Chinese herbal formulas have evolved over thousands of years to effectively address almost every known medical condition. These formulas are often quite complex, containing multiple individual Chinese herbs.
The herbalists who developed them years ago empirically tested them over and over again to make them work better, and this process of modification over a long period of time is one of the main reasons they are so effective.
Although when these formulas were developed we lacked the technology to chemically analyze and measure the effects of the individual herbs within a formula, through many by experienced herbalists’ observations over time, and then sharing their results with other herbalists, they were able to assign biomedical actions to each herb.
Not surprisingly, these formulas are every bit as effective in modern times as they were in ancient times. One reason they are so very effective is that Chinese herbalists had also developed a system to diagnose the medical problem of their patients using observational techniques, since modern medical technology such as chemical analyzers and microscopes hadn’t yet been invented.
When a Chinese herbalist examines a patient, and these days we have many veterinarians who have been trained to practice Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), they do things like look at their patient’s tongue, examining it for color and coating. This can tell them a lot about what is happening inside the body, since the tongue is inside the body and we don’t have to do any imaging or cut slices into the body wall to observe it, the tongue is perfect to observe so as to gain a better understanding of what is going on inside the body.
In addition to looking at the tongue, the veterinarian trained in TCVM will next feel the pulses of their patient. The pulses are another great way to gain insight into the workings of the body, and can help to target the organ system involved in a pet’s disease problem. Most vets will feel the pulses in a dog or cat by standing behind them and placing each of their hands on the left and the right femoral artery, and from that they can derive even more diagnostic information.
The third part of the TCVM hands-on diagnosis involved palpating, or in other words, putting pressure on specific acupuncture points which can tell the veterinarian even more about organ pathology.
A thorough history of the patient’s problem can also help the TCVM veterinarian, and learning things like, when the condition gets worse, how environmental conditions contribute to improving or worsening the condition. Here’s an example:
If for instance, your dog seems to always avoid being in the heat, it tells your vet that your dog may have “inner heat”. This helps to better define what herbs or herbal formulas will help your dog.
Herbs and herbal formulas have different characteristics. Some herbs, like black pepper or ginger are very warming. Other herbs like goldenseal or gentian are very cooling. Entire herbal formulas which might contain 15 or more herbs can have an overall warming or cooling effect, or they can be neutral.
As simple as it may seem, one approach to matching the patient’s characteristics to the herb or herbal formula is to treat a patient with heat with herbs that are cooling. This helps to “balance” the patient and make them feel better. The reverse is also true. Say the pet is cold all the time. When you feel its paws, they are cool to your touch. They are always seeking warm spots, and in the winter time may not want to go outside very frequently. We can give this pet a warming formula, or just warming herbs like ginger and cinnamon, and they will feel better and be less sensitive to the cold.
It is for this reason that I use Chinese herbs extensively in my work with my patients. I get great results, sometimes almost to amazing to believe. Chinese herbal formulas have been found to shrink tumors and bring cancer in to remission in some veterinary patients, even without Chemotherapy or radiation. And for those patients who have to have chemo or radiation because their cancer is so aggressive, Chinese herbal formulas can help with the anemia, and nausea and other side-effects of these cancer-killing, but toxic-to-healthy-cells therapies.