Not so long ago, you might have found a chemist working behind the scenes in pharmacies to make medicine for each patient by mixing the different chemical compounds needed to form a pill. In the recent age of immediate relief and efficiency, the idea of the “one-size-fits-all-pill” was developed. In this way, pharmaceutical companies manufactured a single pill that would work really well for a number of related symptoms. The downside of this mass production is that it eliminated the chance for customized pharmaceuticals.
Often times today if you are taking one pill that gives you a side effect, doctors prescribe a second or third medication to reduce those effects. In contrast, Chinese medicine stays true to the original concept of customized medicinals for each patient. By creating a formula specific to one individual, based on his or her constitution, the chances of unwanted side effects are greatly reduced. Furthermore, they target the specific health concerns of the patient rather than blanketing over a range of symptoms. Chinese herbs can address multiple imbalances in the body. Sometimes these symptoms may seem completely unrelated in a Western mindset, but could actually all be results of a singular imbalance.
Often times, pharmaceuticals, specifically antibiotics, can disrupt your natural gut flora and probiotics in your stomach. This can cause irritation in the digestive tract. Because Chinese herbs are made for your specific constitution, they tend to be less harsh on your weakest organs and work to tonify any deficiencies. Another concern with pharmaceuticals, namely narcotics, is the powerful threat of addiction that they carry. For this reason, many recovering addicts are fearful of taking painkillers. Chinese herbs are non-addictive!
Chinese herbs work by balancing the body. If there is pain, the herbs will not only dull the pain, but also will address the blockage and work to restore a free flow of Qi. For internal diseases, the herbs will address what organs are out of balance- sometimes eliminating dampness or dryness in order to get the body functioning properly. For these reasons, Chinese herbs take time! Depending on your condition, your practitioner may set up a plan for you in which the herbs you take change every week or two until the problem can be fully resolved. Each different formula works on a separate layer of the disease mechanism. In this way it addresses each layer one at a time in order to hopefully resolve the root issue.
Pharmaceuticals are extremely important in our healthcare system. The advent of antibiotics in 1935 was one of the greatest discoveries of our time and it is crucial that we keep them available for the years to come. We are currently facing a crisis of overuse of antibiotics that is leading to greater drug resistance. This means that our bodies are being selective in which antibiotics will work and which we have already built a resistance to (perhaps from over exposure or improper use of antibiotics). Using Chinese herbs preventatively and when initial health concerns are noticed will help reduce the rate of drug resistance and allow our antibiotics to work better for longer!