Can Herbs Heal You? Here's What a Doctor Of Chinese Medicine Says

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Playing Herbal Medicine 101 From a Doctor of Chinese Medicine
Herbal Medicine 101 From a Doctor of Chinese Medicine Aired February 04, 2020

You might be rather familiar with modern medicine — but when it comes to herbal medicine, do you have a lot of questions? Us, too. Do herbs actually heal you? And if so, how? 

That's where Dr. Daniel Hsu, a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine at AcuHealth in New York, comes in. 

"There are two main pillars of Chinese medicine," Dr. Hsu explains. "One of them is acupuncture and one of them is herbal medicine." 

"Herbal medicine can be delivered in all kinds of ways," he continues. "You can have raw herbs and cook them — [or] you can have granular herbs — and for topical purposes, you can have herbs in patches."

(Did you know? "The chemical in Aspirin comes from the bark of the willow tree," Dr. Hsu says.)

Dr. Hsu had Rach and co-host Bob Harper try one in powdered form, mixed into hot water. That particular formula is widely prescribed and called "Xiao Yao San," which translates to "the Carefree Wanderer." It's a mix of things like Chinese Angelica Root, gardenia, licorice root, ginger root, among other things. It's great for stress and anxiety and minor aches and pains, according to Dr. Hsu.

With that said, "Chinese herbal formulas are complicated," the doctor stresses. "Sometimes there are 30 or 40 different kinds of herbs. Some herbs are the main herbs that are there for the actual effect. [And] some herbs are there to help out those herbs and sometimes mitigate some of the side effects you don't want."

In other words, don't start making herbal concoctions on your own. Consult with your doctor or a practitioner of herbology. "Don't do this at home," Dr. Hsu says. 

With a few exceptions ...

"A lot of these herbs, believe it or not, exist in your kitchen," the doctor goes on — like ginger, mint, garlic and licorice. "A lot of times, when you're eating food, you're actually using a lot of herbs."

So, you can use simple herbs like mint tea when you have a cold or ginger tea to calm nausea. 

And if you're having other health issues and want to explore herbal healing options, remember to reach out to your doctor or a practitioner of herbology for advice.

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