supplements for insomnia

What Type of Herbs are Helpful for Sleeping?

No matter how much you crave quality shut-eye, there are many reasons sleep may elude you.

As you get older, it may take longer to nod off and you may have trouble staying asleep. But because the amount of sleep you need—seven to nine hours per night—stays the same throughout your life, fitful nights can leave you cranky, depressed and flat out exhausted. No wonder so many of us rely on sleeping pills—both over-the-counter and prescription.

People, even teenagers are relying on prescription sleep aids more than ever before. Yet, information of the risks of these drugs is often understated. A study by Scripps Clinic researchers links the medications to 4.6 times higher risk of death and a significant increase in cancer cases among regular pill users.

“What our study shows is that sleeping pills are hazardous to your health and might cause death by contributing to the occurrence of cancer, heart disease, and other ailments,” said author Daniel F. Kripke, M.D., of the Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego.

There is another option, a plant-based sleep aid that has been used for thousands of years and has no harmful side-effects.

Plants to help us sleep have been clinically tested in Asia for the past 50 years. Asian cultures have a much longer recorded history than our Western cultures and the use of plants has historical lineage to biblical times. Many herbal books were written on bamboo paper in ancient times. One such ancient book was titled “Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet”. It may surprise you, but even our ancestors had trouble sleeping and this was a thousand years before electricity, the internet, and modern-day stress. The most common prescription for sleeplessness which our Asian ancestors used was an herbal recipe called Suan zao ren tang. This combination of herbs can be found in iSleep Herb Pack.

 

The herbs in iSleep Herb Pack work together, this is known as the entourage effect, its where the magic happens. Throughout generations of use, our ancestors discovered which plants have similar effects and which have enhancing effects when used together. It’s a little bit like discovering sugar, flour, eggs and butter and baking powder can make a nice cake. Alone, they don’t taste like cake. But together, there is a little magic.

One of the main herbs in iSleep Herb Pack is zizyphus an herb with sedative properties. This herb is potentiated by other herbs in iSleep, notably Anemarrhena, poria and ligusticum which are believed to increase the nor-epinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain and increase secretion of two cytokines which have been shown to improve non-rapid eye movement sleep. The studies are vast, the results impressive. Throughout Asia, hundreds of thousands of herbal prescriptions are sold annually and the most common insomnia prescription is Suan zao ren tang / iSleep Herb Pack.

There are NO unnecessary filler or magnesium stearate in iSleep Herb Pack. Only 100% herbs from nature.

Here’s what’s you will find in iSleep Herb Pack:

Ziziphus
This little seed has a storehouse of vitamins, minerals proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, enzymes and more that are extremely beneficial for those suffering from sleeplessness. Clinical studies and research have shown Ziziphus, (when processed correctly) can help quiet brain transmissions. What this means for the non-sleeper who plays videos in their head all night or just can’t stop the overthinking, NOW YOU CAN. When your mind is quiet your body naturally falls asleep the way nature intended. Ziziphus has slight sedative effects, yet a very safe herb with no lingering side effects. It is commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for irritability, sleeplessness, and anxiety.

Ophiopogon
A nourishing but very mild herb. It is often combined with others for it’s most potent effects. Used in this formula to nourish the yin, clear the heart and eliminate irritability. Insomnia often occurs when the spirit of the heart is restless and rising upward to the brain. This restlessness cause over-thinking when we should be sleeping. Ophiopogon settles the spirit and quiets the irritability. It’s commonly combined with Anemerrhena for insomnia and night sweats.

Poria
Poria is most commonly to strengthen the spleen and calm the mind in TCM. Beyond poria’s principal action, this herb is also used to calm the heart spirit.

Anemerrhena
It is the root of this herb that has properties of clearing excess fire and at the same time nourishing the yin. These are two very important treatment principals and therefore makes this herb a prized possession. Its major chemical constituents include saponines, flavonoids, polysaccharides and alkaloids.

Arbortitae Seed
This seed is rich in oil and is excellent for insomnia due to blood deficiency along with excessive worry and forgetfulness. When used with zyziphus it’s actions for calming the spirit are increased. Since it is the oil in this seed which contains the active chemicals responsible for these actions it is essential the oils are not lost during the cooking process. It also nourishes the heart channel and is extremely beneficial for those suffering from sleeplessness and irritability because of its calming effect.

