What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine, also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine, is the use of plants (herbs) to treat disease and enhance well-being.   Many different parts of a plant may be used for this purpose, including seeds, leaves, flowers, roots, bark, and berries.  ​Plants have been used for medicinal purposes since long before recorded history. Records of using herbs for medical use are described in Chinese and Egyptian writings as early as 3000 BC.  Some cultures developed whole medical systems based on the use of herbs (such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine).  Researchers found that people in different parts of the world tended to use the same or similar plants for the same purposes.
In the early 19th century, when chemical analysis first became available, scientists began to extract and modify the active ingredients of plants.  Today, almost one fourth of pharmaceutical drugs are derived from botanicals.  Recently, the World Health Organization estimated that 80% of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some part of their primary health care. 
Whole herbs contain many ingredients, which work together to produce beneficial effects. Many factors determine how effective an herb will be. For example, the type of environment (climate, bugs, soil quality) in which a plant grew will affect it, as will the method and date it was harvested and processed.  Herbs are often used together, in a formula, because the combination may be more effective and have fewer side effects. Health care providers must take many factors into account when recommending herbs.  Herbal medicine is used to treat many conditions, such as asthma, eczema, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and influenza, among others. Although herbs are natural substances, there can be side effects if not used properly and some are contraindicated when used in conjunction with certain drugs.  Herbal supplements, therefore, are best taken under the guidance of a trained health care provider.
Chinese herbal medicine is a major component of traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - a wide range of medical practices sharing common theoretical concepts, which were developed in China over 5,000 years ago.  While Western herbal methods often precribe based on the properties of single herbs themselves, in Chinese Medicine, herbs are most often combined into medicinal formulas.  The herbalist first determines which underlying conditions or patterns are manifesting in the patient's unique situation. Then, an appropriate Chinese herbal medicine formula is chosen with the understanding that the different herbs work together, each having their own action and balancing out the total effect. It is not uncommon for a Chinese herbal medicine formula to contain more than 10 different herbs.
Traditionally, Chinese herbs were usually taken in a decoction, which involves boiling them into a tea. Today, more scientific methods of preparation are available for Chinese herbal medicine formulas. One of the preferred methods is to make a decoction under specific conditions and then dry it to make a concentrate, which can be used as a powder or pressed into a tablet. Powder and tablet forms are just as effective and much more convenient for the typical patient.  Another method is to extract the herbs in alcohol, which is called a tincture. 
At Acupuncture Integrative Therapy, herbal products that are developed by U.S. based companies are used.  Herbs are verified for authenticity and tested for pesticides, heavy metals, fungus, mold, and bacteria to ensure purity and safety.   Herbs are recommended to patients based on their individual needs and according to Traditional Chinese Herbal principals.

How are Herbs Beneficial?

Chinese Herbal Medicine


Nutrition counseling is an ongoing process in which a health professional works with an individual to assess his or her usual dietary intake and identify areas where change is needed.  Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are leading causes of death in the U.S. as well as major contributors to reduced quality of life and disabilities.  For a myriad of reasons, most Americans do not eat a healthy, balanced diet.  Even those who eat the best foods don't necessarily get the proper nutrition they need for optimal health.  There are many reasons for this.  Today's soil is depleated, high-yield crops are deficient in certain nutrients, modern fertilizers do not supply enough trace elements, many of our foods are GMOs, long-distance transportation of many foods diminishes their nutrition, and weakened digestion from use of antibiotics and other drugs can result in poor absorbtion of nutrients and food processing often drastically reduces nutrient content.
Nutritional counseling can help individuals to identify areas of their diets which may be out of balance and can improved.   Suggestions may be made for nutritional supplements that help compensate for deficiencies and improve nutrition and thus overall health.
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Tree of Life Healthy Birthing & Parenting 
617 Saxony Place, Encinitas, CA 92024
G3 Physical Therapy
and Wellness Center
227 N. El Camino Real, #100
Encinitas, CA 92024
Appointments in Carmel Valley available upon request.