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Herbal Pharmacy and Oils

Mountain Spirit Acupuncture has a full herbal pharmacy to compliment our acupuncture services. Herbal medicine is the main modality or treatment method within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Stretching back at least 2,500 years, TCM is one of the world's oldest, continually practiced, professional medicine. While acupuncture was the first Chinese treatment method to gain wide acceptance in the West, Chinese herbal medicine is quickly establishing itself as one of the most popular and effective alternative therapies in the West.

We invite you to learn more about the benefits of herbal medicine through our frequently asked questions below.


What's the difference between Western folk herbalism and Chinese herbal medicine?

Chinese herbology is a system of herbal treatment that is not applied in the way that most herbs and medicines are used in our Western world. For example, all medicines (including herbal medicines) under western schools of thought are used because they are known to produce certain effects. St. John's Wort and Prozac are used for depression because they are both known to counter depression in the human body. Chinese Herbal Medicine was developed as an integral part of Chinese Medicine. It is used to re-harmonize imbalances in the body. Therefore, a cough would not be treated by choosing an anti-tussive alone. It must first be determined where the cough is coming from through an individualized pattern of diagnosis, and then the appropriate group of herbs would be combined to treat the problem. A TCM pattern identifies a person's emotional temperament and bodily constitution as well as their signs and symptoms.


Are there any other differences?

Western folk herbalism primarily uses single herbs or groups of herbs that treat the same symptom or disease for everyone. TCM formulas include 6-18 herbs and include herbs addressing a person's main symptoms as well as their particular pattern.


Are all “herbs” vegetable in origin?

Although called Chinese herbal medicine, TCM practitioners use ingredients from all three kingdoms: vegetable, animal, and mineral. However, the majority are from vegetable sources. Leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, roots, tubers, rhizomes, and barks are some of the many vegetable parts used.


Do all the herbs come from China?

15-20% of the standard Chinese repertoire of 500 ingredients originated from outside China. The Chinese have adopted and incorporated into their materia medica herbs from all over the world. What makes these “Chinese” herbs is that they are prescribed according to Chinese medical theory and TCM pattern diagnosis.


Do Chinese herbs work for Western patients?

Yes, empirical evidence has proven that Chinese herbal medicine works for Westerns just as well as for Chinese. Chinese herbal medicine has been used successfully in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and throughout Asia.


How are Chinese herbs taken?

The most common method of taking Chinese herbal medicine is as a decoction. This means that the herbs are boiled for 30 minutes to an hour and then strained and drunk 2-3 times per day. However, there are also herbal pills, tinctures, and powdered extracts for those who do not have the time or taste for traditional decoctions.


What are the benefits of drinking Chinese herbs in decoction?

This method allows the practitioner maximum flexibility in writing a prescription. They can put in just what is necessary in just the right amounts. The formula can be changed even on a daily basis if necessary, and decoctions tend to be more potent than other means of administration.


Why do herbal decoctions taste so bad?

Chinese herbal teas tend to taste very bitter because they are made mostly from roots and barks where the strongest medicinal ingredients are found. If the formula is correctly written, the bad taste should go away after 1-2 days. After that time, the patient may even crave the taste. This shows that the medicine is working.


Does Chinese herbal medicine have side effects?

No, not if the formula has been correctly chosen and written. Most of the medicinals in the Chinese materia medica have a very low toxicity compared to common, over-the-counter Western drugs. When they are prescribed according to a correct TCM pattern diagnosis, they should have no side effects, only beneficial healing results. If a patient experiences any discomfort while taking Chinese herbs, they should tell their practitioner, who will then modify their formula until there are no side effects.


What is Chinese herbal medicine good for?

Chinese herbal medicine treats the full range of human disease. It treats acute diseases, like intestinal flu and the common cold, as well as chronic diseases, such as allergies, gynecological disorders, autoimmune diseases, chronic viral diseases, and degenerative diseases due to aging. In particular, Chinese herbal medicine is especially good for promoting the body's ability to heal and recuperate.


Can pregnant women take Chinese herbs?

Yes, if prescribed by a professional TCM practitioner. Chinese herbal medicine has been used for more than 2,500 years to treat greater than forty diseases and symptoms occurring during pregnancy without harm to the fetus. Likewise, lactating mothers can take Chinese herbal medicine safely as long as they are prescribed by a trained practitioner.


Can children take Chinese herbal medicine?

Yes. Pediatrics is a specialty within TCM, and children are given smaller doses. There are also specially prepared pediatric medicines in pill, powder, and liquid form. Chinese herbal medicine can treat colic, the fussiness of teething, earache, diarrhea, cough, and fever in babies and children.


How long does it take to see results with Chinese herbal medicine?

In acute conditions, results can be expected in a matter of minutes. In chronic condition, some results should be seen within two weeks. Although chronic conditions may require taking Chinese herbal medicine for a long time, nonetheless, signs that the medicine is working should be apparent to the patient and practitioner almost from the very start.


How do I know if a practitioner is professionally trained in Chinese Herbal Medicine?

In some states, such as California, all acupuncturists must pass a licensing test that includes Chinese herbal medicine. In addition, the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) has created a certification process for Chinese herbal medicine. Practitioners who have passed that certification process are entitled to add the abbreviation Dipl. C.H. For Diplomate of Chinese Herbology after their name. If they have been certified in both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine they may append Dipl. O.M. (Diplomate of Oriental Medicine) after their name. Although Chinese herbs are safe when professionally prescribed by a trained, knowledgeable practitioner, they are strong medicine nevertheless. Therefore, it is important that a practitioner be adequately schooled and experienced in their use. A prospective patient should feel free to ask about the training and credentials of a potential practitioner.