Polygoni Multiflori
Asian medicine says lack of nourishment to the heart causes sleep disorders such as difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep excessive dreams and disrupted sleep. This sweet herb addresses all of these symptoms. This herb calming effect is said to open the orifices of the heart channel and allow your spirit to be calm and relaxed.

Chuan Xiong
This very popular and common herb in many Chinese herbal medicine formulas is used to regulate blood circulation. In iSleep Herb Pack a small amount is used help circulate and improve the actions of all the herbs in the formula. The entourage effect is important. Like making a cake, it’s not just the sugar, flour, and butter. It’s the spices, the egg, the milk and all the other yummy things that make a cake so wonderful. Same is true of herbal formulas used for centuries. Certain herbs work better when paired together.

The bottom line, iSleep has some of the most important plants used for insomnia over hundreds of years. The major constituents and pharmacological activities of these plants have sedative effects which have been proven safe and effective for millions who commonly experience sleepless nights.

Our goal is to help you get a great night of sleep every night.
Sleep is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for a healthy body. Adequate sleep is essential for quality of life, work productivity, safe drivers, and workplaces etc.
We need to make sleep a priority every night.

natural remedies for flu and colds chinese herbs

Flu Stories – How to Survive and Thrive During The 2018 Flu Season

Survive the Flu with Natural Remedies

We have all experienced it or know someone who has been fighting off this year’s flu.

Officially called “Influenza A” and/or  “Influenza B”,  harmless sounding names. Yet, this is by far the worst flu we have ever seen. It reminds me of  Dr. Seuss naming “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”. Harmless names, yet they destroy your house in about a minute.

I personally have been spared with a few mild symptoms that I immediately abate using the items on “THE LIST” below.

My patients and family members have not all shared in my fortune. I’ve been taking care of many patients for weeks, and many have lingering symptoms, especially that nasty asthmatic type cough. I now have an entire arsenal of flu fighters in my kitchen. Beyond, the personal experiences, I belong to a number of online groups of various health professionals. The remedies and stories from these posts have broadened my treatments and opened my eyes to everything food and drinks, herbal combinations, essential oils and more. I have to admit, I’ve been a little addicted to reading the stories of ravaged flu patients and what’s working and what isn’t.

I decided to combine the hundreds of postings into “THE LIST” of what’s working in the Alternative & Natural Health care community for this years flu bug.

It helped me and I hope it will help you too.

This post would be a book if I went into all the benefits, actions and studies on each of the remedies below. Suffice to say, they WORK! Some items have references. Everything on “THE LIST”  is supported by both research and hundreds of real life use in the past and in the last 6 weeks. These are some of the best remedies for this years flu.

Thank you to all of my fellow practitioners for sharing your stories and natural cures.

Note, you can’t possibly take all of items on THE LIST all at once.  However, the foods can and probably should be eaten daily. Choose a couple from the categories and your body will  thank you. Remember, when buying any vitamin supplement or herb, quality is key. Iif you’re not getting an immediate benefit, it may be the brand. This is especially important with Echinacea and Elderberry, but true for all.

Do your research and buy the highest quality possible, or don’t buy it.

 

A quick note on the OTC anti-inflammatory drugs. If you must take, choose ibuprofen over acetaminophen. Here’s why. Please research, it may save a life. The need for either varies depending on patient. I don’t recommend these as the Black Box warnings scare the begeezies out of me. I like to protect both my GI system and liver as much as possible. When you have “THE LIST” below you’ve got all the natural anti-inflammatory relief you’ll ever need and NO Black Box Warnings.  (If you’ve never read the Black Box Warnings, please google it.)

OK, let’s dive into THE LIST!

PREVENTATIVE LIST

Let’s start with the preventative list.  The old saying; “Prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  The foods and herbs listed are definitely ones to take all winter as this flu will morph and will find those with the weakest immunity.

Clean your cell phone.  Be a little germaphobe and get some Thieves Oil spray for your hands and phone. Use often.

Garlic – garlic raw – garlic cooked – 4 or more cloves daily.  Why skimp?Boil it and make tea, add to every food, shred, dice, chop, chew, shave, just eat it daily.

