Chinese-traditional-herbs traditional Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine

Choosing Chinese medicine is often a last resort and I was no exception; in my case it was very bad back! Thankfully it sorted my back out and a few other things besides; I was intrigued as I didn't understand why it had worked. Chinese medicine developed in China and other Asian countries and has been the main form of medicine for much of the world's population for thousands of years. All of the illnesses that we recognise in Western medicine are part of Chinese medicine, however with a very different understanding of the factors that shape health and how to treat people.

In China most hospitals have both a Western and Chinese medicine side, with doctors being trained in both until they choose to specialise. It's not uncommon for both forms of medicine to be used alongside each other in specialist departments such as gynaecology or oncology. In the West Chinese medicine is also being embraced; in Australia most GP's surgeries have an acupuncturist and about 30,000 GP's use acupuncture in Germany.

Chinese medicine views the balance of health & illness in an 'energetic' as well as a physical way and the vitality of organs, blood, spirit, Yin-Yang are important (as are bacteria & viruses). Health is best when the body is in balance; so treatment aims to create balance. At a simple level this can be a case of warming someone up who's too cold. This approach of addressing the underlying cause for a problem (rather than just the symptoms) usually has the benefit of a greater sense of general wellbeing and quality of life for people, as well as direct relief from complaints.

Chinese medicine is tried and tested and has been around for centuries; in our modern setting it's used alongside Western medicine and science and this brings greater understanding and new interpretations to many diseases (see FAQ).


Acupuncture is more than just inserting fine, sterile needles into the body; in the same way that being a GP is more than just writing prescriptions. It's the application of a medicine that's been around for thousands of years and requires skill and experience to do it justice. The needles are placed to stimulate and encourage healing in the tissues, organs or channels of the body. Acupuncture can stimulate the immune system to promote body's ability to heal, release muscles, expel illnesses and balance the emotions.

The energy (Qi) flows around the body in a similar way to the nerve and blood networks. Different points on the channels have various actions on the body systems and are carefully combined. Recent research indicates that acupuncture changes the function of the fascia that is a network connecting all of the muscles and organs in the body. There are four types of fascia; some is fluid in nature and this appears to flow along acupuncture channels.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine is arguably the most important strand of traditional Chinese medicine and the training in the UK for entry to the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM) is usually a further 3 year course after becoming an acupuncturist.Herbs can be used to encourage the body to make adjustments in a natural and gentle manner on a daily basis. The affects of herbs are well known and amazingly about 80% of modern formulae are based on the work of the genius Zhang Zhong-Jing who wrote the Shang Han Lun in 210AD.

Chinese herbal medicine is more than the action of individual herbs; the combinations of herbs interact to achieve a more complex and rounded effect. Herbs usually work more slowly than modern drugs, and prescriptions may be modified during a course of treatment in response to improvements in the patient. In the long term this allows adjustments to increase the effectiveness of treatment.

Herbs don't taste that great....I use the high quality granules or powders now used in Chinese hospitals rather than dried herbs being brewed into a tea' every other day. At times this is needed, but it takes ages; granules in a sachet are a lot easier!

Where herbs come from and their authenticity is essential; suppliers approved by the RCHM and members of the Chinese Medicine Association of Suppliers (CMAS) are the only suppliers used. The Chinese Materia Medica contains over 3,000 substances, with a core of several hundred commonly used ingredients, (mainly stems, roots, barks, flowers & leaves). It's important to know that since 2006 the RCHM has supported the MHRA decision to stop the use of animal and mineral products by herbalists in the UK; so all herbal prescriptions from RCHM members in the UK are in fact Vegan...

If you have any questions about acupuncture and how it can help you please email Justin Hextall

acupuncture can stimulate the immune system