Chinese Herbs for the Mind: Introduction

Chinese Herbs for the Mind: Introduction


Chinese Herbs for the Mind



Before the twentieth century, all mental illnesses in China were treated exclusively with herbal medicine and acupuncture. Since Chinese doctors and hospitals have kept records, there is plenty of historical evidence suggesting that such treatments were often quite successful. Perhaps the best evidence might be the famous Fog Tea of Tianmu Mountain, which, after the opium wars, helped free millions of Chinese people from opium addiction. Considering the state of mental health practice in the West at that time, Chinese herbal psychiatric drugs were at least as effective as whatever Western doctors were doing for their patients in the 19th century.

This may still be somewhat true today. Despite obvious advancements in counseling techniques and in the Western pharmacy, Chinese herbs can still help sufferers of mental disorders. These herbs and formulas can complement any modern day prescription or therapy.

Hard to Find a Shrink in China

Psychiatry never really took root in China where the culture never emphasized individuality. Spending large sums of money on personal improvement is a foreign idea in the East and would be considered a kind of vanity. Even today, despite the deluge of Western ideas, interests, and money, you'll find only a handful of psychiatrists in Beijing, a city of 21.5 million people.

Psychiatry might also not have evolved because the Chinese had less need for it. Having discovered a pharmacy of herbal psychiatric drugs, such interventions may have been unnecessary in many cases. These herbal methods may be among the great treasures of Asian medicine.

 © 2017 Joel Harvey Schreck 

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Did you know that Dr. Shen is also the artist and photographer Joel Schreck? See his work at

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