Kimchi- Sauerkraut – fermented veggies – brined pickles.

Reishi mushroom powder or capsules. Lion’s mane, mitake, shitake are also good but reishi is best.  (Read: The Good Gut by Dr.’s Justin & Ericka Sonnenburg)

Goat milk  or coconut yogurt or kefir

Cod Liver Oil – approx. 1 Tbls. daily

Vitamin D3 – 5000mg daily

Vitamin A – Vitamin K also necessary to absorb Vit D.

Echinacea tincture– should have a little tongue numbing quality otherwise toss it.

Yu Ping Feng San – Jade Wind Screen Formula or Astragalus/ Huang Qi

Zinc

Stop pretending you should do everything you do in the summer.  It’s winter, slow down. Stay warm. Hibernate a little.

Wear a scarf.  Most colds/flu start at the base of the neck,occiput.

Vitamin C – 5000 mg or more daily.  Lypospheric Vitamin C  is a good option.

Puerh tea

Increase carotinoid protection i.e. improve gut absorption add HCI or pancreatic enzymes

Elderberry Tea

Onset of Flu like symptoms   (these items can also be used for prevention)

Bed #1 best medicine or comfy couch

Oil of Oregano – mix a few drops in water and drink

Great Tea: turmeric, reishi, ginger, pinch of black pepper and honey to taste.

Garlic, lemon, honey tea.  Make yourself real garlic cloves, real lemon, raw honey.

Fire Cider: ginger, turmeric, garlic, onion, thai peppers, horseradish root, peppercorns, citrus and rosemary all infused in apple cider vinegar. Take shots often.

Chicken Soup – homemade is best.

Bone Broth – get a high quality brand

Be conscious of the “Militant Metaphors” as Susan Sontag describes these phrases.  Some metaphors make the experience of illness worse. Consider illness as a reset time. It can be a time of reflection and contrast to better appreciate our wellness.

Hot showers or baths daily. Get water hot enough to raise the body temperature and burn the critters. Epson salt in the bath, of course.

Stay warm with extra clothing layers.

Electrolyte drinks or add liquid mineral drops to any drink.

Lingering Cough with Phlegm

Head over steaming water pot with mint essential oils, lavender, or whatever you have that you love.

Elderberry syrup.

Chinese herb cough syrup – Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa

Qing Qi Hua Tang Wan – Minor Blue Dragon formula

Chinese herbs for cough are tricky and very specific so check with a Licensed Acupuncturist trained in Chinese herbs for the right herbs for your cough.

Pinapple juice for cough and Kiwi’s are excellent

 

This list is not intended to be ALL inclusive of what may help you.  This is simply a list of what my health practitioner community has been finding extremely helpful during this 2018 bout of flu.

What else:  The common sense things like wash bed sheets and wipe down surfaces, door knobs and cell phones. Wash your hands a lot and drink a lot of fluids to wash away all the dead viruses you killed using the items on the list above.  A little bit of winter sun bathing from a warm car may be a nice reprieve from the bed and the couch. Stay healthy and we will all ride out these pesky viruses getting stronger together.

You may have noticed the flu vaccine is not on The List. The research is profoundly lacking and the virus mutates so quickly.  More information in this excellent article.

Chinese Herbs in Environmentally Friendly Packaging

Chinese Herbs in Environmentally Friendly Packaging


Chinese herbs for Americans that are convenient, taste great and have less packaging. Less packaging is not just environmentally friendly but extremely important to Pacific Herbs. Small packets are used rather than plastic bottles and boxes, or heavy glass jars. Pacific Herbs packets are friendly to the environment especially compared to plastic bottles that can take 500 years to decompose in a landfill.

“We believe as a product manufacturer it is part of our duty to look for the most environmentally friendly packaging we can find.” said Cathy Margolin, Founder of Pacific Herbs. “We found are large size packets are the perfect size and provide an excellent moisture barrier to contain a months supply of our Chinese Herb granules. Our smaller packets 50g contain about a two week supply.”

Most supplement companies and Chinese herb products package their products in capsules full of fillers and use excessive amounts of packaging such as a bottle inside a box. This is simply not environmentally friendly packaging. Companies that make consumer products today should understand the cost of producing excess packaging materials but also the cost to the environment.

