Chinese herbal formulas are given a place in Chinese medicine at the core of medical knowledge and its treatment schedules. When we subdivide the human body into its various systems (nervous, hormonal, lymphatic, muscular and cardio vascular) that help generate life we must conform treatment to benefit these systems. This will give us a multi-disciplinary approach to improvement of our body.
Likewise, Chinese herbal formulas are made up from a combination of herbs. The formula may have originated as smaller formula such as two or three herb formula or can be additions to existing formula to create new formulas. These changes are an attempt to treat the ever-changing progression to pathology leading to new or advanced medical conditions.
With over 150 to 200 different common formula it is a task to understand which formula is best to suit which condition. We also have to keep in mind of any medications that are being used for the patients presenting condition and the use of certain classes of herbs that can produce side effects if given for an incorrect rational.
The theory to match the pathology of a condition to the property or effect on the human body by a herb, the location in the body best helped by a herb and the constitution of the patient is the basis for prescription. For example if a person suffers from stiff or dryness in the neck muscles we can use a formula that contains a herb (usually the primary or the first herb found in the formula list) for moistening the neck. The same herb may be found in other herbal formula but as a lower or less rating herb in the formula such as a secondary herb, conducting herb or a harmonizing herb. When this is evident then the primary herb is always the major or most necessary herb in a formula while the other herbs have specific roles and titles in a formula. This specific foundation is necessary to enforce the best-desired outcome for a patient. Herbs are selected on this criteria and formula are prescribed to reverse or diminish harmful pathologies.
So we have the general criteria for the selection of a formula. Match the pathology of a condition to the property and site of best improved by a herb. With this understanding we can then venture into the realm of over 2000 year trial and error to come out today and prescribe formula known for the beneficial activities in our bodies with small or slight detrimental side effect’s. This is what is called a synergist action to the human body.
All of this knowledge is only useful if we put it into context. The contest we need is the Differentiation of Syndromes found in the basic foundations of Chinese medicine. In a layman’s words, the commencement of symptoms and signs/the bodies reaction. This equation will lead to the eventual presentation of diseases and their counterproductive health outcomes.
Your initial consultation will include a history of current symptoms and signs as well as any medical conditions diagnosed by your GP or other medical practitioner. The objective of this assessment is to assess your current physiological status so as to administer a herbal formula to match the diagnostic criteria.
Best to bring your medical tests and examination results for assessment. Most patients have already been given a diagnosis or have been to practitioners and have not achieved the satisfactory result they need. This is why we will need to compare your current medical diagnosis to the most recent tests and treatment strategies you have tried.
People who need medical prescriptions are on the rise these days. Chinese herbs have a very good relationship with modern medications and are regularly prescribed in conjunction with each other in China’s hospital systems. The common mistake is to select the wrong class of herbs that will contain herbal ingredients that counteract the effect of the prescription. Selecting the right formula of herbs will not cause an antagonistic effect but will aid the medical prescriptions actions.
When a diagnosis of a certain disease or syndrome is given we must adhere to the medical advice and treatment given by the referring GP and consult the patient on how best to correct or diminish the severity of symptoms that are the most aggravating.
A patient suffering from pain in the abdomen caused by IBS where the pain is the most distressing symptom then we must first address the pain. When the pain is relieved by treatment we will address the next most distressing symptom such as abdominal distension, frequency of bowel motion, ongoing reactions to certain foods, stress aggravating factors, etc.
We also will look at the cause of a disease or the most common causes of a disease. Giving advice on this is an attempt to increase effectiveness of the herbal formula to generate improved health. An example is lifestyle, exercise, types of food to avoid, stress coping skills and body massage techniques to increase circulation. This advice though it may seem simplistic advice we must keep in mind the whole situation the patient is in.
Once the initial symptoms and signs are collected, the history of the patient recorded, the tests analysed and the patient comfortable that enough information is gathered we can then assess the direction the treatment will take.
Treatment strategies can vary from patient to patient so we need to give you a general idea how long it will take for a given treatment. The general rule is one month of treatment for each month of the disorder either presenting or taking to develop. So we can safely say a person surrering from IBS for the past 12 months with a history of abdominal pain with out diagnosis for 2 years will take 3 months of herbal treatment to stabilize the condition or decrease the symptoms.
Irregularities can happen and often do when assessing deterrent people with similar or the same problem. This is taken into consideration in our treatment strategy. The saying “no two people are alike” is a good comparison to this thinking.
Fortunately part of our diagnostic skill is to be able to differentiate these categories. Similar to a psychologist who will assess depression in a patient the psychologist knows not all types of depression have the same cause. Likewise not all IBS patients can be treated with the same formula for a successful treatment outcome.
An example is the way we react to stress. People react differently to stress. Some have no hunger when suffering stress while others compensated by emotional eating. One-person’s digestive system is empty while the other person could be said to have food retention present. Even though both patients are diagnosed with IBS we cannot give the same herbal formula for the correct treatment rational to occur.
This is the basis of diagnosis, the ability to differentiate the underlying pathology of patients with the same medical diagnosis. In other words different people have different causes for the same condition.
Once we have done our assessment we can then approach a strategy for treatment. As a general rule conditions with short duration such as common cold, sore throat, acute abdominal pain have a short treatment. When a disease is presented such as diabetics then a longer treatment will be required to improve the symptoms and signs.