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About Chinese Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine is a part of Chinese Medicine.  Chinese Medicine is a holistic healthcare system whose purpose is to treat the whole person rather than just the disease. For over 2,500 years Chinese Medicine has been the prevailing form of medicine in China, treating almost every illness known to man. Throughout the millennia, vast amounts of healthcare knowledge, experience and wisdom have been acquired.  Modern synthetic drugs are not used, but only natural treatment methods. The goal of Chinese Medicine is to provide balance to the body so it can heal itself.

Many people are concerned about certain aspects of American Western Medicine– that it is only concerned about treating the symptoms instead of the cause, that is causes side effects, and sees the human body as a collection of parts. Chinese Medicine seeks to treat the causes of health problems rather than just the symptoms and seeks to balance a person’s diet and lifestyle.

History of Chinese Herbal Medicine

The founder of Chinese Herbal Medicine is said to have been Shen Nong (The Divine Farmer) who supposedly lived 4,500 years ago.  He was said to have personally tasted 365 herbs and to have recorded their functions.  The last herb he tasted killed him before he was able to take the antidote.  Over the millennia, new herbs were added and classified.

Chinese Herbal Medicine consists mainly of vegetable sources including leaves, flowers, twigs, stems, roots, tubers, rhizomes, and bark.  There are animal and mineral products used on occasion as necessary.  Most of the herbs used (about 80-85%) come from China with the remaining percentage having been integrated from outside China.  Although these herbs come from a different country, they have been proven to work for people in the United States and all over the world.  Herbal products come in different forms – raw, powder, pills, tablets, tea.

How Chinese Herbal Medicine Works

Many patients are curious about the nature of Chinese Herbal Medicine.  There are a few important things to understand.  Chinese Herbal Medicine differs from Western folk medicine in that it usually uses a larger variety of herb in each prescription.  While Western folk medicine typically uses one or a few herbs to treat symptoms, a Chinese Herbal prescription can contain 6-18 herbs.  Think of a baseball or football team; each member has his own position and role to play for the team to win.

Also, Chinese diagnosis includes not only a disease diagnosis, identifying the symptoms, but also a pattern diagnosis, identifying a person’s pattern that is causing weakness and disease in them.  The variety of herbs is specially selected to deal with the person’s immediate as well as long term problems.  They have hardly any side effects, and if a patient does experience any unpleasant side effects the practitioner can adjust the amounts of herb in their mixture until there are no side effects.

Chinese Herbal Medicine classifies herbs according to flavor, thermal quality, movement of the energy, and organs treated.

The Five Flavors are Sweet, Pungent, Salty, Sour, and Bitter.  The Five Temperatures are Hot, Warm, Neutral, Cool, and Cold.  The Four Movements are Lifting, Floating, Lowering, and Sinking.  And, The Twelve Organs are Heart, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder, Kidney, Pericardium, San Jiao, Gall Bladder, Liver, Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, and Spleen.

Chinese Herbal Medicine in St. Louis

Dr. Eric Waltemate has studied and practiced Chinese Herbal Medicine since 2005 and has been serving the St. Louis area since 2010.  If you want to learn more about how Chinese Herbal Medicine can help you with your health concerns, call us at (314) 569-0057 or e-mail Dr. Waltemate at

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