As practitioners of life cultivation, when we are sick, we may visit a herbal medicine doctor to seek professional help. Learning some basic theories of herbal medicine and some technical terms of herbal medicine will help us to choose a herbal medicine doctor, understand what the herbal doctor said, understand the disease, and cooperate with the doctor to find faster and better recovery under the guidance of the herbal doctor.
Herbal medicine and Western medicine are two different systems of medicine. In layman’s terms, herbal and Western doctors use their own set of skills, and the methods are different, but the purpose and effect are the same. Western doctors use a method of meticulously analyzing the human body layer by layer to check for lesions, so various checkups are performed, and the more inspections become more detailed.
The method of herbal medicine practitioners is just the opposite. It cannot analyze layer by layer, but uses the method of observing the external manifestations of the patient’s whole body (such as changes in expression, tongue, pulse, etc.) to infer the patient’s internal lesions.
Therefore, herbal medicine practitioners need to look at the patient’s external systemic comprehensive reaction. This is called a syndrome in herbal medicine, and it will be treated. This is what traditional herbal medicine doctors often say about syndrome differentiation and treatment. Facts have proved that as long as the symptoms of the systemic reaction are cured, those local diseases will also be cured to varying degrees.
04 Differences between herbal and western medicine
When a patient visits a herbal medicine doctor, the doctor must identify what syndrome is needed for treatment. The syndrome is recorded using the concept of traditional herbal medicine, and the name of the syndrome would also be written in our medical record. It would use terms such as wind-heat exogenous, wind-cold headache, heart-yin deficiency, etc.
Most people are now accustomed to the disease named in Western medicine, and they know little about the syndrome names of herbal doctors. We should be careful not to forcefully apply mechanical explanations to the herbal medicine terms to avoid many troubles and twists and turns.
In herbal medicine, the doctors first determine the name of the disease and then the name of the syndrome. It is the syndrome that needs to be treated in order to cure the disease at the root cause.
For example, headache is the name of the disease. It must then be diagnosed through syndrome differentiation. It may be diagnosed as wind-cold headache or hyperactivity of liver yang syndromes which will be then treated as such.
Take for example the patient with insomnia as mentioned before. When a herbal doctor diagnoses him as a syndrome of heart-yin deficiency, the patient may interpret it as heart weakness in Western medicine, then he is completely wrong.
If the patient further understands it as heart failure, he will be panicked without cause. The heart mentioned by herbal doctors and the heart of Western medicine doctors are completely different in content and concept, and they should not be confused.
If the patient insists on knowing what kind of disease is the heart-yin deficiency in Western medicine, the herbal doctor can only tell him: maybe equivalent to neurasthenia in western medicine.
Why does the herbal doctor say maybe? Is he not sure?
Establishing a disease name in Western medicine, the doctors must go through their set of inspections before it can be confirmed. Those standards are not comparable to those of the herbal doctors.
Now things have changed. Most of the regular herbal doctors are now familiar with Western medicine, and he will examine and treat the patient according to the set of standards in Western medicine. In addition, there are also herbal doctors who take the initiative to add Western medicine for examination and treatment according to the needs of the disease. This is one of the methods of integrating herbal and Western medicine which is quite popular in China.
In particular, for some diseases, the methods of Western medicine can be used to investigate in a detailed and in-depth manner. Sometimes a comprehensive and systematic examination is also required in order to better combine treatment for the patient.
Therefore, when we visit a traditional herbal doctor, we should start from scratch, and tell him our symptoms for him to start his diagnosis process. It will be confusing to tell him our health problems in Western medical terms.
05 Self-alteration of prescription
Some patients love to study traditional herbal medicine and they know a little about it. Then they often add or subtract certain herbs according to their own ideas to improve on the doctor’s prescription. This should not be done. This can easily disrupt the treatment process and delays the best time for treatment.
The herbal doctor prescribed the prescription based on the syndrome identified at that time. There are strict rules for the composition of a prescription, with clear priorities. They are called jun, chen, zuo, shi and so on in medical books. If the patient changes the primary and secondary herbs randomly, it will become another prescription, unknowingly to him.
There are strict rules to follow for the patient to make up the concoction according to the herbal prescription, time to administer it, and coordination with taking other foods. The herbal doctor would have given directions which the patient should follow.
The most popular rule is for the patient to try a prescription for three days, then he should revisit the herbal doctor to see the results.
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