Acupuncture is only one part of traditional Chinese medicine. Chinese herbs are the heart of Chinese medicine and greatly enhance treatment results. Some people opt to be treated by Chinese herbs alone. We highly recommend coupling your acupuncture treatment with Chinese herbs, especially if you're addressing something deeper than musculoskeletal pain (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, reproductive health, cough, allergies, digestive disorder, etc.)
Are herbs safe?
Yes -- IF you consult a professional Chinese herbalist. In Virginia, that's a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) who holds an NCCAOM certification in Chinese Herbalism (Dipl. CH) or Oriental Medicine (Dipl. OM). Most reports of herbs causing issues are due to people who bought them over the counter without consulting a licensed herbalist. This leads to incorrect dosing, unnecessary long-term usage, and taking the wrong herbs for the wrong conditions. A perfectly safe formula for one person may be incompatible for another, and a Chinese herbalist knows how to distinguish what's best for you by performing a differential diagnosis. If taken correctly, herbs are quite safe and beneficial.
What kind of herbs will I be taking?
This depends on what your herbalist decides based on your diagnosis and your constitution. In Chinese herbalism, people are generally treated with formulas (a mixture of herbs) as opposed to a single herb. Formulas were classically designed in ancient times to "team up" herbs that work together well, that balance each other out, and that have "guiding" properties (affinities to certain parts of the body). Herbs can be taken in either tea, powder, or pill form.
Will herbs interact with my medications?
Most people on pharmaceuticals can still safely take herbs, but this must be determined case-by-case. Bring in your medication list, and we can let you know if you're a safe and appropriate candidate for herbs. If you are, we simply advise that you not to take them at the same time as your other medications. This is because the pharmaceutical will diminish the effect of the herb.