What is Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Traditional Chinese herbal theory is an incredibly complicated and profound description of both human physiology and pathomechanisms occurring within the human body. With roots stretching back to foundational texts written in the 2nd century, it has benefited from an elaboration of theory and clinical application through scholarly debate and discourse for the past 1800 years, right up to the present day. The sheer volume of texts and discourses (numbering in the hundreds of thousands) of this living tradition is staggering, and shows Chinese herbal medicine to be the most sophisticated herbal medicine system in the world.

Chinese Herbalism addresses complicated patterns of imbalance, that don’t respond to healthy changes in diet, exercise, lifestyle, or even acupuncture. These are usually conditions that are more chronic, such as digestive, hormonal, respiratory, urogenital, neurological, sleep, autoimmune, etc. although they can simply be chronic pain, as well.

Sometimes, the patient has complicated and debilitating symptoms, that conventional medicine has not been able to provide relief for. Sometimes, the aches, pains, and feelings of being chronically unwell have been around for so long that people assume that this is just the way life is, and explain it away with age, stress, or past injury.

In many, many cases, it doesn’t have to be this way.  You don’t have to keep suffering or ignoring problems.

The real power of Chinese herbal medicine is in treating the whole person.

How does Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine Work?

Chinese herbal medicine treats the entirety of the body, not just the symptoms.  This is a night-and-day different approach from conventional medicine.

For example, let’s suppose a patient has headaches.  Conventional medicine will simply seek to treat the headache.  It may go so far as to name the headache and describe it, such as “tension headache” or “migraine.”  But, at the end of the day, the goal is only to treat the headache.

From a Classical medicine point of view, the headache is only a symptom of an underlying problem.  What we need to do is understand WHY someone gets the headache.  This “why” is the underlying pattern. If we can treat the underlying pattern, the headache will go away on its own.

In the clinic, this looks like the difference between a patient with headaches who also has stomach aches and irritability and runs hot, vs a patient with headaches who also has anxiety and palpitations and runs cold.  Whereas they both may be given the same conventional pharmaceuticals for their headaches, from a Classical Chinese medicine point of view, these are two fundamentally different people who must be treated in a completely different way.

The real power of Chinese herbal medicine is in treating the whole person. So, if the headache is just a symptom, if we treat the underlying cause of it, not only does the headache go away, but so does the stomach ache, irritability, and overheating. In short, if the pattern is treated correctly everything must get better.

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“I am very thankful that Matt at Medicine Grove was recommended by a family member. I experienced chronic back pain for over three years. The results from Matt's treatments are nothing short of miraculous. Within a few months the back pain is gone along with various other symptoms I had accepted as part of life and the aging process. Recently I had intense shoulder pain and within two treatments my shoulder feels better than ever. Matt's wisdom and expertise in my opinion are unequaled. I am truly amazed by the improvements to my life thanks to Matt Wagner.”

B.U., Madison, WI
Acupuncture with Matt has completely given me my life back.

"Acupuncture with Matt has completely given me my life back. I came to him after trying everything else to help my lower back - which was going numb when I walked and causing me extensive pain. This pain was keeping me from walking far or doing basic household tasks - and I'm 37. Matt learned about my issues and described what he was seeing in a way I had never heard...and it made perfect sense. After just a couple of treatments I could feel a huge improvement. I saw him often for a few months and the pain was gone. Now I just go in for tune ups. During my tune ups I have gotten help for other problems too. Acupuncture with Matt has given me great relief from anxiety. If I go more than a month without a tune up I can really tell...even if my back feels fantastic my mood needs a visit. I highly recommend Matt to everyone I know who has health issues. By all means, give it a try!!"

Kate A. - Madison, WI
He has helped me to feel better than I thought was possible.

"Finding Matt has been a blessing to me. He is skilled, insightful and kind. Using acupuncture, herbs and his knowledge of Chinese Medicine, Matt has helped me with issues including digestion, nutrition, long term pain, skin irritation, and headaches. He has helped me to feel better than I thought was possible. If you are looking for someone that will treat you as a whole person, this is the place to go."

Korey Kopp - Madison, WI
I highly recommend him for all types of ailments.

"I've received absolutely amazing results from Matt's acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments over the years. I highly recommend him for all types of ailments. His herbal medicine and acupuncture knowledge and experience is top notch, I know that from being treated by many practitioners in the past."

S. A. - Madison, WI
I'm really happy that I got the problem accurately diagnosed and taken care of, so that I could get on with my life.

"Bottom line is, Matt is an excellent clinician. I consulted with Matt for severe, sports-induced hip pain. Being a registered nurse, I fear what would have likely happened if I went to urgent care… Well, I know all too well in fact, because I know the differential. I would have had an x-ray, which would have been inconclusive, and a diagnosis of either tendonitis, or bursitis. I would have been put on Ibuprofen for 10 days, with a follow-up MRI, if I wasn't better by then..."

B.G. - Fitchburg, WI
Whenever I have a problem, I go see Matt, and he patches right up.

"I suffered from nausea and heartburn that got much worse after work stress. I went to my GP, who advised me to get an upper g.i endoscopy, and a test for H. Pylori. He didn't seem convinced that the endoscopy would find anything, but wanted to rule out major issues. In the end, his suggestion was prescription heartburn meds. Well, I couldn't afford the tests, and I didn't like the side effects of the medication. My son suggested I go see Matthew. Being a very skeptical person, it took a lot of convincing. As I walked into the office I was prepared for a lot of nonsense. But, I was willing to give it a try. I was impressed by the thoroughness of the intake, and Matt's bedside manner. After the visit, I was given an herbal formula to take for a week..."

P.W. - Madison, WI
Directions from the Beltline Hwy:

Take the Exit "South Towne Dr"
Go North on W Broadway
Turn South onto WB Frontage Rd
Turn left at Gisholt Dr
Turn left at Starion Bank drive-up banking sign
Drive around the parking lot
Parking is plentiful in front and around 6400 Gisholt Dr