Skip to main content

See also:

The quest for single herb answers

Ginseng is often used singly for the wrong reasons.
Ginseng is often used singly for the wrong reasons.

One of the biggest frustrations that medical practitioners face is when patients get partial information from the media or marketing sources. Patients are often convinced that one particular product or treatment is going to solve all of their problems. It can be difficult in the face of strong product marketing to educate patients about their particular situation and what treatments would be best for them. This situation of patients demanding a particular treatment is often blamed for the over prescribing of antibiotics and other popular medications.

This often happens with herbal medicines as well. Patients who are particularly desperate look for the one herb that is perfect for their situation. Traditional herbalists often get these inquiries from people who are looking to self treat a serious medical condition. They have found some herb that they believe would be perfect for their situation. They often have not determined whether that herb is part of an appropriate treatment strategy for them, or just something that worked for someone who has a related problem.

The biomedical approach is to define the issue, prescribe treatment, add treatments as needed to deal with side effects. The Traditional Chinese Medicine approach is to identify a pattern of dysfunction, prescribe a treatment based on current situation. As situation changes under treatment, the treatment is adjusted to help move patient into needing less treatment. Traditional herbalists rarely use single herbs. Herbs were almost always mixed in formulations to control side effects or create a medicine that is appropriate to the patient needs.

The important thing in both biomedical and Traditional Chinese medicine is of course the diagnosis tied to a strategic course of treatment. Chasing after a specific treatment first is much the same as picking up a hammer before you have determined if it is the best tool for the job. Tools and medicines are only as good as the people who wield them. Expert advice from a Physician or Nationally Certified Practitioner is a good way to ensure that the medical treatments you use are correct for your situation.