Pacific Herbs does not even use capsules for their concentrated herbal granules. No capsules means no unnecessary fillers! Not just good for the environment but also great for our bodies. Often times the fillers used in supplement products today have detrimental side-effects on the body. Nobody really knows because nobody is testing the fillers and how they effect our body.

Pacific Herbs uses Traditional Chinese herbal formulas (recipes) that were written down hundreds of years ago. These time tested herb combinations have hundreds of years of continual use.

Pacific Herbs makes products for menopause symptom relief, pain relief, a natural herbal sleep aid, PMS relief, a stress relief herbal mix and more. Find all Pacific Herb products here.

 

 

 

 

Opioid Pain Relievers Unanimously Approved in Oregon

On April 16, 2017 Oregon’s House of Representatives unanimously agreed on a bill that would limit doctors from prescribing opioid drugs for more than seven (7) days unless circumstances determined, by a medical professional, that more were necessary.

NO – Not – Didn’t happen!

This almost happened.  What really happened is the Oregon state legislature instead passed a watered down version of this bill, without the 7 day rule even though the state attorney general’s office had strongly backed the measure because “the risk of overdose and addiction is serious.”

What the House of Representatives in Salem, Oregon passed, is a bill that suggests, clinicians should avoid prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines (a class of psychoactive drugs) known to be addicting after very short time periods. Really!  Yup, they actually took time to pass a bill that now goes to the Senate that “SUGGEST” this.

Even though The Oregon Health Authority says an average of three Oregonians die every week from prescription opioid overdose, the legislature removed any teeth from a bill that might have made a dent in the problem. What good does a bill do that simply “SUGGEST” doctors should cut back on their prescriptions????

I for one am baffled.

Here’s wishing the state legislature would “SUGGEST” a safe botanical like Corydalis for pain relief. The state could become growers of this wonderful, might I even say, “miraculous” plant. Although nobody would get addicted it would provide safe and effective pain relief.  The State could go beyond growing it, they could tax it and regulate it too. This would bring much needed revenue and simultaneously reduce the use of prescription drugs all while having a pain reliever that really works.

The botanical world has plenty of pain relieving chemicals. (uuhhmmm opioids originated from natural chemicals first found in the Poppy plant, now created synthetically.)

Here’s to hoping one day we take plant chemicals seriously and our government representatives “SUGGEST” we use them.

More on Corydalis for pain relief here

 

Pacific Herbs Chinese Herb Marketing Cards Are In Stock

 I hope you are having a fantastic start to the New Year!

Just a quick note to tell our FREE marketing cards are back in stock.

Pacific Herbs marketing materials are always free.  Corydalis Pain Relief Herb Pack, marketing cards are also back in stock. If you have been waiting or need any more to replenish your supply please call or email and we will send them to you today.

Corydalis skinny flyer final_Page_1Always Free !!      Skinny Marketing cards

Also available, a heavy duty acrylic stand that fits four marketing cards in a small space. Grab it here.

Our goal is to help your acupuncture or holistic wellness practice with professional products that you can trust.

Pacific Herbs
740 NW 3rd Street
Bend OR 97701
877-818-9990
www.PacHerbs.com

Can Cinnamon Help Protect You From Cancer?

University of Arizona College of Pharmacy Researchers and the UA Cancer Center say a compound found in cinnamon is a potent colorectal cancer preventor.

New research suggests eating cinnamon may help prevent colorectal cancer, at least in mice.

Previous research has linked this spice to blood pressure reduction and blood sugar control.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has used both the cinnamon tree bark and cinnamon tree branches for over a thousand years.

The bark of the tree is known as Gui Zhi and used in Chinese herbal formulations as a warming and dispersing herb. It helps protect against catching a cold and it can facilitate at warming the Qi, or energy of the body.

Researchers at Arizona College of Pharmacy found the compound that gives cinnamon its distinctive smell and flavor, cinnamaldehyde, also seems to protect rodents against colorectal cancer.

“This is a significant finding,” UA Cancer Center researcher Dr. Donna Zhang, said in a press release. “The next steps are to see if the spice alone can protect against cancer, and see if results can be replicated in people.”

