Chinese herbalism, the use of plant, animal and mineral parts for healing, dates back thousands of years to ancient China where herbs were used to address a wide range of diseases and disorders. The practice of Chinese herbology is a precise art that represents a powerful healing tradition. There are 500 individual herbs used in Chinese Herbal Medicine. These single herbs are rarely used alone. Instead they are combined with other herbs into formulas consisting of two or more herbs. It is the careful combination of herbs that produces the desired effect for an individual patient. Ancient Chinese herbal formulas are as effective now as they were thousands of years ago. They treat a wide variety of symptoms while stimulating the body’s natural healing process.
An herbal treatment begins with an Oriental evaluation of the patient to diagnose imbalances, followed by an individualized prescription of herbs which is reassessed and readjusted at regular intervals. Teas or decoctions prepared by cooking the raw herbs allow the most individualized prescription. Modern techniques allow several simpler methods of delivery for formulas. They can be transformed into pills, capsules, granules, tinctures, or topicals making them easy and convenient to take and accessible to a wider audience.
Today people are taking a much more active role in their health care. Pharmaceutical drugs don’t work for everybody and many drugs prescribed have undesirable side effects. With no alternatives offered by conventional medicine, many consumers have begun to explore the world of herbalism. Hence the herbal industry has grown substantially over the last two decades. This growth has drawn the attention of many in conventional medicine, calling for more studies measuring the safety and effectiveness of various herbs. The National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is the lead agency for scientific research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). It currently has an annual budget $128 million, some of which is used for research on herbal medicine.
The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) has established standards to practice Chinese herbology safely and effectively. The NCCAOM certifies individuals to practice Chinese herbology in the United States by national examination. Chinese herbology is considered most safe and effective when prescribed by a qualified practitioner of Oriental Medicine. New York College offers comprehensive programs for education and training in Chinese Herbal Medicine that provides the desired quality assurance to consumers. Graduates of the institutionally and programatically accredited Bachelors/Masters degree program in Oriental Medicine are entering the field of herbology at a time when both escalating interest in the use of herbs and a need for knowledgeable practitioners are providing numerous opportunities to practice, research and teach.