Native cultures all over the world have traditionally used herbs to maintain health and treat illnesses. Chinese herbal medicine developed with Chinese culture from tribal roots. By 200 BC, traditional Chinese medicine was firmly established, and by the first century AD, a listing of medicinal herbs and herbal formulations had been developed.
Herbal medicine uses a variety of herbs, in different combinations, to restore natural balance to the body and health in general. Herbalists claim that taking them as tinctures or tea builds up the body, so that it fights off ailments and heals itself.
Can herbal medicine help?
Most herbalists do not claim to cure cancer. They use herbal medicine along with the conventional treatment such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy. They believe that herbal remedies can help alleviate the side effects of conventional cancer treatments, ease pain, strengthen the immune system and improve the patient's overall quality of life.
You should always check with you specialist doctor before deciding to take any herbal medicine. Never take it without your doctor knowing. As there is a great variety of herbs and their combinations, it is difficult to comment on the effect of herbal medicine as a whole. Some herbal medicines may bring benefits to the patient however, other may contain substances that may be harmful to some people with the diagnosis of cancer.
What does it involve?
Before choosing a mixture of herbs for a patient, the traditional Chinese practitioner will typically ask about symptoms and examine the patient, often focusing on the skin, hair, tongue, eyes, pulses, and voice, in order to detect imbalances in the body.
Chinese herbal remedies are made up of one or two herbs that are said to have the greatest effect on major aspects of the problem being treated. The other herbs in the formula treat minor aspects of the problem and help the other herbs work more efficiently.
With the increase in popularity of herbal use, many Chinese herbs are sold individually and in formulas. In some countries, Chinese herbs and herbal formulas may be purchased in health food stores, some pharmacies, and from herbal medicine practitioners.
You can get more information about registered practitioners from the National Institute of Medical Herbalists or the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine.