Chinese Herbal Medicine Therapy in London

Chinese Medicine is a long standing system, or systems of traditional medical practice and was the most advanced in the world until the late 19th century. It does encompass a number of different practices and theories which you can read about here.

Chinese herbal medicine

Herbal medicine has been used to treat a wide variety of illnesses the world over, with evidence of use from ancient Egypt and India through Europe and the Americas. It is the source of many pharmaceuticals in use today including aspirin and digitalis. Wheras the drug attempts to isolate the active compound, a herbalist uses the whole plant, so in some cases may benefit from a wider range of pharmacokinetic effects.

pink roses growing over walkway at Kew gardens with blue skyThe Chinese system has been established and related to medical theory from at least 200AD, and used in the treatment of symptoms from at least 200BC, possibly earlier. Prescriptions of a number of herbs are given for an identified 'pattern of disharmony'. Through its history Chinese medicine has evolved and adapted to changing clinical conditions and this process continues today with pharmacological and clinical research informing practice.

It is thought that this combining is important to the effectiveness of herbs as some combinations make the pharmacological components more active, or reduce side effects. Some research supports this idea. This process allows the herbalist to tailor a prescription to the individual pattern of the person rather than purely by a biomedical diagnosis. Herbal medicine aims to correct internal imbalances based on the traditional ideas about health rather than just treat symptoms.

Taking Chinese Herbs

The herbs can be supplied in various forms, raw herbs that need to be cooked up daily at home, or powdered granules of herbal extract which can be dissolved in hot water are the most common types I use. It is also possible to get the formula made into tablets at extra cost, or patent pills of standard herbal formulae are also available.

Some people are put off by the taste of the herbs which can be quite bitter (depending on the prescription) but most people get used to it quite quickly, and certain formulas are actually quite nice... Really.

The RCHM plays this role for herbal medicines and members ensure that herbs are only obtained through an approved suppliers scheme where products are quality controlled and free of dangerous substitutions, adulterants and contaminants. This safeguards against people being made ill by Chinese medicine, which unfortunately still happens occasionally since the practice is not yet regulated in the UK and contaminated products still find their way into the market giving Chinese medicine a bad name. Duncan is also a member of the RCHM council helping in this work.