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Chinese Herbal Medicine

What is Herbal Medicine?

  • The use of certain parts (root, leaf, flower) of different plants, usually combined into a formula, to treat certain symptoms or diseases.

History of Herbal Medicine

  • Has been used by the Chinese for over 3,000 years
  • Was first discovered by Shen Nong (approx. 3600 B.C.)
  • He discovered the medicinal effects of plants by tasting them and associating their clinical effects
  • He was the first to realize that the taste of an herb relates to it’s effects

How does taste relate to effect?

  • Taste relates to the effects of an herb because the chemical nature and composition are what create the taste
    • Example: the nutritive substance vitamin B12 has a sweet type taste. While not an herb, most nutritive, yin-tonifying herbs will have a sweet taste, thus indicating their effect
    • Example: coffee tastes bitter. Coffee has draining (makes you pee) and moving effects. Herbs that drain and move are often bitter
    • Certain groups of chemical compounds have been determined to have certain tastes, i.e. alkaloids and glycosides taste bitter, and carbohydrates, amino acids, and vitamins tend to taste sweet. The chemical composition then relates to the effect in the body.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why does the doctor want to look at my pet’s tongue and feel his/her pulse?
    • This is done to help the doctor determine the imbalances in your pet. Many conditions affect the quality and strength of the pulse and many conditions will affect the shape, color and/or coating of the tongue. This information is important to help ensure an accurate TCVM diagnosis.
  • How long will my pet need to stay on the herbal supplement once he/she is put on it?
    • This will vary based on your pet’s age, the condition and imbalance(s) being treated, and your pet’s progress. Some herbal supplements are continued for life, usually decreasing to a very small dose for maintenance. Some supplements may only be needed for 1-6 months.
  • Is Herbal Medicine Safe?
    • Yes, herbal medicine can be very safe . . . when certain guidelines are followed
    • These guidelines include:
      1. Making sure that the company from which you are purchasing abides by GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices)
      2. Making sure that the doctor is aware of any and all medications and supplements that your pet may be taking
      3. Making sure that the doctor is aware of all signs, symptoms, and history of your pet so that he/she can make an accurate diagnosis

**Side effects may still occur, but are usually mild gastrointestinal effects that are easily resolved once the herbal supplement is discontinued