Chinese Herbal Medicine FAQ

Q.What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?
A.Chinese Herbal Medicine has evolved over thousands of years. In Chinese culture it is considered part of their food culture, and is seen as an ordinary part of diet that can influence a person's well being. It uses many hundreds of different herbs described in the Chinese pharmacopeia that are combined into carefully composed of herbal teas to suit an individuals immediate requirements.
Q.What happens during a consultation?
A.First appointments will be scheduled slightly longer than subsequent visits to allow the practitioner to take a full medical history. This is followed by careful questioning regarding your condition, Chinese tongue and pulse diagnosis, a physical examination where required and a discussion on prognosis and the most appropriate course of treatment. After this the practitioner will compose a prescription reflecting your condition. This prescription can be altered on every visit so as to reflect any changes/improvement in your condition until it is fully resolved.
Q.What conditions can herbal medicine treat?
A.Chinese herbal tea can be used to treat the widest range of conditions from skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema and acne, to hormonal issues such as PMS, fertility and menopause through to digestive and respiratory problems and allergic and autoimmune diseases. Many conditions, especially in their chronic forms, present great difficulty for conventional medicine whereas CHM can produce remarkable results. For a fuller list of conditions that may be helped, please look at one of the special clinics or follow this link www.avicenna.co.uk/therapies/chinese-herbal-medicine/
Q.Are the herbal tea sachets ready to use as they are?
A.Yes, they are ready to use, one sachet is one portion normally you will be asked to drink  two sachets of tea per day.
Q.
How should herbal tea sachets be stored?
A.It is important they are stored correctly, preferably in a cool dark place. They can be stored in the fridge but this is not necessary. Avoid direct sunlight or direct exposure to heat. Stored under the correct conditions,  herbal tea has a shelf life of up to 70 days. Herbal teas are prescribed for the individual patient only and should be safely kept out of reach of children.
Q.Can Chinese herbal tea formula (dry or in sachets) be kept and used at a later date?
A.Because a formula of Chinese herbal tea is prescribed individually and for a specific condition at a particular time, it is not appropriate to keep them and consume them at a later date. If in doubt please contact the clinic to get advise from your Practitioner for further advice.
Q.Can herbal tea in sachets be frozen and defrosted?
A.Yes, but they may only be frozen once and as soon as they are dispensed. Once defrosted they must be used within 24 hours.
Q.Can they be heated in the microwave?
A.No. If preferred the contents may be warmed gently by placing the sachet in warm water for 30-60 seconds before opening.
Q.How long do the herbal teas last? Do they have a shelf life?
A.Stored under the correct conditions, decocted herbs have a shelf life of up to 70 days from the date of production.
Q.What do I do if a sachet becomes damaged in transit or becomes hard or expands — can I still use it?
A.No. Tea sachets that leak, or that have expanded and gone hard should be discarded and NOT be used.  If this happens please call and let the clinic know.
Q.What is the best time of day to take them?
A.Please consult the instructions on the sachet unless otherwise informed by your practitioner.  The usual dose is to drink one sachet before your morning meal and one sachet before your evening meal. Your Practitioner may suggest a different regime.
Q.Should herbal tea be taken before or after food?
A.Herbal tea is part of your normal food intake, please follow the instructions on each herbal sachet, unless instructed otherwise by your Practitioner: It is best to drink one sachet before your morning meal and one sachet before your evening meal.
Q.What does the tea taste like?
A.Because each herbal tea is unique to the individual and their  condition, the ingredients and therefore the taste of each prescription will vary. Generally, Chinese herbal tea can taste a little strange at first to our Western palates, but despite initial impressions most people get used to the taste and have no problem drinking them fairly quickly.
Q.Can I mix the tea with something e.g. honey, juice etc to make them more palatable?
A.Yes - but it is best to try and get used to the taste — most people do so quite quickly. Liquorice is often used to sweeten a prescription and disguise the taste.
Q.Can I have an allergic reaction to herbal tea?
A.Anything that comes into contact with our bodies or that we eat or drink can potentially cause an allergic reaction. Thus all natural things can cause an allergic reaction, although adverse reactions are extremely rare with Chinese Herbs. If in doubt, stop drinking the herbal tea and contact your Practitioner immediately.
Q.Is it normal to feel worse before I feel better?
A.This shouldn't happen, though occasionally, your condition may change slightly before settling down. If in doubt, please call the clinic.
Q.What do I do if the herbal tea makes me feel significantly worse?
A.Stop drinking the tea for the time being and call the clinic for advice.
Q.Should I continue taking the herbal tea if I am feeling better?
A.After consultation with your practitioner take all the herbal tea until the course is finished.
Q.Can I keep taking the herbal tea when I get a cold or get ill?
A.If it's a simple common cold or head cold, then it should be fine for you to continue. If you develop a fever with your illness, flu like symptoms or digestive problem, it is best to discontinue the tea until you feel you have recovered. If in doubt, phone the clinic for advice.
Q.Can someone else with the same illness use my herbal tea?
A.Herbal medicines can be very powerful and should only be taken on prescription by the person they've been prescribed for.
Q.How long do I have to take them for?
