Chinese herbal medicine is a powerful method of healing used for several centuries. The first pharmacology manual, a list of 365 remedies of which 252 of them were herbs (known as Shennong Bencao Jing), was created during the Han dynasty around 50 B.C. Since then, it have been developed and improved systematically.
Today, there exist roughly 7000 herbs, derived from all parts of plants: roots, leaves, stem, flowers, twigs and fruit, are today commonly used in Chinese medicine, with another 1000 animal or mineral ingredients (also classified within "herbs" category).
The employ of parts of endangered animals (like seahorses, rhinoceros horns, and tiger bones) has originated continuous debates and resulted in a black market of poachers who hunt protected animals. The majority of herbal companies have suspended the use of parts from endangered species.
Medicinal herbs are effective in preventing a large variety of diseases. Patients are re-diagnosed constantly during treatments (at least every week), and as the condition progresses the herbal prescription is modified accordingly.
Every herbal medicine remedy is a cocktail of many herbs adapted to the individual patient. Then the practitioner puts other ingredients to regulate the formula to the patient's yin/yang conditions, following the traditional diagnosis. Sometimes, ingredients are required to inhibit toxicity or side-effects of the principal ingredients. Unlike modern medicine, the balance and interaction of all the ingredients are regarded as more important than the effect of individual ingredients. In addition, Chinese herbs hardly ever cause unwanted side-effects.
Be aware that a lot of current drugs have been developed from Chinese herbs including the anti-malarial herb qinghao, or artemisinin, that has proved effective in treating chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria with minimum side-affects.
Chinese herbal medicine is successfully used for an ample range of conditions. Among the more frequently treated disorders are:
- Skin disease: eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, urticaria.
- Gastro-intestinal disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, ulcerative colitis.
- Gynaecological conditions: pre-menstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, infertility.
- Respiratory conditions: asthma, bronchitis, and chronic coughs, allergic and perennial rhinitis and sinusitis .
- Rheumatological conditions: dosteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Hepatitis and HIV.
- Urinary conditions, particularly chronic cystitis.
- Psychological problems, including depression and anxiety
- Chronic fatigue syndromes