Updated: Feb 16
Chinese Herbal Medicine originated thousands of years go and has been passed down through the generations. It is still widely used in China alongside western medicines.
Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) has a fascinating history and the books and articles that we still use today date back thousands of years. The Huang Di Nei Jing (Nei Jing), one of the most important classical texts of traditional Chinese medicine, is the foundation upon which today's Chinese medicine principles are built. The dates are a little ambiguous but 300BCE is about right!
Herbal combinations are prescribed to correct disharmonies within the body, the ingredients are specifically matched to the imbalance ensuring that treatment is individually tailored. Most prescriptions are given to be taken as a tea. Traditional Herbal Medicine is the source for many of modern Western medicines which usually isolates the active compounds(1). CHM uses the leaf, or stem or root of the plant therefore gaining more pharmacokinetic effects – Artemisinin which is now used to treat malaria is one of the most famous herbal remedies available. (To read more about Artemisinin and its use for the treatment of malaria, see reference (1) below).
Is it safe?
There are very few adverse reactions from CHM and its safety record is excellent. If you decide to take herbal medicine you will be carefully monitored to ensure that you do not experience any unusual reactions. The herbal medicine suppliers are strictly monitored and follow a strict code of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). GMP is implemented in China as the gold standard of quality assurance for Chinese medicines. It ensures that facilities used to process herbal products adhere to and meet strict quality processes.
I am a member of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine which regulates the practice of CHM. Members are subject to a code of practice, a dispensary code and undergo regular Continuous Professional Development. All practitioners are fully insured.
Do you use animal products?
The RCHM has always condemned the illegal trade in endangered plant and animal species. Strict rules are in force, which prohibit the use of any material of this description by RCHM members. The UK also has a restriction in place forbidding the use of any animal product. My clinic supports the work of Animals Asia which is devoted to ending the barbaric practice of bear bile farming.
What do they taste like?
Many herbs are sweet and very pleasant, but some herbs are bitter and don’t always taste that great! However, you do quickly get used to the taste and will find that you enjoy your herbal tea. Herbs that can be found in culinary use such as cinnamon ginger and liquorice are regularly prescribed.
How long will I need to take herbs for?
The length of treatment will vary greatly depending on the condition. Anything between one and six months would be common, though in certain cases treatment outside this range may be suggested.
How much does it cost?
Your consultation will take approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. The initial consultation fee for Herbal Medicine is £100. Follow ups are £30 for 30 minutes. The average cost of a two week prescription is £30. This works out at the same cost as a cup of coffee per day.
1, For a fascinating look at how Chinese Herbal Medicine has transitioned to Westernised scientific drug discovery, see the 2017 research paper, ‘Innovating Chinese Herbal Medicine: From Traditional Health Practice to Scientific Drug Discovery’, by Shuo Gu and Jianfeng Pei.