“Can cinnamon do it, now that we know pure cinnamaldehyde can?” he said. “And can we use cinnamaldehyde or cinnamon as a weapon to go after other major diseases, such as inflammatory dysregulation and diabetes? “

Chinese herbs like cinnamon have always been used in TCM with other herbs in synergistic combinations. Using this Chinese herb or any others as a single herb should only be done under the care of a professional trained in Chinese medicine or herbal medicine.  In TCM, Chinese herbs are most often combined to enhance or create an entourage effect for the desired action and to minimize any potential side effects.  Should you have any questions about cinnamon or other Chinese herbs,   get in touch with Cathy at Pacific Herbs for a free consultation at 877-818-9990.

Chocolate Benefits More Than Our Taste Buds

Chocolate Benefits More Than Our Taste Buds

Chocolate can be irresistible!  Isn’t it ironic that chocolate has come to symbolize Valentine’s Day, a day we celebrate the heart, and chocolate is surprisingly beneficial for our hearts?    You may have heard studies say dark chocolate has flavanol which has attracted major interest as a non pharmaceutical option for high blood pressure.

The cacao bean (the source of all chocolate) is a natural remedy which has been used since ancient times for it’s  health benefits.  Only in recent years do we have the scientific research to support what so many people knew through the ages.  Native Aztec and Mayan people ate cacao nibs to relieve depression, help with asthma and some say they used it as a powerful aphrodisiac.  Chocoholic’s worldwide can rejoice now that studies prove the effects on lowering blood pressure and the beneficial antioxidants cacao contains. In fact, greater antioxidant capacity than red wine and blueberries, walnuts or artichokes according to the USDA.

The polyphenol known as flavanols in cocoa can help promote dilation of blood vessels and thereby reduce hypertension. The Cochrane International database  after investigating the effect of chocolate or cocoa on systolic an diastolic blood pressure concluded that chocolate faired better than a placebo at lowering blood pressure.

The best cacao is that which is minimally processed, therefore retaining the nutritional power which can be diminished through heat and processing.  As with Chinese herbs, chocolate is best unadulterated.  The fewer the fillers the better. Steer clear of milk chocolate and white chocolates. P.S. Cocoa butter doesn’t increase blood cholesterol, so eat up.

Touring in Taiwan? Stop to See A Chinese Herbal Medicine Factory

A New Chinese Herb Factory in Taiwan, Taiwan is gaining popularity with tourists. 

 

Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai, second left, listens on Sunday to a man telling the story of traditional Chinese medicine at a tourist factory that opened in the Guantian District’s Industrial Park.

Photo: Yang Chin-cheng, Taipei Times

Herbal medicine is for everyday life, not just for sickness, staff at a Chinese medicinal herb tourist factory said as it opened in Greater Tainan’s Guantian District Industrial Area on Sunday.

Tainan Mayor William Lai said Taiwanese are health-conscious and understand that taking medicinal herbs, even when healthy, is good for the body as a whole.

The Tian Yi factory combines relaxation, food and Chinese medicinal knowledge, specializing in knowledge of how Chinese medicine can be incorporated into everyday life.

General manager Chen Hui-chua said the new Chinese medicinal tourist factory is the third among 14 tourist factories in the municipality.

The factory has its roots in a renowned and venerated Chinese medicinal brand that was better at making medicine than carrying out marketing, Chen said, adding that it was the city’s hope that the factory could help bridge tradition-steeped Chinese medicine with a health-conscious modern world.

“Even if the tastes of Chinese medicine do not agree with everyone, we hope that healthy drinks and teas will eventually be embraced by the younger generation,” Chen said.

The factory is divided into four sections, including a gallery illustrating the development of Chinese medicine over the past 5,000 years, as well as the personal stories of traditional Chinese medicine doctors of old, Chen added.

“There is also an display that explains the process of making Chinese medicine and common concepts of when to use them” Chen said.

“There is a section where tourists can experience what it felt like to be a traditional medicine doctor in the old days,” she said.

“There is also a dining area, where people can try meals that incorporate Chinese medicines,” Chen added.

The meals are a joint effort by the factory and the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism, she said.

