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Chinese Herbal Medicine

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Chinese Herbal Medicine

Historical Overview
Herbs have been used by man for food and medicine for millennia. Herbalism around the globe originated in spirituality with shamans communicating directly with the spirit of the plants and bringing the wisdom of its medicine to the people. In China some of the earliest texts expounding the benefits and details of using these herbs date back more than 2000 years. Over time China has developed one of the most sophisticated and organized pharmacopeias in the world and their way of categorizing and utilizing herbs is now used around the globe. As the use of herbs in medicine has grown many scientific studies and analysis of herbs as well as epidemiological research of there long and short term effects on the body have been done. The comprehensive and brilliant use of herbs in Chinese Herbalism plays a major role not only in the daily cooking and eating of the Chinese population but also in China's modern medical system. As use of Chinese Herbs grows and as science uncovers more every day about their effectiveness in addressing many modern health concerns, Chinese Herbal Medicine is rapidly becoming the most utilized herbal system around the globe.

Treatment Method
Chinese Herbal Medicine seeks not only to treat the signs and symptoms one may be suffering but also sets out to create a greater overall balance in health in each individual. A Chinese Herbalist will take a patient’s health history, feel his pulse, look at his tongue, and ask him about him diet. They will then recommend a specific blend of various herbs to balance the patient’s unique constitution and address his health concerns. This formula may come in different forms: it could be in tablet or capsule form if the patient wishes to take the medicine as a pill, or it may be in powder or tincture form that that must be mixed with water. Alternatively, it could be in raw bulk form and cooked down into a tea. How long and what dosage to take depends on each individual’s constitution and the conditions being treated.  A good herbalist will also recommend some dietary changes as well because food is medicine and few things are more important than eating well.

Chinese herbs can be used to effectively treat many conditions including: high cholesterol, cancer, sinus congestion, sinus infection, bronchitis, cystitis, endometriosis, infertility, fatigue, asthma, depression, allergies, insomnia, PMS, arthritis, and menopause.  Individuals can also use Chinese herbs to promote longevity, prevent disease and strengthen immunity.

By using herbs under the guidance of a trained professional one can avoid many of the side effects and addictive properties of synthetic drugs. Herbal medicine can be taken much like vitamins and other daily supplements to promote good health and address serious health concerns. It is important to not self prescribe herbs, as misuse can result in unwanted side-effects. To get the most out of Chinese Herbal medicine it is best to consult with a well trained professional.

Provider’s Training
In order to sit for the Chinese Herbal exam by National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, (NCCAOM), providers must complete 660 hours of course work by a board certified school. Often the herbal training is part of a 3-4 year Master of Science degree by a board certified school in Chinese Medicine.

Credentials and Regulation Bodies
Accreditation for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is provided by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Presently very few states require that a Chinese herbalist pass a state exam. Thus many states presently don't require a license to practice herbal medicine, however that is slowly changing and soon it is likely more states will require full licensure and completion of exams.

A Diplomate of Chinese Herbology is a practitioner who is certified by the NCCAOM®. It is a considerable professional achievement to earn the designation Diplomate of Chinese Herbology (NCCAOM®). NCCAOM certification indicates to employers, patients, and peers that one has met national standards for the safe and competent practice of Chinese herbology as defined by the acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) profession. National board certification in Chinese herbology has been the mark of excellence in AOM since the Chinese Herbology Certification Program was introduced in 1996. Every certified NCCAOM Diplomate must abide by the NCCAOM® Code of Ethics.

Professional Associations
The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) is the main professional association for Chinese Herbalists to join.


Sessions from a Chinese Herbalist will include a consultation and a formula for herbs. On average, a consultation is $80-$125 and herbs will vary by the formula and amount.

To learn more about Chinese Herbal Medicine, visit the AAAOM or the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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