Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), herbal medicine, and acupuncture treatment are often times viewed in Western culture as alternative treatment methods that are not as efficient or powerful as typical drug-related treatment plans in the United States.
Herbal medicine stems from a branch of TCM that utilizes the natural healing powers of plant-based ingredients to bring about better health. Concoctions created using plants, herbs, roots, bark, flowers, and more can induce various healing properties without the potentially harmful side effects typically seen from drug therapy.
TCM focuses on re-stabilizing our body’s natural energy system called “qi” (pronounced “chee) in order to drive good energy back into your meridians (channels of flow for qi) and reduce harmful obstruction of these channels.
Conditions such as musculoskeletal pain, digestive disorders, allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Insomnia, and more are very common reasons why people supplement their treatment plans with herbal medicine.
Herbal medicine, however, can also be used to simply augment one’s health as opposed to treating a particular condition or disorder.
Below are 6 ways that herbal medicine can help you live a healthier life.
1) Improve Digestion
One of the most common reasons why herbal medicine is used is to improve digestion and reduce the uncomfortable effects of heartburn, indigestion, and improper bowel movement.
Rather than use laxatives to stimulate the peristalsis of your body, herbs such as Senna Alexandria, Rhamnuspurshiana, and Aloe vera can induce the same wavelike smooth muscle contraction in your stomach to result in proper digestion and movement of your bowels
2) Improve Sleep
It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important factors in determining your health. Sleep not only helps regain proper brain function, but it also induces the rest and recovery throughout your body (including soft tissue repair) that is necessary to live a high quality of life.
If you’re experiencing difficulty sleeping or simply feel like the quality of sleep you are getting is not adequate enough for you, try exploring herbal remedies such as Valerian root or Passionflower, both of which have been proven to promote healthier sleep and faster recovery.
3) Reduce Stress
Do you find yourself anxious and wound up all day? Is your work life balance causing you more stress than you realize?
Chronic stress over an extended period of time has been shown to result in many lasting and damaging effects such as weight gain, cardiovascular damage, and impairment of neurological pathways [https://www.stress.org/stress-and-heart-disease].
Thankfully, there’s been several studies that have proved the efficacy of herbal medicine on reducing stress [https://foodrevolution.org/blog/herbs-reduce-stress/] including the 3 herbs and effects below:
1) Ashwagandha root – shown to ride stress levels by 44% and cortisol levels by 28% [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798]
2) Lemon balm – a mint family balm that reduces anxiety and induces mood-boosting effects [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15272110]
3) Curcumin – proven to be helpful in reversing harmful brain changes induced by stress [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27043120]
4) Improve Blood Circulation and Flow
Healthy circulation and flow of your blood through arteries, veins, and capillaries are essential to get fresh oxygen throughout your organs. This circulation walks hand in hand with your body’s natural healing power to focus hormones and biochemicals into areas of need.
Without proper circulation, a myriad of issues arises such as fatigue, liver failure, kidney failure, nerve damage, and more.
Thankfully, for individuals who need some boost to their circulation, herbal medicine (many times used in conjunction with acupuncture treatment) is recommended. Herbs such as cayenne, ginkgo, olive leaf extract, and bilberry
[https://www.botanicchoice.com/health-news/health-library/cholesterol-and-heart-articles/5-herbs-for-healthy-circulation/] are great for healthy flow and circulation.
5) Reduce oxidative stress
Antioxidants and oxidative stress are the results of reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulating in the body to cause a myriad of harmful effects on physiological functions.
While there are harmless variations of ROS molecules such as free-radicals that have no chemical reactivity, the ROS that does play a role in cell signaling can be very dangerous to accumulate and allow to build up.
The harmful effects of ROS are further amplified in individuals that are experiencing rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and other auto-immune diseases which makes herbal medicine an excellent option for these individuals. Studies have shown that herbs and spices used in TCM can support significant improvement in reducing the amount of oxidative stress in your body
Regardless of whether you are currently living with a chronic illness or simply are seeking ways to improve your immune system and health, herbal medicine is an incredibly beneficial, non-toxic, and easily attainable treatment method to help you reach your health goals.
If you want to explore any of the ways mentioned above that herbal medicine can improve your health, seek out a local acupuncturist or TCM practitioner to learn more!