Can Chinese Herbs Be The Next Cancer Treatment?

Traditional forms of  medicine may offer  hope for cancer.  

Experts from Cardiff University's School of Medicine have joined forces with Peking University in China to test the health benefits of a traditional Chinese medicine. The new treatments come from Chinese herbs used for liver, lung, colorectal cancers and osteosarcoma of the bones.

"Traditional Chinese medicine where compounds are extracted from natural products or herbs has been practised for centuries in China, Korea, Japan and other countries in Asia," according to Professor Wen Jiang from Cardiff University's School of Medicine, who is the director of the Cardiff University-Peking University Joint Cancer Institute at Cardiff and led the research as part of a collaboration between Cardiff University and Peking University.

The traditional Chinese herb formula consist of 14 herbs. The formula has been shown to be beneficial to cancer patients.  The researchers have discovered how the formula work.  Apparently it works by blocking a pathway which stops the spread of cancer cells in the body.

"It suggests that combining the formula with conventional as well as new therapies could hold the key to developing new treatments for cancer patients.

"We are already looking to clinical trials in treatment of lung and other cancer types."

Funded by Cancer Research Wales and the Albert Hung Foundation – the results will be presented at the European Cancer Congress 2013 which takes place in Amsterdam between the 27th September and 1st October.

http://www.sciencecodex.com/combining_chinese_and_western_medicine_could_lead_to_new_cancer_treatments-120173 

Chinese Herbs Safety Information

Many people today turn to alternative medicine to deal with an array of health issues, including trouble with sleep, menopause, pms, lack of energy, weight loss…the list goes on.

It is extremely important then that we know what we are putting in our bodies. All foods, including herbs have the potential to be dangerous if grown with heavy pesticide use. Pacific Herbs has been aware of this from the birth of our company…. and that’s why we use the gold standard of testing to ensure the quality and safety of our herbs.

Watch this short video explaining how you can learn if your herbs are safe.

 

Ever Wonder Where Your Herbal Supplements Come From ?

Safe Chinese herbal supplementsHave you ever you wondered where your herbal supplements really come from?  Did you know that 95% of what you're buying at U.S. health food stores originated in China or was processed in China or India?  

Below is a section of one of the many emails I get nearly daily from companies who want to sell me their ingredients.  As you can see much of it is written in Mandarin and there is no mistake the company selling these ingredients is based in China.  When I inquired with them about testing of their products they, like so many companies have DO no testing on their raw materials or finished products.   I said, "WHAT, NO TESTING?"   Yup, that's right.  No tests!  That means if the farment used pesticides you will get pesticides in your herbal supplements.  

 If you are concerned your supplements may contain heavy metal, pesticides, bacteria, E-Coli, and other contaminents you are right.  They probably do!  Get your products from a trusted source.  Only buy from companies that produce COA's (Certificates of Analysis) and have lot numbers and expiration dates on their products.  This is the only way to know you're not getting cheap ingredients produced at the cheapest prices without testing and without assurance that your herbal supplements and vitamins are truly safe. 

More on COA's here!

P.S.  All Pacific Herbs products are produced with COA's, Lot numbers and have over 200 purity and potency tests before they are packaged into finished products. 


Dear Madam,

This is our company's hot-selling products recently Vitamin C- Ascorbic acid (from Tapioca Grade / Cassava) (corn), soy and green tea.  We have best price and most favorable terms. Please contact me at numbers below. We ship directly.

Serial     number    Name      Active principle

01         大豆提取物(Soybean P.E.)  大豆异黄酮(Soy Isoflavones)

02        山楂叶提取物(Hawthorn Leaf Extract) 山楂叶黄酮(Hawthorn Leaf Flavones)熊果酸(Ursolic acid)

03       绿茶提取物(Green Tea P.E.)   茶多酚(Tea Polyphenols)儿茶素(Catechins )咖啡因(Caffeine )

04     黑升麻提取物(Black Cohosh P.E.)三萜皂甙(Triterpene Glycosides)

05     槐米提取物(Pagodatree Flower Bud Extract )卢丁(Rutin)

06     葡萄籽提取物(Grape Seed P.E) 原花青素(Proanthocyanidins)

Look forward to your reply.

