Do all the "herbs" used come from plants?

Although called herbal medicine we occasionally use ingredients from animal, and mineral sources, but the vast majority come from plants. Contrary to the impression we get from media misinformation animal products are rarely used and we never employ endangered species. The penalties for illegal use of CITES listed endangered species both in China and the West are severe. Sometimes common minerals and shells, etc. are used – for example cuttlefish bone is traditionally used as an antacid. So you should tell us if you are strictly vegetarian or are allergic to shellfish.

What is Chinese medicine good for?

It is used to treat the full range of diseases, acute and chronic, traumatic, infectious, common and rare. It is especially good to promote the body’s ability to heal and recuperate. It is often used when proper function has broken down and doctors do not really understand why – irritable bowel syndrome for example. That said, some illness may be extremely virulent or far advanced, or there may be irreversible changes meaning that Chinese medicine my not be appropriate. Obviously I will advise if other treatment is more suitable in your case. Some patients come as a last resort and it is often successful here, but it is also an excellent and effective choice at the beginning of any disease. It should be considered for the many illnesses that modern medicine either does not fully understand or for which it can offer no effective treatment. On the whole modern medicine is better at treating emergencies or illnesses requiring surgery

Do all the herbs come from China?

Yes, they are all imported from China where most are professionally grown for commercial use by specially trained experts in their cultivation, harvesting and processing. As they are commercial medical products for serious professional use, quality standards are policed by the Chinese government. This is not a cottage industry but a multi billion-dollar business. About 600,000 acres of land are devoted to herb growing, equivalent to 200,000 football pitches – if you can imagine that!

What is Chinese medicine's safety record?

Very good indeed. Chinese herbs are safe, problems only arise if they are prescribed wrongly. Practiced correctly by well-qualified practitioners they are extremely safe and should have virtually no side effects. If a patient reports side effects from a Chinese medical treatment, the practitioner modifies the treatment until there is healing without side effects. Virtually no activity is completely risk-free (many in the UK more people have hospital treatment for tea cosy injuries than for Chinese herb reactions!) and compared to drug-based treatment serious adverse reactions to Chinese herbs are very rare indeed – probably less than one in a million. On the other hand, official UK statistics estimate that 30% of all drug prescriptions result in side effects and 3% to 8% of all hospital admissions are due to the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. The insurance industry are good at risk assessment, it is the core of their business; in the UK TCM practitioners pays less than 10% of the professional insurance cover premium of NHS doctors.

How long does it take to see results with Chinese medicine?

In acute (new) illnesses, results can often be seen in a matter of hours. In chronic condisome results should be seen within a few weeks. Although chronic conditions may require taking Chinese herbal medicine for a long time, nonetheless, signs that the medicine is working should be apparent to patient and practitioner alike almost from the very start.

Can children take Chinese herbal medicine?

Paediatrics is a specialty within TCM and children are given much reduced dosages. There are also special prepared paediatric medicines in pill and powder form. Chinese herbal medicine can treat colic, the teething, earache, diarrhoea, cough, and fever in babies and children

My doctor says its all a placebo effect!

Your doctor cannot know everything. Most of the literature read by doctors is paid for directly or indirectly by the pharmaceutical - medibusiness industries who treat complementary medicines as a threat. Consequently, through no fault of their own, most doctors are poorly informed on TCM. Few have any idea of the extent of research that exists that helps validate Chinese medicine. Government sponsored expert panels who have reviewed some of the evidence for Chinese medicine (such as the US National Institute of Health and the UK House of Lords select committee on complementary medicine) have concluded that there is sufficient evidence from placebo controlled trials to support many of acupuncture and Chinese medicine’s therapeutic claims. For example, acupuncture treatment for nausea and vomiting has been shown to be effective and not due to placebo in many high quality trials. Chinese herbal medicine has also been subjected to clinical trials and found to be safe and genuinely effective. No treatment is entirely without a slight placebo effect but Chinese medicine clearly offers much more than that.