The unique characteristic of Chinese herbal medicine is the degree to which formulation is done. In other forms of herbal medicine, herbs are often delivered singly or combined into very small formulas of herbs that all have similar function.
In contrast, TCM herbalists and doctors rarely prescribe a single herb to treat a person. They create formulas instead that are tailored to meet the specific needs of a client based on his/her patterns of disharmony.
A formula may contain anywhere from 4 to 20 herbs that each have different actions, organ focus and functions. The beauty of this method of herbal prescription is that it employs multiple herb combinations, dealing with the condition from all sides and minimizing chances of negative side effects.
The herbs Dr. Ling prescribes are customized formulas, or modifications of time-tested formulas that have been used for centuries. Formulas are designed to treat the exact phase of the client’s condition, taking into consideration the person’s relative strength or weakness to maximize the chance for health success.
Dr. Ling delivers herbs as granulated herbal extracts, which are highly concentrated powdered extracts. These powders are made by first preparing the herbs as a traditional decoction. The decoction is then dehydrated to leave a powder residue.
She mixes these powders together for each client into a custom-tailored formula. Clients then mix their herbal powder in hot water to recreate the decoction. This eliminates the need to cook the herbs at home, while still retaining the original decoction’s potency.
Herbal medicine can be applied for any pattern of disharmony – excess or deficient, cold or hot, yin or yang, internal or external disorders. It can be used to weed and remove toxins from the body, or nourish root deficiencies.
However, of all the TCM modalities, herbal medicine is the most effective option when the primary treatment principle is nourishing the body to rebuild substance (such as blood, body fluid, all types of tissues, etc.). Using the metaphor of health as a garden, this is like giving fertilizer to soil and planting healthy new seedlings in a garden. This treatment principle is crucial for people with TCM patterns who are very deficient in energy, blood and all types of body fluids.
These patterns of disharmony include those with the following conditions or symptoms:
Diabetes Type 2, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, infertility, miscarriage, menopausal syndrome, night sweats (even long after women’s period has stopped), Parkinson’s disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, anemia, anorexia, eczema, hair loss, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune conditions, hypothyroidism, helicobacter pylori, chronic gastric ulcers, etc.
For more information on herbal medicine, read the article on Chinese Herbal Medicine – A Brief Introduction.
An important part of all treatment plans with Dr. Ling is dietary, or nutritional counselling, an adjunct treatment therapy. She provides detailed suggestions on which foods, food herbs, kitchen spices, teas, and methods of cooking are best for clients based on the conditions and TCM patterns they present with.
This guidance also includes detailed recommendations in lifestyle, exercise, and emotional health. All recommendations are given to match client’s constitution, condition, age, and level of commitment. Every client is accepted without question for where they are at, and at the same time gently encouraged to make whatever changes he or she can manage to do.
While changes in habits are not a pre-requisite for treatment, client’s active participation in implementing these recommendations can greatly enhance treatment results beyond the treatment visit, allowing clients to go longer between sessions and helping cultivate long-term better health.
This type of treatment, conducted through simple TCM consultation and assessment, is particularly useful for: pregnant women, people with skin disorders, chronic pain, or chronic, complicated, still unknown-caused illnesses where long-term health is a consideration.
For more information on dietary counselling, read the article on Using the 5 Flavours to Meet Your Body’s Needs.