony, the treatment effect is increased and the side effects reduced. A usual prescription or formula can consist of multiple herbs.

 After a diagnosis is made, herbs are selected and combined, or a well-known traditional formula is prescribed. The formula is adjusted to fit the patient’s symptoms and diagnosis.

 The formula brings about the treatment effect by regulating Qi (Energy), blood and body fluids, which are fundamental substances that form the body. This gives total harmony and balance to the whole body, helping to correct and rebalance the flow of energy and consequently relieve pain and/or restore health.  When the flow of energy is blocked for any reason, there is disruption of health, resulting in pain and illness.  When the energy is released and regulated, health may be restored.

 Now for those

Questions & Answers About Chinese Acupuncture & Herbs

Herbal medicine is the main treatment method within Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM is the world's oldest, continually practiced professional medicine. Although acupuncture was the first Chinese method of treatment to gain wide acceptance in the West, Chinese herbal medicine, is quickly establishing itself as one of the most popular and effective alternative therapies. TCM written history stretches back over 2,500 years.

Q: Is there a difference between Western a nd Chinese herbal medicine?
A: Western folk herbalism primarily treats diseases or symptoms, such as headaches, runny nose, menstrual pain, etc. Chinese herbal medicine, is based on an individualized pattern diagnosis as well as a disease diagnosis. Your pattern is made up of your signs and symptoms, your emotional temperament and overall composition of your body. The TCM patient receives a custom written herbal prescription designed to treat their specific individual pattern as well as the common symptom or disease.

Q: Are there any other differences between Western and TCM Herbalism
A: Western folk herbalism usually focuses on one symptom or disease at a time and use only a single herb or same groups of herbs for treatment.

TCM formulas are crafted to treat your Entire Pattern as well as the symptoms or disease. TCM formulas may include four, six or up to eighteen herbs to treat the symptoms or disease as well as your specific pattern. The Happy Herbalist will custom mix and blend a formula specifically for your condition. Additionally we can package and label your formula in capsules, tea bags, tonics, elixirs, extracts of alcohol, glycerin, Willard Water or Kombucha. We can practically deliver them the next day! ( normally 2-3  day delivery)

Q: Are their benefits of drinking Chinese herb medicines in liquid form ?
A: This method allows the practitioner maximum flexibility in writing a prescription. They can put in just what is necessary in just the right amounts. The formula can be changed frequently, if necessary, and the liquid forms tend to be more potent than other means of administration

Q: What are the benefits of pills and powders?
A: Pills and powders are good for:

  • prolonged administration, like for chronic disease and the basic formula stays set and does not change very often

  • where formulas do not need to be very potent

  • for traveling and convenience 

Pills and powders are commonly used to continue therapeutic results after a successful treatment with a liquid decoction. There are literally thousands of pills, powders and Elixirs in the Chinese Material Medica. Let the Happy Herbalist Pharmacy seek out the best form for your specific needs.

Q: What about Standardized Herbal Products ?
A: Standardized Herbal Products are not natural herbs or herbal prescriptions in pill or capsule form. Standardization is a process whereby only one or two "active ingredients" of a herb are brought to a certain arbitrary concentration (ex. hypricin in St. John's Wort, Ephedrine in Ma Huang). The problem is that the rest of the plants constituents are usually not concentrated at the same time and this changes the balance of constituents that is found in the whole plant. Folks who standardize are overlooking the value of that balance, believing that all one's need is more of “the good thing”. That is why whole plants tinctures and extracts often have different results and less if any side effects than standardized ones. Standardized Herbal Products are run in larger batches and usually contain fillers, binders and other “stuff” that help extend shelf life. As “brand loyalty” grows competition especially with the “natural extracts” becomes limited.

Q: What about side effects?
A:. 1. Standardized extracts don't contain the whole plant or other ingredients that serve to buffer the negative affects of the active ingredients. Nowadays people have a tendency to believe that “more is better” thus overdosing creating a greater risk and harmful effects may happen. (ex. Ephedra and Pennyroyal). The FDA is now monitoring these “natural herbs” and have threatened to even take them off the market – or to get a doctors prescription !
2. When prescribed according to a correct TCM pattern diagnosis, natural herbs have few, if any, side effects, Compared to even common, over-the-counter Western drugs, TCM is safe and effective. If any discomfort your practitioner will modify the formula until there are no side effects.

Q: What is TCM good for?
A: TCM treats the full range of human disease. It is used to treat:
acute diseases like intestinal flu and the common cold chronic diseases such as allergies gynecological disorders autoimmune diseases and chronic viral diseases degenerative diseases due to aging.

