Chinese herbal medicine is part of the holistic system known as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Its branches include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tuina (Chinese remedial massage), Chinese exercise therapy (which includes tai chi and qi gong), and lifestyle advice.
The origins of Chinese herbal medicine in China can be traced back at least 5000 years, making it one of the oldest and most long-standing health care systems in the world.
In the intervening millennia, the practice of Chinese herbal medicine and TCM has developed and matured to become what it is today – a natural and holistic system of primary health care, supported by scientific evidence, that is being used by people from a wide range of cultural and social backgrounds to effectively treat a wide range of chronic and acute health problems.
A qualified practitioner is able to prescribe a Chinese herbal formula that specifically matches and treats your individual health problem. As your condition changes and improves with treatment, the Chinese herbal treatment is also adjusted and modified until the desired health outcome is achieved.
For more information on Chinese herbal medicine, please visit www.acupuncture.org.au.
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, including Chinese herbalists, must be registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) before they are permitted to practise in their profession. It is therefore essential that members of the public seeking traditional Chinese medicine services consult a practitioner who is registered with the CMBA.
Selecting a practitioner who is also accredited with the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) provides an additional layer of safety and quality assurance. AACMA members are held to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct and by accessing the services of these highly qualified and experienced practitioners, you’ll be ensuring the best possible care for yourself or your loved ones.
To locate a qualified and registered traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, contact AACMA on 1300 725 334 or use our online practitioner search facility on www.acupuncture.org.au.
The hallmark of traditional Chinese medicine is holistic individualised treatment. At the initial consultation, practitioners will take a case history by interviewing the patient about their current health concerns, past health conditions and a range of related matters, including diet, lifestyle habits, sleeping patterns, appetite, menstrual cycle, stress reactions and food or other sensitivities. To further identify what are known in traditional Chinese medicine practice as ‘patterns of disharmony’ in the body, the practitioner will observe and note other health indicators such as the colour of the face, the condition of the tongue, the sound of the voice and the characteristics of the radial pulse of the wrist.
All manufactured medicines in Australia are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, which ensures compliance with strict requirements on safety, quality and a range of other matters. Traditional Chinese medicine products are marked AUST-L (listed) or AUST-R (registered) to indicate the product is legally able to be supplied in Australia.
The recommendations of a qualified and registered TCM practitioner who is also accredited with AACMA should guide an individual’s consumption of Chinese herbal medicines. For safety’s sake, it’s strongly advised that members of the public do not self-medicate or purchase Chinese herbal products available on international websites, as these may not be regulated by the TGA and may not be manufactured to Australian standards.
Treatment commences once assessment and diagnosis is complete. The duration of the treatment and the type of technique used will vary according to both the patient’s condition and the practitioner’s mode of treatment. Chinese herbal medicine traditionally involved decocting raw herbs – steeping them in boiling water and reducing them to a concentrated form which is then imbibed as a tea. Decocted raw herbs continue to be used in contemporary TCM practice and some practitioners may dispense decoctions by the dose in heat sealed bags. However, a broader range of options are now available for patients, with Chinese herbal medicine available in granulated (water soluble) form, in capsules, or in pills.
The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) profession in Australia is committed to the protection of endangered species. Reputable practitioners do not use medicines derived from illegally acquired wildlife flora and fauna.
Traditional remedies that are derived from endangered species, or that contain potentially toxic components, have been replaced by other substances with similar actions.
Dr Andrew Chambers is a nationally registered practitioner of Chinese medicine, being one of Melbourne’s pre-eminent holistic physicians.
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