In the course of your treatment Chinese herbal remedies may be prescribed. They may be dispensed as raw herbs or in pills, capsules, granules, or tinctures which make them easier to ingest. Most herbal formulas can treat a wide variety of symptoms while stimulating the body's natural healing process.
Acupuncturists are the only licensed health care professionals in California who are required to be trained and tested for competency in prescribing herbal medicine. Chinese herbal medicine has been practiced safely and effectively for centuries and has the greatest potential for beneficial results when prescribed by a trained professional who recognizes both the benefits and risks.
In recent years, herbs have become very popular to self-treat many conditions. They are available in health food stores, supermarkets, and on the Internet. While herbs are promoted as safe, gentle, inexpensive, "natural" alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs, many health care professionals have concerns about safety, effectiveness, and potential misuse of herbal products, especially when self-prescribed. There are also questions of purity, strength, and standardization of herbs.
The California Acupuncture Board strongly recommends consulting an acupuncturist before beginning any herbal therapy. It is also very important to inform both your physician and acupuncturist of all the products you are currently taking (drugs, herbs, other supplements) so they can monitor effectiveness, ensure safety from adverse reactions, and watch for possible interactions. If you have an allergic reaction to any herbs, let you acupuncturist know.
How effective the treatment is depends on the severity and nature of the condition being treated. Acupuncturists are trained to identify conditions that may require referral to a specialist, so it is important for you to provide detailed information about your condition so that important medical problems are not overlooked.
If you are under the simultaneous care of different health practitioners, it is important to keep all of them informed about your treatments to ensure there are no adverse interactions.