Chinese herbal medicine is especially good for promoting the body's ability to heal and recover from childbirth, stress, illness and surgery. Most recently the N.I.H. , the US Gov’t and Canadian Gov’t recognized and recommended TCM as beneficial. Herbs are food and help build the body naturally.                                                        

Q: Can pregnant women and children take Chinese herbs?
A: Yes, professional TCM practitioners can write prescriptions that are appropriate for pregnant women and lactating mothers. TCM has been successfully treating peculiarities specific to women and birth for centuries.
A: Yes again. Pediatrics is a specialty within TCM and children can be given reduced dosages. There are also specially prepared pediatric medicines in pill and powder form. Chinese herbal medicine can treat colic, the fussiness of teething, earache, diarrhea, cough, and fever in babies and children.

Q: How long does it take to see results with Chinese herbal medicine?
A: In acute conditions; results may occur in a matter of minutes ... In chronic conditions, some results should be seen within two weeks however signs that the medicine is working should be apparent to the patient and practitioner alike almost from the very start.

Q: What is acupuncture?
A: Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the body at specific points. based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of Qi (Energy) and Cue (Blood) through distinct meridians or pathways that cover the body somewhat like the nerves and blood vessels do. According to ancient theory, acupuncture allows Qi to flow to areas where it is Deficient and away from where it is Excess. In this way, acupuncture regulates and restores the harmonious energetic balance of the body. In Chinese there is a saying, “if there is pain, there is no free flow:”

Q: What problems can be treated by acupuncture?
A: The World Health Organization has said that acupuncture benefits:
I. Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders Toothaches, pain after tooth extraction, ear-aches, sinus inflammation, nasal inflammation or dryness.
2. Respiratory Disorders
Uncomplicated bronchial asthma in children or adults.
3. Gastrointestinal Disorders
Digestive tract problems, hiccups, inflammation of the stomach, chronic duodenal ulcers, inflammation of the colon, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery caused by certain bacteria.
4. Eye Disorders
Inflammation of the conjunctiva, inflammation of the central retina, near sightedness (in children), and uncomplicated cataracts.
5. Nervous System and Muscular Disorders, Headaches, migraines, certain facial paralysis or nerve pain, partial weakness after a stroke, inflammation of nerve endings, bed wetting, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pain, knee pain, sprains, strains, and osteoarthritis,

TCM is recognized worldwide in treating many other problems, such as traumas both emotional as well as physical, and most gynecological complaints. While western medicine uses aspirin (from Chinese herbs -White Willow Bark) surgery, or poisons for women's disorders TCM has for thousands of years has helped build a better life naturally.

Q: How many acupuncture treatments will I need?
A: Patients often experience the most dramatic results in the first treatment. However treatment depends upon the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition or a series of five to fifteen treatments may resolve many chronic problems. Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time.
Acupuncture combined with Herbs and a balanced diet and lifestyle help one to live a long productive and healthy life.

Q: Does Acupuncture hurt?
A: No, not really. If your practitioner has obtained the correct stimulus of the needle, the patient should feel some cramping, heaviness, distention, tingling, or electric sensation either around the needle or traveling up or down the affected meridian, or energy pathway.

The Happy Herbalist style as in many traditional Chinese styles is bu tong, painless Some Western cultures may categorize these sensations as types of pain. In any case, if you experience any discomfort, it is usually mild.
However the sensation of pain remains quite subjective. Therefore we also offer other treatment metrologies -- such as Moxibustion, Cupping, Tui-Na, Qi Gong, and Magnetic Acupressure and Laser Acupuncture, where there is absolutely no pain or risk of infection.


Q: How deep do the needles go? Is it Safe ?

A: Yes, very safe. Needle insertion depends upon the nature of the problem, the location of the points selected, the patients size, age, and constitution, and upon the acupuncturist's style or school. Usually, needles are inserted from 1/4 to 1 inch in depth. Acupuncture needles are very very thin and flexible. Nerves, blood, and lymph vessels are elastic and quite easily move out the way. The Happy Herbalist uses Only sterilized, individually packaged, disposable needles. This eliminates the possibility of transmitting a communicable disease by a contaminated needle. And you may prefer to use LASER ACUPUNCTURE. However in the United States this procedure is experimental only and NOT FDA approved - except under one of the FDA approved clinical trials.  The California Acupuncture Board which oversees licensing and education of acupuncturists in California has approved its use and considers it within a duly educated acupuncturists scope of practice.

presented by

Ed Kasper L.Ac, Acupuncturist & Herbalist

417 Laurent St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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