If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ll know I’ve had great results treating my primary lower leg lymphedema with Chinese herbs. The Chinese Herbs work so well I no longer need to wear compression stockings, elevate or do any of the daily massage. I simply stay active and wear compression when I fly or take a long drive.
I previously tried a bunch of herbs on my own with no results, but once I tried Chinese herbs through a Chinese medicine practitioner, it worked. Being a serious condition, lymphedema seems to need large quantities of herbs and certain combinations that are tailored for your own circumstances. Unless you’ve studied Chinese herbs for years, you and I don’t really have a chance of getting it right. Plus taking large quantities of herbs is powerful and you might get reactions. These are all reasons that I only recommend working with a trained professional.
But since Chinese medicine is quite different from regular medicine, you probably won’t get much help from your regular medical doctors. Instead it requires some research.
Will It Work for You?
I can’t really answer that question confidently, since there’s not much information out there about people using treating lymphedema with Chinese herbs. That’s why I started this blog! But since then I’ve been seeing more and more positive confirmation on its effectiveness. Personally, I’ve been able to get similar results now using two different traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. That makes me believe this is repeatable and not a fluke or some type of placebo effect.
And since I’ve written this blog, I’ve heard from others who have had similar results, and heard about other TCM doctors who have each treated between 5 to 10 people. Obviously there’s a long way to go to get more people trying this, but I find all of this information very encouraging.
Finding a Good Chinese Herb Provider
Since I’ve started this blog I’ve gotten many questions on how to go about finding a Chinese medicine doctor to work with. So here’s my suggestions.
- Start with google. I’ve been able to find Chinese medicine doctors in many countries for acupuncture, so it appears that Chinese medicine is quite common even in most western countries. So I’d start by searching for “Chinese medicine” or “Chinese medicine in (my city name)”. If there’s any, they should come up. If you don’t see any, search for “acupuncture near me”, since most (but not all) acupuncturists also provide Chinese herbs. If you live in a small town or rural area, you may need to expand your search.
- Look for reviews. Cross reference any you find with review sites, if possible. I’m a big fan of Yelp.com and other review sites. While there might be some unfair reviews, it can be a great source of information. Did people write reviews saying they got results? Do reviews show that Chinese medicine doctor or practitioner is a caring provider and a good communicator? All of those are very important, especially if you’re not that familiar with Chinese herbs and Chinese medicine.
- Call or email first as an initial screen. I always try to find out if the provider has any experience with lymphedema, what are their prices, and where they source they herbs from (you need to make sure they can provide herbs that are free of harmful chemicals or compounds). If they don’t have experience treating lymphedema, that is not necessarily a deal breaker but it certainly helps minimize the chance of you being part of their learning curve.
- Verify credentials. Just to be safe, you can verify the credentials they have on their website or business card. Also it’s a good idea to google their name further and/or look for any state or national
Not exactly a mysterious process but one that requires some care.
Doctor or Practitioner?
Since Chinese medicine is not the same as western medicine, you’ll notice that some people who practice traditional Chinese medicine have formal titles of doctors or physicians, but some may not. This is a tough one. Ideal world I always like to work with a doctor…someone who has had extensive training. These herbs are powerful and if I have a strange reaction I’d prefer to talk to someone who has been through more general medicine training.
This will likely depend upon your country’s (and state’s) regulation of Chinese medicine practitioners. In the US, this is a regulated industry. (https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/what-traditional-chinese-medicine/-tcm-regulated)
In other countries, like New Zealand, where I live now, there is no mandatory regulation. However there is a voluntary regulation agency that many practitioners join. https://www.nzasa.org/about-nzasa/
This is all just my layperson’s opinion so please take it with a grain of salt and always consult your health care providers first.
To me, experience and training are both important. I give a lot more weight to someone who has completed years of training and testing than someone who took a year certificate course. If they have helped many people solve difficult health problems that means a lot to me. I would be hesitant to see someone who is more of a casual provider. In fact I have had acupuncture done by these more casual providers—those who just pursued acupuncture training—and to me it is a different world than getting treated by someone who is (or was) a doctor or has received an equivalent PhD. It’s just a higher level of training and hopefully experience.
Patience is required
Then, once you start, remember, it’s a natural remedy. It doesn’t work instantly. Your goal here is long term reduction of swelling so it will take time.
The first time I had to take herbs for four months straight to finally see any improvement. Then the improvements continued for several months, then leveled out.
The second time, I got results within just a few weeks. I’ve had to put a hold on the herbs for a while because of my travel schedule, but that second time it was encouraging to get such quick results. It’s very possible I need to do this every few years so it’s good to know the “maintenance” of it will likely be a lot less.
Of course, I’m very curious if I can get rid of it all together with Chinese medicine and herb treatment. I will be trying that in a few months
Good luck in your search. If you have any other tips or comments on finding a provider, please share them!