How can herbal medicine thrive in today’s instant gratification society?
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest... We live in a society where we like to know what people are doing the moment they do it, where they are the moment they get there, what they are wearing and who are they with. We live in a society of instant gratification; of smartphones, microwaves and fast food. We have learned to streamline our culture to make things easier and more accessible. In a way, it has jaded us from the thrill of anticipation but this state-of-mind of efficiency and effectiveness has brought about many great things. The world has become more interconnected and seemingly smaller thru rapid travel and advanced communication systems. This connection with the world at large has brought advancements in technology, art, science and medicine.
A new medical paradigm is being developed that has a more integrated approach to health that utilizes Western and Eastern philosophies. Traditional Chinese medicine, has made its way into the mainstream cultures of the western world. Acupuncture and herbal medicine is now recognized in 43 states with approximately 20,000 licensed practitioners and 53 schools in the United states alone¹, and the number is exponentially growing.
Herbal medicine has always had an important place in the medical system but it had been out-shadowed by pharmaceuticals. Now that a more integrated approach to health is being recognized- herbal medicine is finally making a comeback. Herbal remedies are being recognized not only for their effectiveness but for their efficiency in helping the body heal on levels beyond just our physicality. The ancient texts, such as the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, the first true Chinese Materia Medica recognizes herbal medicine to work on three layers- expelling disease, constitutional treatments, and spiritual disease. Since these therapeutic herbal remedies are focusing on a more integrated philosophy of healing the system as a whole, herbal formulas are more effective as they treat the root cause of a persons disease. “Big Pharma”, the corporate pharmaceutical companies that manufacture medicines, focus more upon symptom based treatment which in the long run adds to the list of ailments due to sometimes harsh side effects.
Chinese herbal medicine formulas are highly effective and can be made from bulk herbs, granulated herbs or tea pills. Many people I talk to about herbal medicine say they are too busy to decoct herbs into a medicinal tea, that it takes to much time out of their busy days. But what better time is spent than time to focus on your health? The later two forms of herbs mentioned above are most popular as they take little preparation as opposed to bulk herbal formulas. Tea Pills are small round herbal pills that are easy to swallow for children, elderly and everyone in between. If swallowing pills is an issue, granulated herbs are also very easy to take, as the powder is mixed with warm water and drank.
Our society is very used to “pill popping” to make themselves feel better, but usually they are just masking their symptoms, suppressing fevers and fooling the body into thinking it has healed. But this suppression may lead to greater issues down the road. This is where Chinese Herbal Medicine shines. If we can just get people to trust and understand the effectiveness of herbal medicine working upon the level of pattern differentiation, popping these herbal tea pills will not only make them feel better but will work on their underlying issues. Herbal remedies can take longer to fix issues than people are used to with medicines such as NSAIDS and antibiotics but the long terms results seem more nourishing and have less side effects.
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine is not only convenient and effective, but addresses the root cause of disease, and hopefully allows people to truly heal and no longer need medicinal intervention. As the natural health movement moves into the forefront of mainstream culture; more awareness is brought to the fact that lifestyle, dietary and relationship choices play a huge part in ones health. So as a person begins to accept herbal remedies as a sufficient and easy way to heal, they may also be open to adopting lifestyle changes that will make optimal wellbeing more accessible!
Studies are showing that people that time the time to slow down and focus on health and well being are more emotional mature and ready to deal with stress. Taking time for things like boiling up herbal teas or preparing healthy meals with loved ones can be just the right medicine a person needs.
In a society such as ours of instant gratification and fast transportation, we need to shift our focus onto purification, moving more in alignment with the natural world and the gifts it has to offer. Preventative medicines such as TCM, is about slowing down and recognizing the natural laws that govern our world and our body, so when we are able to combine this ideology with our fast paced gratification society, herbal medicine will prevail!
1. National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. http://www.nccaom.org