Combining Acupuncture and Herbs


In my own practise and at the White Crane Academy we maintain herbal medicine is Yin to acupuncture’s Yang. They are both essential facets of Chinese medicine that are different yet complementary, and when used together can dramatically enhance the ability of a practitioner to deliver an effective treatment.


What does this mean in practice?


Chinese medicine has traditionally used case studies to demonstrate principles of treatment so let’s consider the instance of a 36-year old woman with endometriosis related dysmenorrhoea, abdominal pain, and infertility. This woman has Liver qi stagnation leading to Blood stasis with an underlying condition of Kidney Yang deficiency. I use acupuncture at key points in the woman’s cycle, to promote ovulation, to move Qi and Blood before her period. At the same time I prescribe daily herbs to nourish the Kidneys in the first half of the cycle followed by stronger Blood and Qi moving herbs in the second half of the cycle. As the abdominal pain and dysmenorrhoea subside the woman also reports feeling more energetic and notices more obvious signs of ovulation. After 4 months she conceives at which point herbs are given to consolidate the pregnancy and prevent miscarriage whilst acupuncture is used to help manage her morning sickness and to help her relax. She completes her pregnancy and gives birth to a much loved baby daughter.


This is a typical example of acupuncture and herbs working well together. In some instances, such as lower back strain or osteoarthritis of the knee, acupuncture predominates whilst in other conditions such as eczema or urinary tract infections herbs are the treatment of choice. If I could only apply either acupuncture or herbs then I would feel as if I was working with one hand tied behind my back and I have no doubt that I would be a less effective practitioner.