HPC Reader Weighs in on Chinese Herbs

To the Editor,

Your approach to Chinese herbs (in the article, "Six Chinese Herbs Every Doctor Should Know," HPC June 15, 2001) is very Western. Chinese herbs are not taken individually, but complexed in unique formulas which balance them.

Also, other herbs are used to neutralize potential ill-effects of the toxic herbs. For example, when Fu Zhi is cooked with licorice, the toxicity is almost eliminated. This concept of taking individual herbs for symptoms is so anti-Oriental medicine.

Cinnabar (a mercury containing compound mentioned in the article) is not even available any more from reputable herbal companies.

Please try looking at herbs from the paradigm they come from.

Butch Levy, MD, LAc
Family Practice & Acupuncture
Littleton, CO


Editor's Reply:

Thanks for your comments. In the companion article ("Ignorance, Simple-Mindedness Are the True Dangers with Chinese Herbs") which ran in the same issue as the article you question, Dr. Arnold addresses the points you raise. Indeed, use of single herbs is not part of Chinese tradition, and it can be dangerous. The point in drawing attention to the six Dr. Arnold highlighted, was simply to underscore the fact that many Americans are using single herbs, often without guidance. He believes all physicians should at least be familiar with the most commonly used ones. We agree! I welcome input from you and all other readers knowledgeable about Chinese herbal medicine.

Erik Goldman

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