Healing effects or side effects
As a TCM
practitioner, we need to know that patient’s unexpected “worse”
feeling could be side effects of herbs, the same as the fact
that conventional drugs can cause side effects, but it can also
be healing effects. It is difficult sometimes for a beginner to
tell which is which, but it is very important in determining to
continue or to stop the herbs.
following major conditions we need to clarify:
feel nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating in stomach, or other
discomfort feeling after taking herbs. Stop the herbs, the side
effects usually subside within hours and rare need several days.
However such side feelings are hard to identify with healing
crisis or normal reactions with herb therapy. This is aim of
this article to discuss.
treatment (with either acupuncture or together with herbs),
patient may feel more pain, or more tired. After several hours,
or one to two days, such feeling subside and patients feel much
better for less pain and more energy (and more other nice
feelings too). We call it healing crisis since it is not like
side effects in which patient feel the same pain after side
effect per se subside.
(3). Mark of
proper dose of herb to work.
apply herb therapy following the Shang Han Lun style, the herbs
should be taken until patient feels little drowsy, little
near-headache, near-nausea feeling. Such feelings are regarded
the mark for “proper” dose for the individual. Since each person
is different for their body size, weight, and body reaction, the
amount of herbs needed to reach such “proper mark” is variable.
Old TCM doctor find that the healing effect will be the best if
patient starts to feel such near-headache feeling, no matter how
much dose he/she has actually taken. In clinic, we find it true
and it is a very useful mark to decide the amount of herbs each
patient needs to take. Such near-headache feeling should not be
regarded as side effects. If you did not learn it in your
textbook TCM, you should know it now.
disease-causing factors out of body, TCM has several ways to do
it: to let people have sweat, so the disease-causing factors
leave body through the sweat. We call is sweating therapy.
Similarly, we also have vomiting therapy, diarrhea therapy…
beside what you may already know the Cooling therapy, or Warming
therapy, or what you are familiar: the nourish therapy (nourish
Qi or blood) in the body. In this case, the sweat, the vomiting,
the diarrhea… is not a side effect at all. They are what the TCM
doctor wanted. It is by this way to re-balance body function,
rather than to “kill” something in the body. As TCM doctor, we
need to know what may happen with each herbal formula and also
tell patient what may happen, to get cooperation with the
patient. Without this caution, patient may run away worrying the
times in clinic, it is very hard to set up a diagnosis. This is
true for any kind of medical system, conventional medicine or
traditional Chinese medicine. The nature goes by its own, not by
our human standard. It means that the patient’s condition is so
complex to make diagnosis. He/she may have conditions that seem
belong to Fire, but not typical, or seem to be Cold, neither
typical. Many times it is the mixture of the Fire and Cold.
Also, for senior patient who have long history of diseases and
have taken largely various medicine from conventional medicine,
their body condition is the mass of accumulation of phlegm,
stagnation of blood and Qi, deficiency in Qi and blood.
Diagnosis and treatment for them is very difficult. In this
case, we also take a trying-to-know process. It means to try
some herbal therapy first and see how it works. If it releases
the clinic problem, we continue the main direction of treatment.
If the clinic condition becomes worse, we may use different
different TCM styles which ordinary TCM doctor may or may not
realize it. It means that most of TCM doctor wish to use herbs
to solve the current clinic condition. Once the aim is reached,
the treatment stops. Such doctors usually do not use “Hot”
herbs. On the other side, there are a group of doctors in TCM
history who belong to Huoshen Pai”, meaning that they use “hot”
herb commonly in clinic. The use of such “hot” herb is to
nourish Yang Qi in the body. The Yang Qi is kind of body defense
ability to endure illness attack. It is a broader concept than
the immune system in conventional medicine. It is due to the
deficiency of Yang Qi in the body that makes the illness staying
in a chronic condition.
There are so
many clinic examples to explain what I mean here. One common
example is the treatment of chronic sinus problem. Person with
the chronic sinus problem have puffy feeling in the sinus area,
running nose, frequent sneeze, light headache in front head,
poor attention ability, poor sleep, etc. People tend to call it
a kind of “allergic reaction” too. Ordinary TCM doctor will
consider it as Fire, since the tongue of the patient might be
pink and patient may feel dry in mouth. The doctor may give
“Cold” herb with the use of Jinyinhua, lianqiao, Banlangen… to
reduce the “inflammation” there. The symptoms may be reduced
somehow but patients know it: the problem is still there since
they feel the same feeling once they get in a cold morning or
get tired someday. This makes such “allergic condition” so
difficult to treat by ordinary TCM doctors.
Then for the doctors
belonging to the Huoshen Pai, they will use hot herbs to warm up
the Yang Qi in the body to treat the allergic reaction. In my
experience, this is a very effective way to solve the allergic
“bad” thing that I believe a good thing, is that, after solution
of the allergic reaction, patients feel problem again and again.
Such problem, pain or others, could be the previous problem in
life, if the patient can remember. They didn’t bother the
patients for a long time. Now, they come out again. Why?
understanding is that the body of the patients get more ability,
after continuous taking of Hot herbs, to clear the previous
illness that hidden in the body for a long time. For example, a
trauma in wrist or in lower back, or diarrhea, or a headache
subside for a while since the body has no enough energy to solve
it so they stay in the body and body cannot feel it. Now with
the use of hot herbs, there is more Yang Qi in the body to clear
the old illness, so that patients feel them again. This is not
at all a side effect. Such situation can commonly seen in senior
people who have more chance to damage their body in their early
life. I mean it is good, because it means that the body has more
ability to work against hidden illness now. Continuing the Hot
herb therapy to solve the old problems, one by one, people have
high chance to get a real “Cure”, no matter if it is diabetes or