Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal MedicineThe first reference to the Chinese using herbs dates back nearly 5000 years. There is a vast repertoire of herbal medicine textbooks that have been revised and supplemented over the centuries. In more recent times there has been an increasing amount of biomedical research  into the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicines. Increasingly, Chinese herbs are being used in association with treatment provided by GP’s and other health care providers. Chinese Herbal medicine can be of benefit in helping to alleviate some of the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

There are a number of ways that Chinese herbs can be prescribed. A Chinese herbalist diagnoses according to traditional methods and puts together a prescription to suit individual needs.  Traditionally a combination of 10-20 dried herbs is boiled together and the resulting decoction taken daily. Although very effective, such decoctions are often very bitter and strong tasting – sometimes a deterrent for the Western palate. Herbs are also available as freeze dried granules or in pill or capsule form which may be easier for Westerners to accept. The benefit of the individual prescription of raw dried herbs is that it can be adapted to exactly meet the needs of the patient and is usually considerably stronger therefore more efficacious more quickly. There are likely to be fewer side effects from individually prescribed formulae.

Herbs imported into New Zealand are subject to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Customs requirements. Any herbs which are on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list are unable to be brought into the country unless specifically grown for commercial purposes and not gathered from the wild. Patent herbs (freeze dried, pills and capsules) from reputable sources are manufactured according to stringent health and safety guidelines regarding heavy metal or pesticide contamination. Many of those available in New Zealand have already met regulatory requirements in Australia (TGA), United States of America (US FDA) or Germany (PIC GMP).

Chinese Herbal Medicine can be used on its own or in combination with Acupuncture treatment.