Chinese herbs, and other substances, such as shells, rocks, and salts, have been used for thousands of years to maintain and improve health. Every substance is said to have a taste, temperature, and a specific way in which it impacts the body. Together these qualities correct malfunction and optimize performance.
Every human body is made up of a specific dynamic that originates in the organs. No two people are alike. When I choose a Chinese herbal formula, I take into account the unique dynamics of that individual. This includes a person’s physical and emotional makeup, an assessment of which organs are having problems and how the problem has developed over time. This is rarely simple. The beauty of Chinese herbology is that it can be customized to every single person. Individualizing a formula often allows a person to get the most out of the herbs and will usually provide the fastest and most long-lasting results. There are also pre-made pills available that can be very effective, too.
My goal in prescribing herbs and food therapy is to optimize body function. For example, if someone is cold, I will prescribe warming herbs. Examples include Cinnamon Bark and Ginger root. If someone is experiencing pain, and I think it’s because the blood isn’t circulating well due to cold, perhaps I’ll give them a blood-warming herb. Cinnamon twig would be a good example.
Along with temperature, taste will also impact how an herb helps the body. Taste determines which organ an herb goes to and what it will tell an organ to do when it gets there. For instance, if an herb is bitter it will often “go to” the heart and improve the overall flow of blood in the heart as well as regulate its muscular function. An example of this (although it’s not a Chinese herb) is coffee. Coffee has a bitter taste, which is associated with the element of the heart, Fire. When you drink coffee, it increases your heart rate and causes your blood vessels to dilate. Although we don’t use coffee as an herb, we might consider using Cinnamon twig (combined with other herbs) for a similar effect.
Food has the same impact. All food in Chinese medicine has an inherent temperature and taste or, in some cases, multiple tastes. Some foods are warming and will generate heat in the body. Examples of these are chive and pepper. We use these to facilitate digestive function (by warming it up) and improve circulation in the lungs. An example of a cool food would be watermelon. This fruit is used in the summer to help maintain electrolyte balance and reduce internal heat in someone who is suffering from heat stroke.
By prescribing both Chinese herbs and dietary changes, a patient can fully benefit from comprehensive care. These changes are often simple to make and offer immediate benefits. Ready to talk about your herbal and dietary needs? Call me today.