Chinese herbal medicine has a history that dates back 3,000 years. The same herbs used today are mentioned in the old medical writings. Some of these classics include The Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di Nei Jing, ~26 BCE), The Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Eighty-One Difficulties (Nan Jing, ~106 CE), Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders (Shang Han Lun, ~206 CE) and Shennong’s Materia Medica (Shen Non Ben Cao Jing, ~220 CE).
Herbs consist mostly of plants and minerals. They are nature’s true medicine. The proper use of herbs will restore the correct functioning of the body after symptoms disappear. Herbs are powerfully potent and should be respected.
Thousands of herbs are used in Chinese Medicine, some of which have been adopted in the West because of their potency and successful results. But again, herbs shouldn’t be taken haphazardly, because symptoms alone, are not the sole determinant factor in knowing which herbs to take. There is more to it than symptoms, if you’re interested in fixing the root cause of a problem long-term. Who wants to take herbs for the rest of their life?
The radial artery pulse has 3 positions. These are known as the cun, guan and chi. The type of pulse presentation in addition to present symptoms along with the constitution of the patient determines which herbs are appropriate to prescribe.
Single herbs are not commonly used in Chinese medicine. This is especially true with the Taiwanese style of prescribing herbs, which often combine multiple formulas with each other. One formula can contain anywhere from two herbs to sixteen herbs or more. It can get very sophisticated but it is always specific. This is one of the many things that makes Chinese medicine unique. Nearly every possible disease scenario has been encountered throughout the millennia and its corresponding pulses and formulas have been documented in the classical Chinese medical texts.
The pulse is indeed the most important information when it comes to diagnosing a problem, disease or illness in terms of its pattern. Understanding the pattern of an illness is critical to fixing it.
Yin-Yang is a concept that represents two ends of a spectrum, such as cold-hot, female-male, inside-outside, dryness-dampness, excess-deficiency, etc. In Chinese medical theory, it is the breaking of this general balance which gives rise to different syndromes or diseases. A normal body temperature and blood pressure are two prime examples of the importance of that balance or homeostasis in the body- not too high or too low.
Herbs with “hot” properties are used to treat “cold” syndromes, and vice versa. For example, inflammatory conditions are usually considered “warm” syndromes. Allergies, can be warm or cold. The pulse will always reveal which one it is so that it can be treated appropriately.
Once the pulse is diagnosed, we know right away which herbs fix it. The goal with the herbs is to feel better quickly, but to also restore the pulse to normal so that the problem is cured and does not return. A normal pulse in all positions is tantamount to being in good health.
All in all, Chinese herbs are the cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine. As your health improves, so does your herbal prescription. Some herbs will no longer be needed, while others may be introduced. Once the pulse is fixed, the need for herbs disappears and health will continue.