This system of Chinese herbal medicine is different from any other, and its efficacy depends on certain simple and logical principles. If these are fully understood and carefully followed, the benefit received in any case will be greatly increased. In fact, such observance is essential to satisfactory results.
We do not make the claim that herbal treatment will work miracles. Herbs, if properly used, assist nature in one’s constant effort to throw off disease.
It is natural for people to be well. But herbs cannot make them well if they oppose the process of cure by late hours, narcotics, overeating, or other practices that tend to lower vitality and hinder recuperation from the effects of disease.
The Chinese do not draw any distinction between food and medicine. What is good for the body is medicine and at the same time food. With that in mind, diet is the first essential principle to understand.
We prescribe a dietary regimen to each patient, which should in all cases be strictly followed. A modern American diet commonly features an overabundance of rich foods which tend to clog the system. Excessive food beyond the body’s needs is no longer nutritious, it is in fact harmful to the proper functioning of the vital organs.
Herbal remedies sometimes cause patients pain and dull, ill-defined uneasiness for periods varying with the different conditions of different cases. These indicate that the herbs are working in the system, and should cause no alarm. They are simply proof that herbs are ridding the system of the noxious elements which oppose a cure.
Discomfort and aches will gradually wear away and will be followed by a reaction which finally results in increased energy and a restoration of health.
Pace of Change
Many persons anxiously expect to be cured at once. They forget that a body which has been deteriorating for months or years cannot be restored to its normal condition in a few days, or even a few weeks.
A neglected tree may sometimes be restored to health by care and irrigation and cultivation, but it does not bear fruit the second week after it is watered. It first puts out its new buds upon the lower branches and afterwards upon those more distant from the roots, showing a gradual re-establishment of a circulation of the tree’s life juices. In due time the leaves follow, then the flowers and finally the fruit.
The restoration of an unhealthy body, whose functions are abnormal, is a somewhat similar process, and depends upon laws which are as invariable as the laws of growth in the vegetable kingdom. Do not expect impossibilities and you will not be disappointed. Any physician who guarantees cures of chronic ailments in a brief period of time simply plays upon the credulity of his patients and soothes their aches and pains by powerful narcotics into a deceptive improvement. Diet, regimen and careful and continued herbal treatment are essential factors in any genuine and lasting benefit.
When a patient takes herbal remedies and hopes to be restored to health, he must learn to practice moderation. Excessive dietary intake, alcohol, narcotics, and sexual or other indulgence is to be avoided. No medicine in the world will build up an impoverished body if its already exhausted vitality is constantly being depleted. Three, six, or even nine months is a very short period in life of a man, and if self-denial and strict regard for a hygienic regimen during that time will restore a sick man to the priceless boon of health, the sacrifice involved is certainly abundantly rewarded.
These restrictions, together with certain phenomena which frequently attend the use of these remedies, are so different, from the “painless dentistry” methods of some physicians, that patients often become discouraged. They are sometimes troubled with a slight nausea, diarrhea, giddiness, ill-defined feelings of uneasiness or with actual pains in different parts of the body. These manifestations are simply indication that the remedies are performing their customary and proper work. But it is frequently difficult for the patient to believe this fact, which is at variance with his prejudices and preconceived notions of the objectives of medical treatment. They sometimes become discouraged after a few weeks and discontinue the treatment just when they should cling most closely to it.
As a rule, the alarming indications will pass away in a few days. In many cases they do not occur at all. Yet some of our best friends today are the ones who became discouraged and withdrew from treatment after following it for a short time. Fortunately, sufficient had been accomplished to have a decidedly beneficial effect after the system had time to resume what may be called a condition of equilibrium. With an improvement in health many of these people have seen their mistake and resumed treatment, but with loss of time and of the cumulative force of the remedies, and consequently with an increased ultimate expense.
We prefer to be perfectly frank with our patients, and we desire that these facts should be fully understood. We recognize that people in ill-health are entitled to a little consideration that we would not expect to accord to people in good health. And we find that men, as a rule, are more capricious than women, and less capable of enduring aches, pains and restrictions necessary to recovery. Of all classes, active business men are the most difficult to convince of the necessity of care and rest when sensations of illness are commencing to grow upon them. They think they cannot afford the time necessary for a cure, and they are so irregular, in respect to their meals and in taking of the remedies, that cures are very greatly hindered if not rendered impossible.
For these reasons, we are thus particular in making these explanations. We recognize the limitations of all medical systems, and know that medicine will not do miracles. We desire to warn our patients against probable discouragements and prefer to state the fact ourselves rather than to have them stated, with exaggerations, by some person who feels himself aggrieved because we have not performed more than what was promised. These remarks apply particularly to cases of long standing, or very severe diseases. In acute attacks and those of recent origin, a great benefit is often derived within a few days.
Download the original esssay by Willard G. Jue, one of his many contributions to Hen Sen Herbs. It was written while he was learning Chinese Herbal Medicine from Hen Sen Chin.