Herbal Medicine in the EastPapyrus writings from ancient Egypt and China describe medicinal uses of herbs, and the histories of cultures in Africa and the Americas show that herbal medicine was used in these regions of the world as far back as recorded history. Once world travel became more commonplace, early scientists found that people in very different parts of the world used some of the same plants for the same medicinal purposes. Today, herbal supplements are used worldwide, including in the most technologically advanced nations.The first written record of herbal medicine is from around 2800 BCE in China. A comprehensive medical compendium discussing the use of herbs go back to the Huang Di Nei Jing, or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which dates to between 800 and 200 BCE. It listed 28 different substances and a dozen different herbal prescriptions, and some of these are used to this day. Herbal medicine became firmly established in China over the next several hundred years, and in about the year 500, The Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica was published, containing references to the herbal vitamins properties and a classification system for herbs.Herbal Medicine in the MediterraneanBut herbal medicine wasn’t just confined to the Far East. The Greeks used herbs as well, and the Roman Empire spread the use of herbs throughout the Empire along with commerce based on growing herbs. The herbal practitioner Galen created the first Roman classification system that matched common illnesses with their appropriate herbal remedy around the year 200. Herbal supplements at that time were generally in the form of the actual plant parts, which may have been consumed directly, or in preparations like teas.Herbs in the Arab World and EuropeBy the dawn of the second millennium AD, the Arab world became prominent in medicine overall, and the medical canons of that era and region referred to herbal medicines as well. In Europe, as the Black Death spread mercilessly, herbs were used alongside “modern” techniques like purging, bleeding, and the use of arsenic and mercury, and they generally had better results, though nothing was able to stop the plague successfully.The Renaissance through the Present DayHerbs continued to be used throughout the Renaissance, and folk traditions from Europe brought European herbal medicine independently to America in colonial times. Today, with more people dissatisfied with the solutions of Western medicine, herbal supplements are undergoing another renaissance, and many are being scientifically studied in rigorous trials to lock down some of the mechanisms by which these ancient medicines work. Along with the world wide web, knowledge about herbs is spreading among ordinary people and scientists alike, and the future of herbal medicine looks as promising today as ever, as studies are showing the true effectiveness of these naturally-given medicines.
The Chinese people have a saying: “Chinese medicine treats humans while western medicine treats diseases.” Nowadays, many Chinese people do not see a conflict between western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. For example, a case of acute appendicitis would be treated with an operation to remove the appendix. However, the philosophy in Chinese medicine is to keep the body, mind and spirit in balance to prevent appendicitis. The concepts in traditional Chinese medicine involve a holistic approach that considers mental health, diet, life style, and Qi (life energy), while western medicine tends toward a more simplified cause and effect relationship wherein symptoms are treated with drugs that often have undesired side effects.Because of its systematic approach and overall effectiveness it has for centuries had a great influence on the theory and practice of medicine in the East, and more recently has grown rapidly in popularity in the West. It still is a major part of healthcare in China, and is provided in hospitals alongside western medicine.In the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine, optimum health results from living harmoniously in balance, and ill health can occur when the natural balance of energies is disturbed and becomes unbalanced. Because healthy people can resist everyday bacteria and viruses, the most prized herbal formulas are the ones that maintain and improve overall health with no side effects. Chinese medicine targets the imbalances and disruptions in the Qi energy and via various methods, brings the body back into harmony so that it is able to heal itself.Common indications that your body is starting to be out of balance or is already out of balance include: high stress, sleeplessness, skin issues, headaches, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, respiratory issues and gastro-intestinal. These conditions, as well as many others are regularly and successfully treated using Chinese Medicine techniques without invasive methods or unwanted side effects. Chinese Medicine works by addressing whatever the source of the imbalance might be and not just the symptom.Another sought-after aspect of the best Chinese Medicine treatments is that they work to harmonize your condition no matter how you are out of balance. For example, there are herbal formulas that, as they balance the Qi in your body, will possibly help to balance out stress, eliminate skin issues and infuse you with energy all at the same time; this approach is used instead of the Western approach which is to have a separate treatment for each issue.The priority of Chinese medicine is to maintain the body in balance, instead of needing to return it from a state of imbalance. Herbal formulas are one of the primary methods of keeping the body healthy, and are very popular because they have been used for thousands of years with proven success. Other methods used in Chinese medicine include acupuncture, food therapy, massage therapy, and various breathing and meditation techniques (tai chi and qi gong).