A.This depends very much upon the severity of the condition being treated and whether it is chronic or acute. Your Practitioner will give you an opinion based on their past experience during consultation.
Q.What if I forget to drink my tea or have a break — do I continue to take them as normal?
A.Try not to forget! It is beneficial to build up a continuity with the treatment for it to take full effect. If you do forget, then start again as soon as you can and continue as before. Although it is better to take the herbal tea prescribed per day in two lots more or less 12 hours apart, if you forget a dose, you may take 2 doses together to catch up, but revert to taking them twice a day after that.
Q.Are there any foods or drinks I should avoid when taking Chinese herbs?
A.Depending on the condition being treated, it is best to avoid excessively spicy, rich or greasy foods. In short - moderation in all things is the best way.
Q.Can I drink alcohol while taking herbal tea?
A.In moderation — as with everything! It is best to keep alcohol consumption to a maximum of a couple of glasses 2 or 3 times a week. With certain conditions however, alcohol is not recommended and your Practitioner will advise you during your consultation.
Q.Are there any medications contraindicated with Chinese herbal tea?
A.Yes. It is important that you always tell your Practitioner about all medication you are taking and notify them if anything changes while you are undergoing treatment. Your Practitioner will then be able to advise you and can adjust the herbal tea accordingly.
Q.Can I still take vitamin and mineral supplements?
A.As a general rule, yes.  Consult your practitioner if in doubt.
Q.Can I take herbal tea if I have had, or have to have, travel injections such as yellow fever etc?
A.As a rule, yes. If in doubt, please contact your Practitioner.
Q.Can I take them abroad with me?
A.Yes. To avoid potential delays going through Customs, we recommend taking a letter with you from the clinic with details of your herbal tea. Please contact the clinic for more information before you travel.
Q.Which conditions are herbal teas most suitable for?
A.Chinese Herbal Medicine can have a beneficial effect on many different acute and chronic conditions. Please browse the website for more information or call the clinic for advice.
Q.Is it safe to take herbal teas if I am pregnant or become pregnant?
A.If you are planning pregnancy or trying to get pregnant, be sure to tell your Practitioner, so they can tailor your prescription accordingly. As a general rule however, Chinese herbal teas are excellent for increasing fertility and assisting a healthy pregnancy.
Q.Can anyone take Chinese herbal tea?
A.Yes.  Chinese Herbal teas are very effective for treating wide range of conditions in patients of all ages.  They are also very effective as a tonic for  general well-being.  When properly prescribed they can be taken by all ages including babies, children, pregnant women and the elderly.
Q.Are they safe for children and babies?
A.They are safe for all patients including babies and children. We often treat children only a few months old with good results.
Q.Are Chinese herbal teas safe to take?
A.Yes they are safe, although there are always risks to taking any medication, adverse reactions to Chinese herbal teas are extremely rare and in comparison to Western pharmaceuticals, they have remarkably few side effects. To minimise further any risk, it is and has been the policy at Avicenna to do regular liver function tests on all patients taking herbal teas.
Q.How would you know in time if someone reacted badly to herbs?
A.Even though adverse reactions are rare for patients on herbal medicines (the majority of the problems highlighted in the press were due to adulterated medicines of uncertain origin or herbal pills containing illegal herbal ingredients) we have many years ago adopted a policy of monitoring all our patients with regular liver function tests.
We have collected data from thousands of patients since the early 1990's and the overwhelming evidence is that Chinese herbs are extremely safe and effective. We can therefore say with confidence that it is extremely rare to have any serious adverse reaction. The most commonly reported reaction is minor gastrointestinal upset such as bloating, indigestion or loose bowels. Modifying the herbal formula or adding herbs to strengthen the digestive system can easily remedy this.
Q.I am concerned about the use of endangered species in Chinese herbal medicines.
A.We are a RCHM approved supplier and adhere to a strict code of practice and our carefully sourced dispensary stock consists of over 450 herbs from government-approved suppliers in China. We source the highest quality herbs available, and do not stock endangered or prohibited species.
Q.Can I buy just herbs or herbal products from you without a consultation?
A.No. At Avicenna, herbal medicine is only dispensed on prescription after a consultation with a fully qualified and registered Practitioner. We monitor all our patients and all prescriptions are tailored specifically to the individual and their present condition. We do not sell individual herbal ingredients or formulas over the counter.
Q.What about the plastic sachets the herbs come in — are they safe?
A.The sachets are food grade packaging and of approved standard. No seepage of the plastic occurs into the medicine as they are heat resistant to 140 C.
Q.How much do herbal teas cost?
A.Again it depends on your prescription and your condition — as a guideline figure, you should expect to spend around £70 per week.
Q.Are there specific herbs for particular conditions?
A.Yes and no. Whilst certain herbs will be indicated for say eczema, each individual case of eczema is treated slightly differently depending on the patient's unique signs and symptoms. This means that each herbal tea prescription is a carefully balanced recipe specifically tailored to that person's entire health condition.
Most herbal tea prescriptions are typically made up of 8-15 raw herbs, which when cooked together work synergistically making them more effective and powerful than a single substance. This is why this form of taking herbal medicines has much quicker and more satisfactory results than taking herbal pills, powders or granules.