ALANA POLLACK HAMMER
MS, Dipl.OM, LAC
WHAT TO EXPECT
Traditional Chinese Medicine makes use of a vast array of medicinal plants with antiviral, antibacterial and immunomodulating properties. Many Chinese remedies appear to have significant therapeutic value, and often work on conditions for which Western doctors have no pharmaceutical drugs.
When most people think of herbal medicine they think of Echinacea for boosting immunity, Gingko Biloba for memory, black cohosh for hot flashes, etc. Chinese herbal medicine is much more complex. A typical formula is made up of five to twenty-five different ingredients. Why so many ingredients? An individual herb often has multiple functions. For example, ginger can be used for shock, wheezing, urinary incontinence, strengthening the digestive system and some types of bleeding. Its function in a specific formula will hinge on the other ingredients that are present in the formula. For Chinese herbal medicine, the sum is definitely greater than the equal of its parts.
Chinese herbs may be used alone or with acupuncture as a complementary modality. They have shown their effectiveness under the scrutiny of both empirical study and modern clinical trials. Herbs may be used to accelerate the healing process while restoring balance to the body.
TREATING THE ROOT, NOT JUST THE BRANCH
Chinese herbal medicine differs from Western pharmaceuticals in important ways. The focus of most drugs is on treating symptoms. An antacid increases the pH of the stomach to relieve symptoms of heartburn. Proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec decrease the amount of acid made in the stomach. Symptoms will always come back when you stop using the drug. You have treated the branch, not the root of the problem. Chinese herbs give symptom relief, but the larger intent of the formula is to correct the underlying patterns causing the symptoms.
AVOIDING SIDE EFFECTS
Most western drugs use a single biologically active compound at concentrations beyond what would be found in nature. High concentrations create toxicity and side effects. There is an inherent wisdom to the natural world. For example, ginger has over 400 identified active compounds. These different compounds work synergistically to enhance ginger’s healing abilities and ameliorate side effects. Herbal medicine is grounded in this natural wisdom, blending plants, minerals, and other substances into unique, powerful and safe formulas.
I use patent, tinctures, and powdered formulas only from manufacturers committed to excellence and safety. Their production facilities meet international good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines. Testing is done on their products for the following contaminants: heavy metals, pesticides, sulfur dioxide, aflatoxins and aristolochic acid.