John  

Sales Manager

(Company information deleted to for my protection)

Chinese Herbs From A Western Medicine Viewpoint

How a Harvard-trained doctor began to appreciate Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM.

As a child growing up in China, I was always aware of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is what we refer to as Eastern medicine, in contrast to the Western medicine we know from U.S. hospitals. I never understood much about TCM, only that it somehow involves herbs and that many Chinese people used it. The more I progressed in my medical training in major U.S. academic centers, the more distanced I felt from TCM. Why should I learn about something that lacks evidence, when there’s so much to know about for which there is good research?

 

Last fall, I went to China on a research trip. While my study is primarily on its Western medical system, I was so fascinated by what I learned of Eastern medicine that I spent many free evenings observing TCM practitioners. There is so much I didn’t know. As a discipline, TCM is far too complex for me to understand in my short observation, but there are some very important “lessons from the East” that are applicable to our Western medical practice:

 

#1. Listen—really listen. The first TCM practitioner I shadowed explained to me that to practice TCM is to “listen with your whole body”. Pay attention and use every sense you have, he said. I watched this doctor as he diagnosed a woman with new-onset cervical cancer and severe anemia the moment she walked into his exam room, and within two minutes, without blood tests or CTs, sent her to be admitted to a (Western) medical service. I’ve seen expert clinicians make remarkable diagnoses, but this was something else!

“How could you know what you had and that she needed to be admitted?” I asked.

“I smelled the cervical cancer,” he said. “I looked and saw the anemia. I heard her speak and I knew she could not care for herself at home.” (I followed her records in the hospital; he was right on all accounts.)

 

#2. Focus on the  diagnosis. I watched another TCM doctor patiently explain to a young woman with long-standing abdominal pain why painkillers were not the answer.

“Why should we treat you for something if we don’t know what it is?” he said. “Let’s find out the diagnosis first.” What an important lesson for us—to always begin the diagnosis.

 

#3. Treat the whole person. “A big difference between our two practices,” said one TCM doctor, “Is that Western medicine treats people as organs. Eastern medicine treats people as a whole.” Indeed, I watched her inquire about family, diet, and life stressors. She counseled on issues of family planning, food safety, and managing debt. She even helped patients who needed advice on caring for the their elderly parents and choosing schools for their child. This is truly “whole person” care!

 

#4. Health is not just about disease, but also about wellness. There is a term in Chinese that does not have its exact equivalent in English. The closest translation is probably “tune-up to remain in balance”, but it doesn’t do the term justice, because it refers to maintaining and promoting wellness. Many choose to see a TCM doctor not because they are ill, but because they want to be well. They believe TCM helps them keep in balance. It’s an important lesson for doctors and patients alike to address wellness and prevention.

 

#5. Medicine is a life-long practice. Western medicine reveres the newest as the best; in contrast, patients revere old TCM doctors for their knowledge and experience. Practicing doctors do not rest on their laurels.

“This is a practice that has taken thousands of years to develop,” I was told. “That’s why you must keep learning throughout your life, and even then you will only learn just a small fraction.” Western medicine should be no different: not only are there new medical advances all the time, doctors need to continually improve their skills in the art of medicine.

 

#6. Evidence is in the eyes of the beholder. Evidence-based medicine was my mantra in Western medical training, so I was highly skeptical of the anecdotes I heard. But then I met so many patients who said that they were able to get relief from Eastern remedies while Western treatments failed them. Could there be a placebo effect? Sure. Is research important? Of course. But research is done on populations, and our treatment is of individuals. It has taken me a while to accept that I may not always be able to explain why—but that the care should be for the individual patient, not a population of patients.

“In a way, there is more evidence for our type of medicine than for yours,” a TCM teacher told me. “We have four thousand years of experience—that must count for something!”

 

There is so much I have not covered about TCM. Its practices vary regionally, and no doubt, there are more and less capable practitioners (as there are in Western medicine). More research into TCM methods will be important. However, regardless of whether we Western doctors want to prescribe TCM treatments, we should recognize there is much to learn from Eastern medicine, including what it means to be a physician to really care for our patients. Upon my return from China, I, for one, have a new found appreciation for Eastern medical practice and a renewed understanding of holistic medical care.