The effectiveness of herbal medicine continues to astound me.
I mean, it probably shouldn’t at this point given how often I get to see it work, but it still does. Whenever I use herbs with patients at the clinic or at home with my kids and family, it is just amazing how well they can work.
With that being said, there is more nuance to effectively using herbal medicine as compared to pharmaceuticals – herbs are not one-size-fits-all.
This is also why herbal medicine tends to have less side effects; the herbs you use should be specifically chosen based on your current needs.
The key is to start using herbal medicine early.
There is a concept in Chinese Medicine that compares the body to a fortress.
Your immune system makes up your body’s defenses and it has different lines of defense that “external invaders” (ie. pathogens) try to pass through to make you sick.
You will generally have more severe symptoms the deeper the external invaders are able to penetrate into your body, so it is essential to treat acute issues quickly before they have a chance to get deeper.
This is when herbs can be the most useful.
Using herbs at this stage is like giving your first line defenders shiny new weapons to fight off the external invaders. Given the appropriate weapons, your immune system can fight back the invaders before they get deeper into your body and cause more problems.
This theory is applicable for nearly all acute issues. Start taking herbs at the first sign of cold, flu, allergies, hangover, food poisoning, nausea, cramping, acid reflux, constipation, skin issues, etc. You can also use herbs early and often for acute pain situations; at the onset of a migraine, headache, acute back ache, muscle strain, ankle sprain, etc.
Plan ahead by considering what you will likely need so you can take the herbs quickly at first onset of symptoms. Do you have peri-menstrual symptoms every month? Have the appropriate herbs on hand so you can take them to modulate and improve cramping, irritability, breast tenderness, bloating, and low energy.
Herbal medicine is highly effective.
You just need to know some basics in pattern recognition to safely and effectively use a range of herbal formulas. Having a few herbal formulas at home can make an enormous difference in how often you have symptoms and how severe they become.
Work with a licensed acupuncturist to determine the patterns you most commonly exhibit and which herbal formulas you could benefit from having in your home medicine cabinet.