In Chinese medicine, two type of herbs exist; medicinal and tonic. The distinction is that tonic herbs are safe to try out your self, but medicinal herbs should only be used under the guidance of an herbalist. This is why there is some regulation of herbs in Europe, because some of the medicinal ones have powerful and potentially harmful effects if used incorrectly.
You don’t need a practitioner to use tonic herbs, not only because they are so safe and can be taken in large quantities for long periods of time, but also because once you understand the basic categories, it is easy to choose the right herbs for your own individual needs. Once you have grasped the basic principles and you know about the Three Treasures and the Five Organ Systems, then you’re good to go. You can try out the herbs and herb blends (often referred to as formulas), confident that whatever you choose is safe.
The Taoist system means you pay your doctor to keep you healthy. If you get sick, you stop paying them. This is why Taoist practitioners are so motivated to keep their patients healthy. The tonic herbs are geared to this approach. Although they do have a powerful capacity to cure specific symptoms, where they are truly amazing is for building and maintaining radiantly good health.
Tonic herbs are best when they are viewed as foods, consumed every day either as a tea or added to food. You may wonder how tonic herbs can be classified as a food. Think of them as being beneficial substances you can include as part of a meal; goji berries, schizandra berries, jujube dates, ginseng, astragalus and so on.
You can make these a part of your everyday food repertoire. They are not medicinal herbs that have to be carefully prescribed and dosed, and they are not supplements. They are foods and can be consumed as such.
At this point you may be wondering about common herbs, such as the ones available at the supermarket or in your garden, like parsley and rosemary? Or chilli, ginger and garlic? These are medicinal to some extent, so you can’t always use them as you would tonic herbs. For example, using a lot of garlic long term would unbalance the hemispheres of your brain (not to mention making you very smelly!) Parsley is a diuretic which means it dries you out, so if you tend to be dehydrated already, taking lots of parsley long term wouldn’t be a good idea. This just underlines how exceptional and rare the true tonic herbs actually are, as they are safer even than our common culinary herbs.
Tonic herbs may fix an illness but they won’t do it directly; they do it by showing your body how to fix itself. For example, if you have a cold it may help to take some of the noble mushrooms like reishi or chaga. They may cure the cold but not because they are directly killing the virus or bacteria. Instead they strengthen the body so that the body’s own system can overcome the illness.
Medicinal herbs can interfere with medications, and even tonic herbs sometimes can, but really, any plant or animal substance can potentially interfere with medication. So even with tonic herbs, do check that they don’t interfere with your medication before taking them. Remember that around 75% of pharmaceutical drugs are based on plants/herbs in any case.
Are tonic herbs suitable for everyone? Yes, with rare exceptions where someone has been radically affected by drugs or surgery. Medicinal herbs are NOT suitable for everyone. They have to be prescribed for your type and your individual situation.
In Western modern society, we need the benefits these herbs can offer now more than ever. Fortunately most anyone can confidently use the Taoist tonic herbs to counteract the harmful effects that stress and environmental toxins inflict upon our health.
The point to get is, don’t see tonic herbs as optional extras, or something you only use when you’re unwell. See them as something that can be easily incorporated into your daily life as a safe and effective holistic treatment for healing a wide variety of ills.
Elwin is also the Founder of Complete Detox Academy, Taoist Health Academy, the Health Coaching Institute and High Energy Academy, as well as the author of 'the Easy Exhaustion Cure' and 'the 4 Step Safe and Effective Detox Action Plan'.
Elwin is highly Enthusiastic about empowering people to feel Energized, Joyful and Alive, Naturally and Sustainably, and has worked over 5 years with over 1000 clients towards this goal. Elwin is particularly passionate about working with clients who are highly committed to reaching high levels of Health, Energy and Wellbeing, by natural and sustainable means.
Elwin has always been interested in Health since childhood. With a mother who had cancer 4 times, and a father with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Elwin is determined to get to the Root Causes of what really creates Disease, and what it really takes to have Outstanding Health and Wellbeing. After suffering from Health Challenges all his life, Elwin became determined, in 2007, to 'Get his Energy back or Die Trying', and, with this level of Resolve, made rapid progress, after a few false starts, which led him naturally, organically, after many requests, to dedicate himself full time to helping others get the kind of Results that he had achieved.