I have been studying vitamins, nutritional supplements and Chinese Herbal Medicine since the 1970's when my father became interested in alternative forms of medicine. He was seeking another way to treat his asthma than the medications which gave him unwanted side effects. I went along and visited Naturopaths, chiropractors, Kinesiologists and Acupuncturists. Each had their own diagnostic methods. Some looked at the eye(Iridology) some tested muscles(Kinesiology) and others listened carefully to the symptoms of imbalance.
After studying various alternative methods of medicine, I settled on Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine because 1) my own experience found this method most helpful 2) thousands of years of history as a primary form of healthcare provided a wealth of knowledge and experience that I felt I would never tire of participating in. 3) I wanted a medicine that could treat many internal diseases effectively in addition to muskuloskelatal diseases.
As the 70's 80's and 90's rolled by, more and more people were coming in with more and more supplements. Each decade seemed to produce a series of discoveries about particular nutrients that would be bottled and sold as individual miracle cures. And for sure nutrients and supplements can play a role in health, but how many can a person safely take? In what combinations does this make sense? If a person is continually revolving supplements how effective can they be? In my view, vitamin supplementation in this way is a big experiment on human kind. Don't get me wrong, I am not against nutritional supplements per say. However I do think that people may get overwhelmed by the amount of information as well as the amount of supplementation that they are subjected to. Consider this then - 3 of the leading herbalist in the early part of the first Millennium lived to be over 100 years old with no supplementation whatsoever besides Chinese herbs and food. Of course the world was purer, the food more nutritious and lifestyles had different challenges than ours today. Still Acupuncture, exercise, correct diet, herbal medicine and of course spending some time doing what we love can go a long way to us leading fulfilling, productive lives.
But why does Chinese medicine offer a different and often complete healing methodology? Because in part it is working to rectify the bodies own physiology. Many medications work to replace substances that are absent or scant in the body. We replace insulin with insulin, progesterone with progesterone, and B12 with B12. We want to find herbs that have estrogen in them or stimulate progesterone production or take B12 because we don't have enough. This is all of course, fine and one way of treating the body. But the problem is that as one concentrated supplement enters the body it changes how the body works and if the original problem for why the body is not working properly is not corrected the body will eventually find itself once again out of balance.
This is why I practice Chinese medicine. It Balances the body in order to function top notch.
While I am supportive of some nutritional supplementation, I find that people come in with bagfuls of things that they take at irregular intervals, and become confused about when to take what. Furthermore, many folks are taking medications. How do these medications metabolize in the body and how does that effect nutritional supplementation and visa versa. How many pills is too many? Chinese Herbal Medicine can be taken as liquid, thereby not adding to the handful of pills already taken. Acupuncture may help the body to optimize assimilation of medications and supplements there by reducing needed dosages or simply enhancing their effectiveness.
Generally speaking Herbal formulas can be taken as tablets, capsules, granules, concentrated tinctures or raw herbs boiled into a "Soup". We choose the best method for your condition taking all your considerations into account.
Initially an herbal/acupuncture regiment can require follow-ups every two weeks. This is because the body will change in response to treatment and so the herbal/acupuncture formula may also need to change in response. It is sort of a "Nudge and respond" process at least initially. We carefully and regularly assess the body for changes in order to tweek the treatment so the body remains in balance. As the body/mind/spirit heals, frequency of visits can be diminished and you may be given an maintenance herbal formula or a maintenance acupuncture schedule.
One of the biggest challenges to treatment is that people are used to being given a medication or a supplement and then taking it forever. Chinese Medicine responds as the body responds. and as such regular follow ups are necessary to maximize effectiveness.
So if, after reading this, you would like to try Chinese medicine, or if you are due for a follow-up, consider giving yourself that gift.
A warm and healthy winter to you!