Chinese Herbal Medicine. The Chinese materia (a pharmacological reference book used by TCM practitioners) contains hundreds of medicinal substances—primarily plants, but also some minerals and animal products—classified by their perceived action in the body. Different parts of plants such as the leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds are used. Usually, herbs are combined in formulas and given as teas, capsules, tinctures, or powders. Chinese herbal medicine is a major aspect of traditional Chinese medicine, which focuses on restoring a balance of energy, body and spirit to maintain health rather than treating a particular disease or medical condition.
How is it promoted for use?
Chinese herbal medicine is not based on mainstream Western concepts of medical diagnosis and treatment. It treats patients’ main complaints or the patterns of their symptoms rather than the underlying causes. Practitioners attempt to prevent and treat imbalances, such as those caused by cancer and other diseases, with complex combinations of herbs, minerals, and plant extracts.
Chinese herbal medicine uses a variety of herbs such as astragalus, ginkgo, ginseng, green tea, and eleuthero (also known as “Siberian ginseng”) in different combinations to restore balance to the body. Herbal blends are said to prevent and treat hormone disturbances, infections, breathing disorders, and a vast number of other ailments and diseases. Some practitioners claim that herbs have the power to prevent and treat a variety of types of cancer.
Most Chinese herbalists do not claim to cure cancer. They use herbal medicine with mainstream treatments prescribed by oncologists, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. They claim that herbal remedies can help ease the side effects of standard cancer treatments, control pain, improve quality of life, strengthen the immune system, and in some cases, stop tumor growth and spread.
One aspect of Chinese herbal medicine aims to restore or strengthen immunity and resistance to disease. Treatments undertaken with this goal are called Fu Zheng or Fu Zhen and are given as complementary therapy intended to reduce the side effects from mainstream cancer treatments.
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