It was because I found Chinese herb use such a well formulated system that I went to Acupuncture school. The school I attended was considered the best Chinese herb school in California--the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. My interest in herbs started in college and has continued to this day. I wrote the first, and only (as of 3/2011) Chinese herbal repertory, The Chinese Herb Selection Guide , because no other book showed the relation between the patient's condition and the herbs that can help. Every other Chinese herb book is more a collection of monographs of herbs, perhaps broken down into their main groups.
Use of herbs: Traditional, Energetic, Bio-medical research-based
In a sense you can divide herb use into Traditional and in some cases, Energetic, application of herbs and a more clinical, research-based use. I tend to use all three, but am certainly swayed by a remarkable clinical trial showing some herb or herb mix that show significant effectiveness. Herbal and thus body-mind-spirit energetics is best addressed by a more traditional approach, then I modify the formula for the specific issue that I am treating. My background obviously stresses Chinese herbs and their energetic modality, but I regularly use Western and Ayurvedic herbs and am often looking at herbs coming from other traditions: Persian, Amazon rain forest, Mexican indigenous people, American Indian and others. Current Western medicine has a lot to learn from these traditional healing systems.
Bio-Medical compared to Informational effects of herbs
Herbs like almost any other form of healing have an intrinsic, bio-medical action and an informational based action. By adjusting dose, one can direct to what degree which aspect of the herbal formula is being expressed. For instance the Japanese Kanpo herbal system uses the Chinese Shang Hun Lun formulas, but in typically small, almost homeopathic doses. Since herbs more than Western bio-medicines can regulate the immune system, this "tweaking" of the body's physiology by subtle, "feather touches" can be a useful clinical modality. Likewise, giving enough herbs to cause a pharmacological reaction makes sense, too, for some cases.
In my case I try to take into account both the intrinsic physiological effects as well as the informational effects. One thing I do more now, is to check for and "pre-clear" the patient on any possible negative response to the herb. It is my desire to continue to learn about the energetics of herb use and I suspect I will spend the rest of my life learning from this deep well of Nature.
A general rule with herbs is that more is not better with herbs and taking herbs forever is not beneficial either (except for some adaptogens which work better the longer you take them).
In my practice I offer:
- Liquid Herbal Extracts (made by my own Phytotech company)
- Finely ground herbs in a "san" formulation--the least expensive way of getting the benefits
- Sometimes I use special ordered herb extract powders.
- Herbal extract pills from various manufacturers (my favorite is Medi-Herb, these people really know their herbs!)
- I have given up trying to get my patients to properly prepare a Chinese style "tang" or soup--too often the herbs just get burnt.
- Almost anything
- Immune system
- Infectious agents: bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic
- Auto-immune conditions
- Dermatological conditions
- Stress control
- Memory, Brain function enhancement
- Sexual Performance Enhancement
- Weight Loss