Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine – how can it support your health and wellness

by in Health Tips, Traditional Chinese Medicine April 6, 2024

My name is Tomoyo Furusho and I am a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner (TCMP) at the Women’s Health Centre.

In this blog post I would like to tell you about traditional Chinese herbal medicine, why I recommend certain herbs for my patients and how it can help to support your health and wellness through all the stages of your life. I will talk about the methods I use to diagnose and prescribe herbs and the difference between using herbal formulas versus a pharmaceutical approach to treating certain health conditions. 

What is Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Chinese Herbal Medicine is a combination of herbs, minerals, and sometimes animal products that have medicinal effects.

Herbs are classified according to its’ energy and how they can support, build, move, clear or reduce areas of imbalance. They may be in a raw form, in powder form, lotion, pill or granules drunk as a tea.

A combination of different herbs are chosen by your TCMP to help balance the yin and yang aspects of your body. Each TCMP is very knowledgeable about herbs and contraindications to pharmaceuticals. 

medicine herbs to support women's health

How is Chinese herbal therapy different from a conventional approach?

The difference between traditional Chinese medicine herbs (TCM) and western therapy lies in the approach to disease. In TCM a formula is chosen based on many factors of a patient, taking a whole body approach that includes constitution and lifestyle, aiming to address the root cause of symptoms. In contrast, modern medicine usually focuses on only treating the symptoms that are presenting, addressing only part of the body.

When we see a patient in TCM, we always consider “why and how” symptoms are manifested. To determine this, we ask many questions and examine the patient’s tongue and pulse.

Even if two patients come to see me for the same reason, they may be prescribed different formulas. Conversely, two patients with different issues might receive the same formula.

How do I chose the right herbal formula?

In TCM, we employ four diagnostic methods:

  1. Observation (望診): Using visual inspection to observe any abnormalities in patients’ vitality, tongue, and bodily secretions.
  2. Auscultation & Olfaction (聞診): Utilizing listening and smelling techniques to identify abnormalities in sounds produced by patients and attending to odors emitted through breath, secretions, and excretions.
  3. Interrogation (問診): Questioning patients about observable symptoms, signs, and relevant medical history to aid diagnosis.
  4. Palpation (切診): Assessing pathological changes and organ function by feeling the pulse and applying pressure to corresponding body areas.

We consider the symptoms and signs experienced by the patient and diagnose their issues based on traditional Chinese medicine theory to select the appropriate herbal formula for the patient.

What conditions can TCM herbs treat?

Traditional Chinese herbal medicine can alleviate discomforts not classified as diseases in medical examinations. Here are some examples of common discomforts that TCM herbs can work for;

fertility and pregnancy

How can Chinese medicine support fertility and reproductive health?

Whether you are struggling with painful periods, abnormal period or infertility, TCM can help support your health journey alongside western medicine interventions. 

Acupuncture and herbal therapy can help to:

  • regulate your monthly flow, increasing flow to the uterus
  • lessen the side affects of drugs used during the IVF process
  • relax and calm your nervous system when preparing for fertility procedures
  • reduce pain, clotting or heavy bleeding during your period
  • support your pregnancy journey, reducing nausea/vomiting
  • support you post pregnancy/postpartum

Other modality Chinese Medicine Practitioners use

As a TCM practitioner, I utilize various tools beyond herbs, such as acupuncture, moxibustion, and dietary advice.

The acupuncture channels run throughout the body, with acupuncture points situated along these channels, much like stations along railways. We determine which points to utilize based on diagnosis, selecting appropriate tools like acupuncture, moxibustion, or cupping accordingly.

By altering lifestyle habits, significant improvements in health can be expected. Diet plays a pivotal role in overall wellbeing. We carefully examine your dietary habits and recommend adjustments as necessary to help you achieve your health goals.

We analyze your lifestyle from multiple perspectives and select the most suitable tools to facilitate the attainment of your health objectives.

About the author

Tomoyo Furusho
TCMP (traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner)
Applied Holistic Nutritionist

Tomoyo is a Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Registered Acupuncturist under the college of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO). She also earned her diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition and is passionate about supporting women’s health.