Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Herbs And The News

Ed over at the Tao of Politics sent me a few links related to herbology this morning. In regards to the link about some herbal medicines causing liver damage, I have this to say.

Number one, two cases does not an epidemic make. They conveniently don't mention all of the documented cases of drug interactions and deaths caused by western medications. Number two, one of the reasons why you go to see a licensed acupuncturist is because we are trained and tested regarding interactions and appropriateness of herbal care. Any competent practitioner should know that you NEVER prescribe liver qi movers to a compromised patient. Ever. This is one of the many reasons that I object to vitamin and herb stores such as GNC or drugstores selling single herb capsules. We have very few single herb formulas and they are for emergencies.

Not every herb is appropriate for every person. A proper herbal formula can cause as much harm as the prescription the western doctor gives you. Herbs should only be prescribed after a full intake which includes how you eat, sleep, fart, crap, sweat, dream, your favorite flavor, sex drive and that's just for starters.

While in school I helped give an herbal presentation to the San Diego Hospice and the whole intent was to show them that they couldn't just keep a few prescriptions on hand and then use them whenever they thought it was appropriate because a few symptoms matched. Two hours later they had agreed with us because it is much more involved than it looks on the surface.

Yes, cinnamon will help regulate diabetes, if you happen to be one of those people who are cold, sluggish and have a tendency to retain water. But, it needs to be the bark of the cinnamon, not the twigs and leaves. There is a difference. Ginger is another example. Fresh, it is used to relieve the surface (make you sweat). It harmonizes the digestion and helps to prevent damage from other herbs in a prescription. Dried ginger is extremely hot and is only used medicinally for a few formulas, most of which involve cinnamon. Both of these herbs are considered to be very tonifying to the kidney and are used to build energy. But if you happen to run warm already and find it difficult to keep still these two herbs will ramp you up and make you very uncomfortable.

Mushrooms (the ones that end in ake) have been used for many centuries because they tonify the system. One of the ways that Chinese Medicine attacks disease is by supporting the healthy and encouraging the rest of the system to do a better job. We have toxic herbs that are only used under certain circumstances and for an extremely short period of time. Gingko biloba springs to mind. It is used in our major asthma formula and we recommend a period of six weeks at a time, then you should take a break. Don't even get me started on ma huang and how it has been abused by the dieting craze.

Japan also has a high rate of stomach cancer and for the same reasons. Pickled and smoked foods. They may taste good but just like anything else, moderation is the key.

Well, that woke me up, didn't it?

Crossposted at Big Brass Blog.

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