​The Top Seven Reasons Why Your Acupuncturist Should Be Trained in Chinese Herbology

​The Top Seven Reasons Why Your Acupuncturist Should Be Trained in Chinese Herbology

Cara Frank, Dipl. OM. L.OM.

You might be surprised to know that in China, most medical doctors have dual training in Western Medicine as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine. Within this dual training, physicians choose a specialty such as cardiology, pulmonology, gynecology, pediatrics, etc. Within the field of Chinese medicine, they can opt to be an acupuncturist or an herbalist.

In the West, most, but not all acupuncture schools combine acupuncture and herbal training.

Licensed Acupuncturists have credentials that use the term L.Ac. or M.Ac. In Pennsylvania, practitioners who are nationally certified in Chinese Herbology are credentialed with L.OM. We use the term Acupuncturist as an umbrella term to describe all practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, so these credentials are the key to understanding their training.

If you want the best treatment with Chinese herbs, make sure that they have graduated from an accredited program, have passed the national accrediting exam and have either L.OM, or Dipl. Ch.H. after their name.

So, why should you choose a practitioner of Oriental Medicine?

    ·Training in Chinese Herbology is an intensive undertaking. Since 2003 I have directed six 660-hour programs. It takes over two years to complete and is equivalent to a master’s degree. It is safe to say that the study of Chinese herbology vastly expands our ability to diagnose and treat a wider range of diseases and conditions than with acupuncture alone.

    ·Here are the top reasons that you should seek a practitioner who can write a custom formula:

    1.Practitioners who prescribe unique formulas for their patients are highly trained. You are assured that your exact health concerns are being addressed.

    2.Cooking raw herb formulas is the often the most effective delivery system. The potency is unmatched and when patients have acute coughs or bronchitis, few treatments are as effective as a raw herb decoction.

3.Almost as good: custom herb formulas in liquid extract or powdered concentrates. The key here is that the formula is written for you and you alone. Writing formulas for patients in the moment is the most flexible responsive and effective way to be treated with Chinese herbs.

    4.You have bronchitis: Chinese herbs and formulas are so effective for alleviating coughs, transforming phlegm and clearing infections. Most of my patients never need antibiotics! Herbs have antiviral properties. Most bronchial infections are viral in nature. In my practice, herb formulas alone are usually enough to resolve the problem. I expect improvement within 24 hours. Prepared formulas in pill form are never this effective, this quickly. That said: if there is pneumonia, we recommend taking antibiotics alone or along with herbs.

    5.You want to get pregnant: poor ovarian reserve, recurrent miscarriage, elevated FSH levels, endometriosis, thin endometrium, fallopian tube blockage, low sperm count and more cannot be corrected with acupuncture. Herbal medicine has a “flesh and blood” quality that helps balance hormones, and build qi and blood and restore fertility.

    6.You have ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel disease: herbs and formulas have long history of being used for ulcerative, inflamed bowel diseases. Herbs clear heat, stop diarrhea, reduce infection and sooth tissue irritation.

    7.The habit of mixing and matching bottles of herbs can be sloppy medicine. When acupuncturists combine multiple bottles of herbs, you run the risk of redundancy and over dosage. For example: most Chinese formulas contain a small amount of licorice to protect the digestion. This is safe for almost everyone. But when different formulas in pill form are given together, you risk an over-dosage of licorice, which may cause edema or hypertension.

Is it ever OK to use herbs in pill form? Of course it is! At Six Fishes, we stock between 30-50 formulas on hand at all times. Many traditional formulas were originally prepared as powders, pills and syrups. Really bitter herbs are easier to take when given as a pill. Pills are easy to travel with. Prepared formulas are nice to have in the medicine chest for every day complaints such as common colds, headaches, and indigestion. And finally, if someone is truly averse to taking decoctions, liquid concentrates or granules, we know that the best herb formula is that one that the patient will take. In this case, we will give them a formula in pill or capsule form.

At Six Fishes Chinese Medicine, our practitioners are experts in art of Chinese Herbology and we take pride in our ability to provide custom formulas to our patients.

Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised by in a health food store in Brooklyn NY. When she was 8 she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 30 years she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. 1n 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with herbs and has never recovered.

Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts in Philadelphia. She is the president of China Herb Company and she is the Academic Director of the Department of Chinese Herbology at the Won Institute of Graduate Studies. You can read her bio or schedule an appointment.

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