written by Eric Grey
Classical Chinese herbalism was, for a very long time, a primary way that the Chinese treated disease and maintained wellness.
Because of this, the discipline has treatments for the entire range of health problems. It is a complete medical system. There are, of course, situations in which herbal medicine excels, and places where Western biomedicine or another discipline has faster or more effective answers.
What I write below is mostly true of my own herbal practice– other practitioners will have different levels of experience treating these things with Chinese herbs. If you want to know whether your provider feels comfortable with these disorders, just ask them.
My personal background, interests and skills influence what types of patients are going to benefit most from their treatment with me.
The school and teachers I worked with had their own specialties and tendencies, which I absorbed. The mix of patients I've seen over my career has given me reason to study their specific problems more deeply and paid me off with experience in treating those problems. And, of course, my personal history predisposes me to be interested in certain problems, mostly those that I have experienced in my body or through the experience of family and close friends.
Below find a list of disorders and symptoms I've worked with successfully in the past, but first…
AN IMPORTANT NOTE! I name some biomedical disorders below. Chinese herbs are not approved by any government authority as a “cure” for any of the diseases listed. Chinese herbalism, when practiced classically, does not treat biomedical diseases. It treats patterns of disharmony and symptomology that are often associated with the disorders below.
So, no, I cannot “cure” or “prevent” COVID-19, for example, and would never claim to do so.
It is also important to note that I cannot claim 100% efficacy in all cases of those disorders any more than any medical practitioner could. Further, the lists are not exhaustive. If you're ever curious about whether I believe I can help you with your specific problem using Chinese herbs, just reach out to me and we can discuss.
Acute pain is ALWAYS better and more quickly treated by acupuncture. This includes pain from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries and similar.
- Hormonal, digestive and stress related headaches. Note, headaches that come primarily from spinal or muscle tension may respond better to acupuncture or massage.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Abdominal pain, gynecological pain
- Nerve pain, particularly secondary to shingles and other viral causes
Digestion and elimination
If the symptoms are too severe for the patient to be able to ingest anything, herbal treatment will be very difficult if not impossible.
- Chronic diarrhea and constipation, or both, from any cause
- Appetite problems
- Nausea, with or without vomiting
- Heartburn and GERD
- Hemmorhoids, fissures
- Chronic bloating, gas or burping
Gynecology & obstetrics
Chinese herbs, when prescribed appropriately, are safe during pregnancy and breast feeding.
- All menstrual problems including painful, heavy, scanty, irregular or otherwise problematic periods
- PMS and any problematic mood disturbance that seems related to hormone cycling
- Fibroids, cysts and endometriosis
- Gynecological cancers, especially prevention and early stages
- Fertility including complementing IVF and similar
- Most problems of pregnancy including in patients who are threatening miscarriage or have history of miscarriage
- Post-birth recovery, including help with milk production issues
- All problems of menopause including hot flashes, overall dryness, insomnia and mood regulation challenges
Heart and circulation
If you are taking blood thinners, we will need to take special care with your herbal formula!
- Early stages of heart failure and heart disease
- Unexplained chest pain, where serious cardiac disease has been ruled out
- Poor circulation including Reynaud's syndrome
- Chronic dizziness from any cause
Lungs, ear, nose, throat and infectious diseases
- Symptoms of all viral and bacterial infections
- Chronic ear, sinus, throat and lung infections
- Immune insufficiency NOT caused by a pharmaceutical you are currently taking
- Seasonal allergies, environmental allergies (dust, mold)
- Tinnitus (this is very challenging to treat, I have had limited success)
- Bruxism, sleep apnea
- All kinds of rashes, hives, seriously dry skin
- Symptoms of psoriasis, eczema. Psoriasis is quite difficult to treat, and usually requires a combination of diet changes, supplements and herbs.
- Hormonal and digestive related acne
- Unusual hair loss or nail quality problems, especially related to hormones
Strange, undiagnosed, misdiagnosed and “psychosomatic” disorders
- Chronic Lyme
- COVID-19 long-haul symptoms
- Mystery syndromes, especially those that have a hormonal or metabolic component
- Bizarre reactions to conventional treatments for any disorder
- Very bothersome symptoms that you have never had diagnosed or treated adequately
- Many auto-immune disorders fit into this category
Situations that would be better to pursue with another practitioner at Watershed Wellness
I want to be explicit about some things that I've had very little or no success treating – people who are chiefly experiencing something like this would do well to work with one of our other practitioners. If you're not sure who would be best, just get in touch.
- Acute musculoskeletal pain. This is best treated with acupuncture and/or massage.
- Severe/acute anxiety, depression and other mental-emotional distress. While herbs can be of some help, acupuncture and gentle Naturopathic medicine can often be a much better fit.
- Turning a breech pregnancy or facilitating labor. As already mentioned, Chinese herbalism works well for a variety of pregnancy and birth situations, but acupuncture is required if you are wanting to urgently promote birth or turn a breech baby.
- Treatment of infants. I will not treat a child under 1 year with herbs due to the potential for honey contamination in most Chinese herbal products. Older kids, particularly those who enjoy strong flavors, can benefit from herbal treatment.
- Treatment for people with extremely acute, especially potentially fatal, food allergies. I cannot perfectly guarantee safety due to supply chain and in-clinic issues. I have successfully treated folks who have milder allergies, even a less severe case of celiac disease. Those with food sensitivities are usually fine.
- And, importantly, no practitioner at Watershed Wellness works with a primary focus on weight loss. While body weight and composition can change with treatment, this is never our central intent in any treatment plan.